Eye for Design, Heart for Jesus Beauchamp building a legacy in the classroom and beyond
Amy Beauchamp (00) directs OC’s nationally-accredited interior design program. The stamp of approval from the Council for Interior Design Accreditation is rare, especially for Christian schools … and OC’s program has prepared graduates to lead projects for the Oklahoma City Thunder and other major league teams, major medical facilities, and swanky corporate headquarters. OC interior design alumni are VPs for multi-million-dollar companies and top designers for leading builders from coast to coast.
Under Amy’s direction, the statistical measures of success are off the charts. One hundred percent of OC sophomores, juniors, and seniors in interior design go on to earn their degree, and 100 percent of Amy’s graduating seniors in recent years have quickly found design jobs or coveted spots in graduate schools.
Amy lives out her passion for students, travel, and Jesus beyond the classroom. In addition to many projects around the OC’s Oklahoma City campus, she led the renovation of Das Millicanhaus, OC’s living-learning facility in Vienna, Austria. She loves to travel abroad when she isn’t teaching, and modern technology allowed us to interview Amy on the side of an Austrian mountain via Facebook …
What got you interested in interior design?
Probably the same thing that gets most interested in it at first: painting and rearranging my bedroom every other two weeks! Home television shows weren’t an influence like they are now, but at the core, making spaces function better was something that kept me curious enough to pursue it.
What are the best memories from your OC student days?
Random things: Before my parents left after move-in days, we always prayed over my dorm/apartment that it would be a place of peace, mercy, safety, and that the Spirit of love would reside in those walls and that others would feel the same. And it truly was!
My first year, I was in Gunn-Henderson East, and any time someone had big news, funny stories, date-night highlights or tears, it seemed like everyone on my hall was piled up in our room. A memory I reflect on with joy! I was also a part of Summer Singers with a killer group of musicians and loved our countless experiences. I also loved being in Valentine Cabaret.
What do you enjoy most about working with students?
When it boils down to it, it isn’t even just the study of design. It’s the study of life and living it together! They are in such a fabulous and challenging time of life – trying to maneuver through life, faith, studies, relationships, and everything else that gets tossed into the marvelous mix. I enjoy the dynamics of the group, but I really love my time one-on-one with them so I can get to know them better as a person and who God is calling them to be. It gives me a unique position to encourage and pray for them.
How do you integrate faith and learning in your interior design classes?
Serving people is a big deal to me, and something we are all called to do in one way or another! Design is one of those avenues because you never know what kind of situation God will place you in. We talk a lot about how understanding people with different backgrounds – be it culturally, financially, faith, etc. – allows you to serve their needs better. It also opens doors for the Gospel to be shared, even if just in simple ways. The world truly is a classroom and when you get out into it; you see God differently in other people and that makes you see opportunities to be a part of ministry.
What does having an accredited interior design program mean for OC?
Because we have students that come from all over the world, we need to give them as fair a shot at any job they are pursuing. Some firms won’t even look at your resume if you don’t come from an accredited program. We have to take a huge exam – similar to the CPA Exam or Bar Exam, etc. – it isn’t color and fluff.
My students can tell you about building codes, acoustics, lighting, plumbing, fire suppression, construction, electrical needs, government standards, ergonomics, cultural designs, green and sustainability issues, slip resistant coefficients of materials, etc. National accreditation, professional practice, and sitting for the exam give more value to a misunderstood degree.
What has been your favorite project to work on?
Definitely Das Millicanhaus, and it was also the toughest and most rewarding project I’ve worked on. Working with different cultures, different work ethics, different language, different currency, and a different measuring system all were major challenges. But it was worth every bit of blood, sweat, and tears ... literally!
Over the span of 180 years, St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome went through several master’s hands, most of whom would never see it completed. It takes a special kind of passion to design something they would never see completed or know all of the millions upon millions of people who would go through those incredible doors. Das Millicanhaus may never see millions, but I believe it will change the lives of the people who go through those doors. That has been and will certainly continue to be my prayer for the haus, the tradition my parents passed on to me: that it would be a place of peace, mercy, safety, and that the Spirit of love would reside in those walls … that people will discover themselves and God and figure out how those two things go together for His glory.
Why do you have such a passion for traveling?
I think everyone should travel if they can. God has given us a huge world and all of his people are so diverse. When you travel, you start to understand things about other people. When you start to understand other people, you start to understand yourself a little better, and see God a little better, too!
What were your findings about the marriage of architecture and worship in your master’s thesis?
I love Romans 10:20: “I was found by people who were not looking for me. I showed myself to those who were not asking for me.” Churches don’t have to be intimidating, and like most places, whether we want to admit it or not, we have first impressions about a space – good or bad. First impressions matter! God required many numerous details when the ark was being built, or another example, Solomon’s temple. Why should a building where Good News is preached show any less care in its own space? Why not give that 5-minute-late, backseat-sitting, not-going-to-talk-to-anyone, skeptical-of-Jesus guy/girl a good start to worshipping him in Spirit and in truth? When you encourage them to come as they are, into a place that welcomes them warmly, strictly architecturally speaking, you encourage the spirit of the Lord to rest on them ... and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. That freedom is Christ!
Who have been some of your biggest influences?
As a teacher, I appreciate my parents more every day. They taught us how to be thankful in everything, look at God through different lenses that weren’t just our own, and put value in people. When you mix all those things up, it’s a great package for teaching.
As a designer, I would say Antonio Gaudi. His masterpiece, the Sagrada Familia, is a church that is still under construction in Barcelona. But he gets it! Some of those 5-minute-late, backseat sitters may decide they aren’t even going to get that far. Historically, the artistic expressions of stained glass windows, paintings, sculptures, or altars that told the story of Jesus have always been on the inside of a building. Gaudi put them on the outside of a building. He takes the verse, “I will be found by those that are not looking for me,” to heart. How great is that?!
How is OC home for you?
John deSteiguer wrote a great description for what home is and I think that describes how I feel about OC being home as well: Home is where you are loved and encouraged, where you are pushed and pressed, built up and not torn down, where you acknowledge your shortcomings, but are exhorted to become who God has called you to be … and where you find a family that will walk that faithful journey with you.
View more stories from the Summer 2016 issue of Vision magazine.