Three Interior Design students earn spots in Metropolis Future100 Class of 2024

Three Interior Design students earn spots in Metropolis Future100 Class of 2024


Metropolis Magazine publishes its Future100 list each year, designating 50 interior design and 50 architecture students as the best emerging designers in North America. Students on the Future100 list are connected directly to top architecture and design firms as companies scout the best and brightest talent.

Since 2021, Marymount University has had three students nationally recognized on the Future100 list — undergraduate student Natalia Laykov in 2023, graduate student Viviane Pedruco in 2022 and graduate student Nicolas Swaner in 2021. 

Designer Nesreen Selim of the Metropolis Future100 Class of 2024
Designer Nesreen Selim

This year, that number doubled as three Marymount interior design students were included. Undergraduate Nesreen Selim and graduate students Helia Amini and Lari Bittman were each nominated by Marymount professors who submitted a letter of recommendation along with their official transcripts and portfolios for consideration.

Nesreen Selim, an undergraduate designer from Philadelphia with roots in Egypt, draws much of her inspiration from Egyptian art and architecture. She was nominated by Marymount’s Susan Hergenrather.

“Nesreen is an artist,” Hergenrather said. “Her work frequently pushes the boundaries of what we expect to see. There is a willingness to push color, spatial envelopes and old and new architectural language.”

Selim describes her design style as “storytelling through collage,” which blends colors, textures and design principles from different cultures. She is particularly interested in how spaces can be designed to serve the whole person and promote overall well-being. 

A shared office space designed by Selim
A shared office space designed by Selim

“The primary goal of my designs is to convey powerful messages about the users’ experiences before entering the space, and how addressing specific design challenges significantly contributes to their spiritual, mental and emotional growth,” Selim said. “My design dream revolves around creating expansive, inclusive communities worldwide that prioritize individual well-being and fulfillment.”

After graduation, Selim hopes to work at an interior design firm and then transition to the nonprofit sector in D.C., where she can serve homeless and underprivileged communities in the area. She hopes her Future100 selection allows her to help make design more equitable. 

“This recognition amplifies my voice in raising awareness about the urgent need to create permanent, nurturing spaces for marginalized communities, particularly refugees, who deserve the opportunity to thrive and contribute to future generations and communities.”

Hailing from Iran, Helia Amini came to Marymount’s interior design graduate program after studying architectural engineering in her home country. Jessica Bonness, Assistant Professor of Interior Architecture and Design at Marymount, nominated Amini for her innovative blend of art and science in her designs. 

Designer Helia Amini of the Metropolis Future100 Class of 2024
Designer Helia Amini

“If anyone is deserving of a chance to work as a designer wherever they choose, it is Helia,” Bonness said. “Her personal design concepts are rooted in superb technical knowledge and a strong research foundation. Her thesis project addresses her lived experience as a ballet dancer, and is currently blending art and science in the research stage. I so admire her perseverance and tenacity in the face of barriers, and know that she is truly a star.”

Amini emphasized her interest in creating user-centric spaces built for beauty and functionality.

“My design style is highly adaptive and varies based on the specific problems and needs of the users,” Amini said. “I believe in a user-centered approach to design, in which I innovate and create solutions that are not only aesthetically pleasing but also highly functional and tailored to the unique demands of each project.”

After graduation, Amini plans on working as an interior designer, focusing on innovating spaces through integrating smart technologies and using functional, sustainable materials. 

A metro station designed by Amini
A metro station designed by Amini

“Choosing Marymount for my graduate education was undoubtedly one of the best decisions I’ve made,” she said. “The program here has been exceptional in equipping me with insights, knowledge and skills through innovative learning opportunities.”

Graduate student and D.C. native Lari Bittman was nominated for Metropolis Future100 by the Director of Marymount’s School of Design and Art, Doug Seidler, who credited her designs’ versatility and precision.

“Lari has consistently demonstrated a remarkable combination of raw talent, technical ability and perseverance,” Seidler said. “This is most evident in her ability to design across projects, from a playful fantastical world in Dragon Land Daycare to Clarity, a thoroughly planned and meticulously designed multi-use refuge community center.”

Designer Lari Bittman of the Metropolis Future100 Class of 2024
Designer Lari Bittman

Bittman says she has developed a design style at Marymount that borrows from many eras and cultures. 

“I am drawn to the Art Deco period and pull inspiration from African and Native American cultures,” Bittman said. “I blend these design genres and explore how nature can be an inspiration for a supportive interior environment.”

She hopes to someday open a design firm that focuses on collaboration between designers. She believes in the importance of asking questions and working together to create something beautiful. 

“I want to be able to create a firm that is filled with driven individuals that share my passions and are always interested in growing their skills and pushing design to its limits,” Bittman said. “We all come from different experiences and we bring that to our design styles. The more we can collaborate, the better our designs will be.”

Marymount topped the Metropolis Future100 list as one of only four universities with three student winners, on par with Kansas State University, University of Oregon and University of Texas at Austin. Seidler emphasized how that recognition helps put Marymount on the map for design programs. 

"Dragon Daycare" designed by Bittman
“Dragon Daycare” designed by Bittman

“As a point of celebration, Marymount’s Interior Architecture and Design program was at the top of the list of total students in the interiors category,” Seidler said. “This is a really big deal for us and shows how strong our students and our program are on a national level.”

Bonness says the School of Design and Art is thrilled that it once again has the chance to spotlight top students from the program and demonstrate some of Marymount’s best aspects.

“We have nominated many deserving students to Metropolis each year since its inception,” Bonness said. “It is a testament to the strength of our program and the talent and grit of our students that this year we honor our fourth, fifth and sixth Metropolis Future100 awardees.”