College of Fine Arts and Design

UCO Interior Design Student To Present Paper At Prestigious International Design Conference

Jan. 25, 2011melissa santana

University of Central Oklahoma graduate student Melissa Santana will offer a glimpse of Cuban architecture among some of the world's most historic structures when she presents her research paper at the 2011 Design Principles and Practices International Conference, Feb. 2-4 in Rome, Italy.  

Santana, who is pursuing a Master of Fine Arts degree in Interior Design, is one of 10 graduate scholars worldwide selected to present at the conference.
Santana's research paper explores the preservation and rehabilitation of architecture in Havana, Cuba.
"This past year Cuba experienced some very dramatic political and economic changes, and recently President Obama eased some of the travel restrictions to the island," said Santana, a native of Rockford, Ill.

"Due to the many new changes, it's more apparent than ever that the U.S. embargo on Cuba may be lifted in the near future. But what would that mean for Havana's 500 years of rich, architectural history?"

Santana's investigation resulted in her paper, "500 years of Architecture: A Comprehensive Analysis of Historic Preservation and Rehabilitation Efforts in Havana, Cuba."

"I want to educate American interior designers and architects on the unique, sensitive issues associated with Cuban development, and the need for restoring and converting historical interiors into new, more productive spaces before the influx of American development, if and when the embargo ends," she said.

Under the supervision of Central Assistant Professor of Interior Design Kevin Steiner, Santana dove into several aspects of Cuban history, including political history and historic preservation as it is applied to interior design.  
"From her own determination, she entered the Design Principles and Practices International Conference. The gathering and presenting of this research is bringing awareness to a very important matter, and the Department of Design is very proud of her accomplishments to date," said Steiner.

Originally, Santana was going to be a virtual participant, but she will now be able to present her paper in person because of the support and funding of Central's Office of Research and Grants and a scholarship from the Dean of Central's College of Fine Arts and Design.

"This conference means so much to me in so many ways," she said.

"I have been interested in the preservation efforts in Havana for so many years but never had a platform to discuss it. It is also a great honor and accomplishment to have been accepted to this conference because it is important in the field of academia to present your findings."

The Design Principles and Practices International Conference is a cross-disciplinary forum which brings together researchers, teachers and practitioners to discuss the nature and future of design.

For more information on Central's College of Fine Arts and Design's graduate design program, please visit or call (405) 974-5200.