Online Master’s Program Clicks with LA Interior Designer

“I knew graduate work would provide an opportunity for in-depth research, and that would greatly benefit me as a professional designer and an educator.”
Prippan Tantiprasertchai, interior designer in Los Angeles and student in Ball State’s master’s program in interior design

When Prippan Tantiprasertchai was an undergraduate at King Mongkut’s University of Technology Thonburi, an internationally renowned architecture and design school in Thailand, he knew about a school in America’s Midwest, known as Ball State University, because the two schools had a student and faculty exchange agreement.

That knowledge would be helpful when Tantiprasertchai came to the United States 10 years later, in 2003, to take advantage of American higher education.

Because he had family in Los Angeles, his first stop was at UCLA where he earned a professional certificate in interior design through the architecture and interior design extension program.

Before finishing his certificate, he started working as a designer and project manager in an L.A. interior design firm. He used his talents in design, as well as architecture, for more than a decade and then decided to search for graduate schools.

“I wanted to be involved in the academic side of interior design,” says Tantiprasertchai, who had worked as a teaching assistant in the UCLA program. “I knew graduate work would provide an opportunity for in-depth research, and that would greatly benefit me as a professional designer and an educator.”

Seeing that Ball State had a nationally recognized undergraduate interior design program and that its online master’s degree with an interior design option would give him the flexibility to continue working full time, he decided this master’s degree was the “perfect choice” and enrolled in 2011.

Saw the Value of Classmate Interaction

Tantiprasertchai says learning how to do academic research and sharing experiences, visions, and design approaches with student-colleagues have been the biggest benefits of the program.

“You find that the opinions of others are the most valuable thing in the class,” he says. “Students in my classes are in different stages of their profession. Their experiences and the way they see things are different. Hence, we have varieties of vision and knowledge to share between each other.”

Collaboration has always been part of his work style. While attending KMUTT as an undergrad, Tantiprasertchai and two classmates collaborated on design, construction planning, and project management for a couple of restaurants in Bangkok.

They regrouped in L.A. and in 2010 opened a Thai restaurant in Santa Barbara that serves healthy, home-made Thai cuisine. For Tantiprasertchai, it was the opportunity to apply his architectural and design skills to his own business and share his passion for Thai food near a location that has the largest Thai population outside of Thailand.

In spring of 2013 Tantiprasertchai took a position as job captain with Shlemmer + Algaze + Associates at its downtown L.A. location. SAA, an interior design and architectural firm which specializes in the design of commercial office interiors, is listed in Interior Design magazine’s Top 100 Giants for 2013.