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Students design mark to leave on downtown Pittsburg
Interior Design students make their pitch for an interior design of a new Airbnb in downtown Pittsburg.

Students design mark to leave on downtown Pittsburg

Three seniors in Denice Bertoncino’s Interior Design class each will have an impressive portfolio when they graduate: They will include plans that the students crafted for a real-world customer — a new business in downtown Pittsburg.

It was when the owners of Signet Coffee Roasters were discussing with Bertoncino, a customer, their plans to add an Airbnb above their newly-opened and completely renovated historic shop at 109 N. Broadway, that she jumped at the chance to involve her students. 

Airbnb enables people to lease or rent short-term lodging such as vacation rentals and apartments. It now has more than 3 million listings in 65,000 cities and 191 countries. Signet's would be the first in Pittsburg.

For it, Bertoncino suggested her students come up with interior designs, including fixtures, furnishings, a layout for the space, and a color scheme.  

“We thought it was a great idea,” said Leah Posternik, who owns Signet with her husband, Dennis, and is a member of the Downtown Advisory Committee. 

The three students, Madison Vincent, of Springfield, Missouri, Lindsey Kearney, of Atchison, Kansas, and Chelsea Oliphant, of Erie, Kansas, met with the Posterniks to tour the space, take measurements, and get a feel for their tastes. 

Last week, they returned to make their presentation to the Posterniks and their customers. Their presentation included fully-realized renditions of a kitchen and dining area, bedrooms, bathroom, and living room, as well as blueprints that included closet, utility, and laundry space. 

The style was a blend of vintage, mid-Century, and industrial — a look that’s trending right now, they said. They drew their color inspiration from a large, 100-year-old advertising sign that runs the length of a brick wall in the space: navy, gold, and black. 

The students also came up with a name for the Airbnb, Another Time, and designed a logo for it that combined elements of modern and vintage: The outline of the downtown cityscape and an antique car and a watercolor background popular now. 

The Posterniks were impressed and said afterward they plan to use many elements from the interior design and perhaps the logo. 

"I love what they chose and the style they used," Leah said. "We'll be using a lot of this." 

All three students said they loved the project because it gave them the first chance to interact with a real customer and see in person the space they're designing. 

"And having this involvement gave us pride, to be able to impact the community in this kind of way," Kearney said. "When we come back some day, we can say 'We designed that'." 

Vincent said she "definitely plans" to bring her family one day to stay in the Airbnb. 

"It's great to be able to help grow Pittsburg," she said. "I feel like this is going to be a really great addition to the community, and to be able to say we're sort of leaving our mark here by being part of it is really special."

The coffee shop and future Airbnb are just three blocks south of the Block 22 project underway, a collaborative project between PSU, the City of Pittsburg, and the Vecino Group from Springfield, Missouri. It will create 100 units of student housing and more than 16,000 square feet of innovation space for students to explore their own entrepreneurial ventures, along with a robust co-working space, makerspace, and restaurant space, and should significantly impact downtown economy and development, city leaders say.

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