Alicia Kosasih looked into her past for inspiration when she entered Design New England magazine’s 2016 Design Showdown competition, and her Global Showcase retail design won first place.

“Coming from Indonesia, issues of community development and inequality always resonated with me while growing up,” said the New England School of Art & Design graduate student. “That’s why I was inspired when I learned that one of the most important aspects of this design competition was social responsibility.”

Presenting the Global Showdown design

Kosasih worked on her design for nearly six weeks as part of Professor Nancy Hackett’s Contract Design Studio 1 course and came out ahead of other New England-area undergraduate or graduate students studying interior design or interior architecture.

“Alicia’s technical skills, achieved through her background in industrial design, coupled with her global awareness, produced a powerful design statement,” said Hackett. “She will eventually bring her unique and considerable talents to the built environment, and she will go far.”

Now in its second year, the Design Showdown competition challenges design students to imagine a live/work space that combines innovative design, functionality, and elements of social responsibility.

Competing students were instructed to create a Newbury Street retail space with a residential studio above and have the design be socially responsible.

Kosasih’s entry is “a hybrid of gallery, incubator, and retail space at the same time,” she said. “The space is not just for conventional retail purposes, but to serve as a space for meetings, gallery exhibitions, presentations, and a learning center as well.”

Learning while competing

“The showdown provided me with lessons on the importance of understanding a specific client’s needs and translating them into a cohesive idea backed with great execution,” she said. “I believe that behind every good design lies a compelling story. And it is our job as designers to be able to convey that to the public through personal expressions into space that are aesthetically pleasing and functional at the same time.”

Kosasih, who works part-time as an interior designer/project manager in Suffolk’s Campus Planning & Construction Department, encourages current and future art and design students to get involved with local, regional, and nationwide competitions whenever possible.

“It gives a new appreciation towards time and project management,” she said. “It’s always good to present yourself with new challenges.”

Record of design student accomplishment

Art & Design graduate student Almaz Maksud and undergrad Alissa Carruth finished among the top eight finalists in the Design Showdown.

Carruth’s entry, The Fashion Project, consisted of a recycled clothing enterprise, both online and on Newbury Street, that gives back 50 percent to women’s charities, while Maksud’s project, The Language Café, was designed to promote international harmony through a language exchange program, international newspapers and magazines, and international coffees.

Two Suffolk students won accolades last year and were featured in Design New England after the 2015 Design Showdown.

Design Showdown is a collaboration between Design New England magazine and the Boston Design Center, with support from the American Society of Interior Designers’ New England chapter.