They’ve come a long way, baby.
I was the first male graduate of the O’More School of Interior Design in Franklin, way back in 1974. Our school comprised a handful of students in Mrs. Eloise Pitts O’More’s old Victorian home on West Main Street.
It was small, and it wasn’t necessarily state-of-the-art, but don’t let that fool you. Some of Nashville’s best interior designers emerged from the tutelage of Mrs. O’More. The curriculum was intense—she knew design, and she knew how to teach it.
Mrs. O’More was a firecracker—bright red hair, five foot nothing, and probably less than one hundred pounds, but she was tireless in the pursuit of excellence. She demanded our best effort, nothing less, and she cultivated it. I will be forever thankful for the experience of having studied under her.
These days, O’More College of Design is celebrating its fortieth anniversary from an exquisite campus on seven acres in the middle of downtown Franklin, with a fabulous satellite studio space at The Factory in Franklin. More than two hundred students—from all over the nation, as well as fourteen foreign countries—are earning accredited Bachelor of Arts degrees in interior design, fashion design, and visual communications.The proof is in the results. O’More graduates are sought after for positions at the leading design firms, in New York fashion houses, and with corporations, agencies, and publications from coast to coast and around the world. Recently, the visual communications department brought home twenty gold and silver ADDYs from the American Advertising Federation, and countless high-profile accolades span all three departments year in and year out.
The campus has the feel of a European village, with former residential buildings that have been retrofitted to serve as intimate, creative spaces. Two historic mansions serve as administrative and library space, and, while they preserve the ambience, everything on campus is fully wired and state-of-the-art.Walk through the classrooms and studios and you’ll see the full range of design instruction taking place—from the tactile to the technological. In the fashion area, students are found drawing garment designs, first by hand and then in CAD, before creating their own lines of couture. They also study the business aspects—how to start a small business, how to market their product and deal with the media, how to work as a buyer for an international retailer—every facet of working in the fashion industry. The visual communications students are building web sites, designing ad campaigns and editorial spreads, and establishing corporate identities. For 40 years, O’More College of Design has been quietly making its mark on the design world, and I admire their focus on the students. The college has remained intentionally small, for fear that becoming too large would impact the O’More experience.
I’m not sure there’s another place anywhere that is quite like O’More. The creativity oozes from the students, most of whom were leaders in their high schools and could have gone anywhere to school. But they saw, in many ways, the same thing I did years ago. It’s small classes, the opportunity to learn from people who are the best in the business, and a community of like-minded people that make O’More so special.
by Ted Clayton | photography by Peyton Hoge