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ASID San Diego Merit Awards

About our Awards

The Ethel Siegelman Award (Designer Merit Award)

The ETHEL SIEGELMAN AWARD was created in 1993 to honor San Diego ASID designers for their outstanding service to the chapter and to the community. The award is named for Ethel Siegelman, who in 1975 was the first San Diego Chapter president of the newly formed American Society of Interior Designers. My first memory of Ethel was at the chapter meeting in late 1975 where she handed over the gavel to her successor, Walter Nelson, ASID. It is my great pleasure to have known her and worked with her on various chapter projects. The first recipient of this award was Ethel, posthumously. I was honored to be selected as the second recipient in 1994.

Ethel Siegelman was a pioneer in the interior design profession in San Diego. She started her career in design as the head of the Wallcovering Division at Frazee’s in Mission Valley. Wanting a more comprehensive design challenge, she took correspondence courses in interior design at the age of 47. She then joined VJ Lloyds furniture store in El Cajon. She became the top performing interior designer within her first two years at Lloyds. At the age of 60, when most people are thinking of retirement, Ethel felt a still greater challenge lay ahead. She started her own interior design firm, Ethel Siegelman Interiors, and left her detractors in the dust who said “you can’t do that – you are too old!”. Ethel continued her business until the age of 72, when she decided it was finally time to retire and relax.

Ethel not only worked hard within her profession and for the profession, she was very involved in the community. The San Diego Historical Society was a great beneficiary of her talents and energy. Ethel and Walter Nelson were early pioneers in the development of the San Diego Designers Showcase home tours. Initially in 1974, it was to raise money for the restoration of the Villa Montezuma’s second floor gallery. In successive years the home tours became a major source of income for the San Diego Historical Society.

One of Ethel’s other great contributions to the profession of interior design is her daughter BJ. BJ Peterson became an interior designer with Cannell & Chaffin in Los Angeles. Cannell’s was the pre-eminent interior design firm in the nation. BJ continued her mother’s passion for the profession and professionalism in the design industry through her work with the LA Chapter and on a national and international level. BJ was elected president of the American Society of Interior Designers in 1994. BJ continues her design work with her own firm Peterson/Arce Design Group located in Los Angeles.

ASID established the Ethel Siegelman Library on the ground floor of their headquarters in Washington, DC. The library is a resource available to all interested interior designers and students. It houses books, CD’s and DVD’s on interior design and professional practices. Anyone wishing to make a contribution in either literary or monetary form in Ethel’s memory should contact the ASID Foundation at (202) 675-2365.

The Don Marrell Award (Industry Partner Merit Award)
Don Marrel owned and operated La Jolla Lighting for over thirty years and was one of our earliest Industry Partner Members. As far back as those of us who knew him can remember, Don and his staff were always there to support our chapter and members with unparalleled generosity. Working tirelessly, he gave both time and treasure whenever called upon.. To honor his memory and acknowledge his outstanding contributions to our chapter and our industry, an award was established in his name to acknowledge other Industry Partner members, who like Don give outstanding service to our chapter and to the profession.

The Deborah Thomas Award (Student Merit Award)

The DEBORAH THOMAS AWARD was created in 1998 to honor ASID San Diego student members for their outstanding service to the chapter.  The award is named in honor of Deborah Thomas, ASID for her contributions to the chapter, the profession and her strong support of the student membership.  Deborah was partners with her husband, Robert McCartney, in the firm McCartney and Thomas and they did wonderful design work in San Diego County.


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