WATCH: Interior design for the poor? UP students make it happen
MANILA, Philippines – Interior design has been stereotyped as a profession for the rich. However, students from the University of the Philippines interior design class of 2017 would like to change this perception.
They recently mounted an exhibit on furniture and accessories designed specifically to improve the home living condition of Tulay ng Kabataan, a non-governmental organization that provides shelter to street children in Metro Manila. The exhibit ran from April until the first week of May.
The pieces of furniture they created, aside from being child-friendly, tried to capture the essence of childhood while instilling the values they have to learn.
Hierarchy of needs
The furniture designs are divided into 5 groups that were inspired by the concept of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, a motivational theory on psychology that is presented in a pyramid. The stages, as presented in the exhibit highlight safety, belongingness, esteem, self-actualization, and physiological needs.
“The idea is to design places (furniture, accessories, and toys) that fulfill different needs of the children while incorporating aspects of healing design as well as collaborative design,” according to the team composed of 30 interior design students from the UP College of Home Economics.
The concept also acknowledged the plight of street children as one of the most pressing issues in the country. The goal of the students was to understand the conditions that street children face so that they can integrate their knowledge into their design. This process will help “in the healing, rehabilitation and growth of the children," according to the students.
One of the furniture designs in self-esteem category was a stackable wagon painted in a children-friendly color. It aimed to teach kids how to be more independent and at the same time be responsible to take good care of their belongings.
There were also designs that took advantage of its multi-functionality, such as a table desk where the platform was detachable and could be used as a blackboard.
Some of the designs, meanwhile, were symbolic in nature, such as the desk lamp in the shape of a child, and tables and chairs that formed semi-circles when joined together.
From renovation to mass production
The project, dubbed “TAWID: Design Beyond Borders,” is spearheaded annually by graduating interior design students in the College of Home Economics. Since 2000, the batch projects have focused on renovating spaces like the UP Kalayaan dorm and a Gawad Kalinga village home.
In 2017, however, the tradition was sidetracked as the graduating class could not find a home that needs renovation.
According to project head Paulyne Kate Genson, most of the foundations they met turned down their renovation pitch.
"When we ran into Tulay ng Kabataan, it was one of our last choices. And when we went to the foundation, they also said we cannot do renovation, so we asked, 'What are we gonna do?'" Genson said in a mix of Filipino and English.
With the help of their adviser, the students decided to adjust their project to the needs of the foundation.
“[Tulay ng Kabataan said] maybe we could give them pieces instead. And because the foundation has so many centers, we just decided to mass-produce the pieces,” Genson said.
The students have already given the design to the foundation based on its needs. Tulay ng Kabataan has 14 centers in Metro Manila that provide shelter to around 220 street children.
Not only for the rich
Genson hoped that their project would open new doors to the interior design community to help those in the marginalized sectors of the society.
“Everyone deserves to have furniture and houses made for them and with their needs and preferences in mind....We also started thinking about ideas on interior design that could help in the housing projects for the poor. So there are many avenues for interior designers to help, but they have not been explored yet,” Genson said.
UP Diliman chancellor Michael Tan, who graced the exhibit launch, stressed the importance of interior design and home economics in society.
“Home economics is even more important in the 21st century. Home economics will move with the times, UP’s home economics will show that it’s just relevant, it’s indispensable for the society to move forward.” – Rappler.com
Dwight Angelo de Leon is a former Rappler intern. He is taking up Broadcast Communication in UP Diliman.