Up-and-Coming Student Designers at the NYSID Are Designing for Tomorrow’s Home
The world around us is changing in the blink of an eye. Environmental changes, sociopolitical shifts, technological advancements. Due to these factors, and more, how and where we live is also changing—and so is the future of design.
According to a report by the United Nations, 70 percent of the world’s population will live in dense metropolitan areas by 2050. In New York City alone, a population increase of more than 10 percent from current levels is expected by 2040. And for design-conscious creative professionals, the dynamic urban center isn’t just where they want to be—it’s where they have to be. They know that lasting, sustainable solutions to a housing shortage won’t take a single form but will require a spectrum of thought and design as varied and unique as the people who call NYC home.
To commemorate the New York School of Interior Design’s 100th anniversary, a select group of NYSID’s post-professional MFA students were tasked with addressing this conundrum: How can emerging trends of micro living and sustainable design confront and subvert the new reality of more people in ever-dwindling space? The resultant exhibition, Designing Tomorrow’s Home, offers a distinctly 21st-century take on the future of hearth and home in the Big Apple.
Designing Tomorrow’s Home is open to the public through Dec. 3, Tuesday–Saturday, 11 a.m.–6 p.m., at the New York School of Interior Design Gallery, at 161 E. 69th St.
Joseph Goldstein, NYSID faculty member and principal of JGArchitects, told us that the students take into account several factors during the design process. They begin with understanding housing design over the centuries, cultural differences, and shifts in culture. “Those shifts in how rooms are designed can often be linked to new technologies and sociopolitical changes,” he said. “We then ask what new technologies and sociopolitical shifts could be ahead of us when anticipating the design needs of the future.”
Living Under a Bridge
NYSID post-professional MFA Kevin Garcia showed us how even one of NYC’s most iconic landmarks—the Brooklyn Bridge—conceals thousands of square feet of underused space. For a truly sustainable future, it’s not about creating more but re-envisioning and repurposing what’s already in front of us.
“The use of alternative and innovative spaces is, in my opinion, the best approach to resolve the overpopulation problem in many cities,” explained Garcia. “Having said that, I know that incorporating living developments in places that were designed for a completely different use can be rather problematic.”
But Garcia accounted for this in his approach. The first step was recognizing that the design wasn’t limited to a “regular house” to solve the issue. “These locations are challenging, and a typical design solution cannot be the answer. Subsequently, we need to identify the benefits provided by the location itself. We need to maximize those benefits and celebrate them. My design of housing within the Brooklyn Bridge did just that.”
Nestled beneath the Brooklyn Bridge, Garcia’s modular apartments become a natural extension of the existing structure, drawing on the robust engineering of an architectural marvel that has stood for over a hundred years. An added bonus, said the designer, is the eco-friendly and sustainable aspect of tapping into a structure that already exists—a structure built to last. From a central hallway, individual units open up to unique, arresting vistas of the East River and New York Harbor, asking the viewer to reconsider their relationship to the visual landscape of the city itself.
The effects of global climate change are inescapable, and they are predicted to impact coastal city dwellers especially hard. With sea levels projected to rise as much as 3 feet over the next century, the question on the minds of some New Yorkers is how the rising sea levels will affect beloved cityscapes, buildings, and dwellings. For one designer, the answer to that question may depend on how willing we are to get in touch with our inner Jules Verne.
Ilya Pulyaev wants us to consider one resource that isn’t in short supply—the water surrounding the city. The residences Pulyaev designed are essentially submarines, in constant electronic contact with one another to avoid collisions and achieve the most efficient use of New York City’s waterways. The units are also able to dock in specially designed stations to get shelter from inclement weather or mingle with their submersible-dwelling neighbors.
Pulyaev’s concept proposes that demarcations in the use of interior space take their cues from the natural world. Above the surface are communal areas, like the observation deck, with an emphasis on openness, light, and space, courtesy of 360 degrees of glass and a sweeping panoramic view of Lower Manhattan. Below deck, so to speak, are more private quarters, featuring streamlined, nautical fixtures enlivened by cheerful color and digital augmentation, as well as the ever-changing aquarium of passing marine life.
They say if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere. But if that doesn’t pan out, Praghathi Sholapur sees no reason you shouldn’t be able to take your home with you. While other designers look to the water, Sholapur looks to nature as a whole.
“Biophilic design has been proven to help reduce stress, enhance thoughts, and increase efficacy,” Sholapur said. “By increasing our affiliation with nature and including it in our designs, our satisfaction with the constructed environment will grow.”
With this in mind, Sholapur invited nature to take center stage in the design. The open, multilevel floor plan showcases the best of both worlds, blending nature and a sense of home. The design promotes a feeling of openness and flow while simultaneously giving each space its own function and purpose. An economy and balance prevails in the cool blues, textured grays, and natural hardwoods, while the floating stairs and cable railings complete the impression of a restrained and contemporary industrial aesthetic.
Sholapur explained that the design was strategically aligned with the space’s overall sense of purpose: “The concept required a neutral palette that could be made to fit anyone’s tastes or needs. It also addressed the rising costs of construction and moving such a structure with the materials used in the design.”
The Strong Foundation of Education
Garcia, Pulyaev, and Sholapur offer a taste of the Designing Tomorrow’s Home exhibition as a whole. Several other students’ work is also showcased, displaying the innovation and strategic thinking encouraged by the NYSID’s program and faculty.
“We start by asking them to look outside and beyond the field of interior design. We encourage them to study how space is presented in other media, like film, and to confront social, economic, and political issues such as urbanization, social equality, and sustainability,” said faculty member Edwin Zawadski, principal of In Situ Design. “The students present research and sketch exercises that engage these subjects and then bring their findings forward into their designs for the home of the future.”
Whether that future is constructed under a bridge, in the sea, or with multiple uses in mind, the NYSID’s faculty knows that one of New York City’s most crucial resources—the innovative energy and fresh perspectives of its young designers—will be at the forefront of this effort.