IN ALL their years at the Philippine School of Interior Design (PSID), this year’s graduating interior-design students had never seen such
furniture and fixtures as a tilting tub, vibrating bed, grab bar, handrails, visual alarm system and signs written in braille. Nor have they come across the concept of mental mapping in any of their subjects. That was until several months ago.
For the first time in its 45-year history of annual graduation exhibits, PSID is addressing the special needs of the differently abled.
Dubbed “Dibuhong Umaakay,” the ongoing month-long exhibit at SM North Edsa in Quezon City, which doubles as the graduating students’ thesis, features 23 assisted living spaces divided into four sections: Dinig (heard for the hearing-impaired); Tindig (stand for the orthopedically challenged); Tanaw (outlook for the visually impaired); and Galaw (movement for the elderly).
Each section covers various areas of the house such as the living room, dining room,
kitchen, bedroom and lanai.
Like in years past, students were divided into groups composed of two to five members. Since lots were drawn, they had no way of choosing in advance what section of the exhibit and part of the house to work on.
Unlike studio sets, spaces are made of real wood, steel and concrete. Furniture and fixtures, some of which were designed and custom-built to address particular disabilities, are life-size and functional.
Jie Pambid, PSID director for external affairs and this year’s exhibit adviser, thought of the theme not only to challenge students, but also to inspire them to go beyond mere aesthetics by producing more socially relevant living spaces.
“We also wanted to create public awareness that interior design is for everybody, whether you’re disabled or not,” said Pambid. “If you think about it, the National Building Code now requires ramps for people on wheelchairs. A growing number of elevators already have braille signs.”
The exercise is also designed to introduce future interior designers to the possibilities of catering to “differently abled” clients. After all, said Pambid, everyone will grow old or suffer health- and age-related ailments.
“Apart from producing living spaces that are practical and useful, the challenge to make them beautiful by applying some of the things they learned in school is still there,” he added.
There were initial apprehensions among students in the beginning, but since they had no choice but to abide by the exhibit’s theme, they buckled down to work as soon as they got their assignments. To their surprise, they actually enjoyed and learned a lot from the experience.
Since PSID is working this year with the National Council with Disability Affairs, most of the students did their research interviewing disabled and elderly persons and their
teachers, doctors and caregivers.
Most of them worked based on the needs of an imaginary client, while some drew from inputs provided by actual persons with disabilities. (For a full version of this news feature, get a copy of the October 3 issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer or read the story online [www.inquirer.net].)