A common misconception about interior design, says Ielyzaveta Ignatyeva, is that it is a decorative pursuit geared toward the affluent. The sixth-semester Interior Design student has just been selected as the East Region finalist for the 2019-20 Interior Design Educators Council Student Competition for her design for HOPES, a community outreach center for the homeless.
“This project is important to me. I want to improve people’s lives through design,” she says.
Ignatyeva’s HOPES center would provide essential needs, temporary comfort and security for homeless visitors. It is suited for services focusing on “reinventing lives and gifting them hope for the future,” she says.
“Based on a robust research foundation, Ielyzaveta’s project illustrates the depth of understanding of the client, and fulfills programmatic requirements. It reflects sensitivity to the needs of the homeless population; it is elegant and beautifully presented,” says Assistant Chair of Interior Design Grażyna Pilatowicz.
Ignatyeva’s design proposal aims at combating the stigma associated with homelessness. “Furniture layouts and design would act to limit anxiety and be as individualized as possible, and will allow for a pragmatic design,” she says.
“My focus is on providing specialized activity areas, for counseling and career-building, technology and skill training, social collaboration, outdoor experiences, and areas for pets, to accommodate the concerns beyond just physiological needs.”
Her forward-thinking design for HOPES includes eco-friendly, upcycled and affordable furnishings, finishes, and materials.
“I want to help alleviate the fears that come with being homeless and looking for shelter. The visitors will be welcomed and not overwhelmed by an over-designed space,” she says.
HOPES reception area
Ignatyeva grew up in a small town in Ukraine raised by her mother and grandmother. Her first attempt at design was building an alcove-cafe in her backyard.
“My passions were landscaping and interior design. I was also interested in hospitality and residential design from an early age, being fascinated with beautiful homes, restaurants, and hotels,” she says.
This past summer, Ignatyeva worked for a New York City boutique specializing in hospitality and residential designs. “Since then, I started noticing a target gap, specifically, underserved communities, when it comes to interior design. My new passion is interiors that are inclusive of all income levels and social status.”
The message communicated through Ignatyeva’s design is: “feeling human, feeling heard and respected,” she says. “We need increased focus restoring the lives of people who have fallen victim to neglect.”
“We are proud and delighted that Ielyzaveta’s project will now be judged against the best Interior Design schools from around the country. In our eyes, she is already a winner, ” says Professor Grażyna Pilatowicz.