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  • Natalie Spies

  • Development in Context: A Home for Friendless French Girls

    Interior Design (MFA)

    Advising
    Jeanne d'Arc Residence was built as a mission of the sister order of the Congregation of Divine Providence to house French immigrant women in New York City. The New York Times announced the opening of the residence in 1912, describing it as a home for friendless French girls who came to the country. Today the residence is still run in part by the Sisters of Divine Providence and houses 140 women. One of these women happens to be me, and while I am neither friendless nor French, I am part of the current Jeanne d'Arc community, one composed of women of diverse origins and several generations seeking to further their career or education in the city. Jeanne d'Arc can be framed as a social system of interacting, interdependent people with their own way of communicating, organizing, and developing values. This view aligns with the systems theory assumption that the characteristics of a community are not found only in the individuals—the whole community has a unique essence. The intention of this study is to shed light on how this essence is assembled through a network of parts. Development in Context is a series of case studies designed to reveal the interactions between spatial and social systems by using interior objects as probes to impose changes in the environment. My study proposes that designers should expand their consideration of this spatial-social interaction to derive more effective interior design solutions in a built environment.
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