Student Work

  • Interior Design (MFA)

    Natalie Spies

    Development in Context: A Home for Friendless French Girls

    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 residence's opening in 1912, describing it as a home hereafter for friendless French girls who come to this 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 individualsthe 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 leveraging interior objects as probes to impose changes in the environment. My study proposes that designers should increase their consideration of this spatial-social interaction to derive more effective interior design solutions in a built environment.