Professors find unique way to teach interior design

Kirsten Bowers

A sophomore interior design major didn’t know what she was getting into when she enrolled in Studio Problems in Interior Design II. She wasn’t expecting to be told to partner up in the second week and trace each other’s bodies.

“We traced our bodies and took our measurements,” Meredith Kaltenecker said. “We’re making them into paper real-life dolls.”

Students were told to trace and cut out their body silhouettes on craft paper, and the limbs had to be moveable. The students had to measure the distance between the joints on each limb with measuring tape and put pins in so they could adjust the arms and legs later.

“I thought it was fun,” Kaltenecker said. “Part of the fun was not knowing what we were doing in the end.”

The students learned that the project had to do with anthropometrics, which is the data that informs the design, and ergonomics, which is the application of the data.

“The purpose of the project was to get them thinking in terms of individual body measurements and the variation between the individuals, even in a small population like a class,” said Terrence Uber, studio coordinator and the lecture professor for the course. “It’s teaching them to collect data and then do an analysis of it.”

Uber said it is important for students to learn to design for the broadest population possible rather than a limited population.

He gave an example: If a company only had the space for one entrance, then they would have to choose between stairs or a ramp. The designer would choose a ramp because both able and disabled bodied people would be able to use it.

“At first I said, ‘Why are we building our bodies?’” said Jaclyn Czalkiewicz, sophomore interior design student. “But then they explained it and I said, ‘Oh that makes sense.’”

Pamela Evans, who created the project, said she came up with it based on the book “Measure of Man” by Henry Dreyfuss, which prompted workplace standards for building and design.

Evans said she wants students to “start to understand that even though we all look different, there is a median size to design for.”

Czalkiewicz said her favorite part of the project was measuring the bodies and seeing that they were all different. She said she even discovered that one of her arms is longer than the other.

The paper cutouts, which will be used for future projects, were put up along the walls of the fourth floor studio of Taylor Hall and can be seen from the windows at night.

The project will take place in a new course starting in the spring semester.

Contact Kirsten Bowers at [email protected].