Bringing It All Back Home: Designmatters Students Create Furniture for India’s Low-Income Housing Residents

"Living Home: India" Designmatters students, faculty and staff in Bangalore, India last summer.

"Living Home: India" Designmatters students, faculty and staff in Bangalore, India last summer.

Last term, students in Living Home: India—a transdisciplinary Designmatters studio led by the Environmental Design department—spent their summer investigating the living needs of low-income housing dwellers in India, and then building furniture prototypes for use in the type of high quality, low-cost housing championed by Ashoka, a social entrepreneurship nonprofit and partner for the studio.

Due to the reduced scale and high occupancy rate of the housing units, the students were tasked with creating reduced scale and transformable prototypes. They also needed to make sure the furniture they designed was environmentally responsible and could be developed in collaboration with community stakeholders and local craftspeople in India.

Above all else, the design brief for Living Home: India called for an understanding of the potential consumers of these furnishings. To accomplish this, the students—along with instructors David Mocarski, Cory Grosser and head of the Designmatters department, Mariana Amatullo—took a two-week research trip to Bangalore to immerse themselves in India’s low-income housing market and the work of Ashoka’s Housing for All (HFA) India Initiative, while also experiencing first-hand the cultural and aspirational drivers of their target population.

Overall, the hope was that the students would apply a set of fresh eyes to India’s current housing issues, needs and concerns and offer innovative solutions for products, materials and manufacturing for a user base estimated at 130 million individuals.

How did they do? Visit the project’s page on Designmatters’ website to find out.


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