St. Paul’s House, which has been serving the homeless population of New York City since 1945, has a newly designed and renovated dining room thanks to the Fashion Institute of Technology’s Interior Design Integrated Service Learning Project.
Located in Manhattan’s Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood, St. Paul’s House basement level dining room – which serves meals to over a hundred needy people each week – was a functional, yet poorly designed space. No wall divided the main dining room from the bathroom in the vestibule there was no available space for the plates used to serve the hungry.
FIT Interior Design students, under the direction of associate professor Carmita Sanchez-Fong, re-designed and renovated the space. A new herringbone wood floor, freshly painted walls, new wallpaper, a donated serving table, plus the much-needed wall to partition the dining area from the bathroom, were all completed in just over one week—and at no cost to St. Paul’s.
“What I say to my students is that we have to see interior design as an engine of social change,” says Sanchez-Fong. “How can we use our skills to begin to tilt the balance of inequality in our city? How can we have a positive impact on people?”
Other projects have included the homes of families devastated by Superstorm Sandy, the Bowery Mission Women’s Shelter, Hephzibah House, a Guatemala bottle school, Living Waters Community Center, and Restore NYC, a nonprofit that works with victims of sex trafficking.