The Jenesse Center in the greater Los Angeles region is known for the care, support and assistance it provides domestic violence survivors. California State University, Northridge interior and apparel design students used the tools they learned in the classroom to thank those who selflessly give of themselves to help others — the center’s employees.
CSUN associate professor and internship coordinator for interior design Anu Thakur worked side by side with apparel design instructor and internship coordinator for the merchandising program Shirley Warren. Together, they had a cohort of 50 senior internship students to create interior and apparel design concepts for the Jenesse Center’s staff and their workspaces.
Interior design concepts include using color and space at the center, where staff members can unwind after helping their clients. Apparel design students worked on building a multifunctional wardrobe for employees, whose days may include a staff meeting, visiting a client’s house and a dinner event.
The Jenesse Center is the oldest domestic violence intervention program in Los Angeles and has helped more than 40 thousand survivors and their children since its beginnings, giving the internship students an opportunity to use what they’ve learned in the classroom for a worthy cause, Thakur said.
“We thought the Jenesse Center would be a good place for students to come together and help their clients improve their personal presentation, environment and self-esteem,” she said. “It helps meet both the physical and psychological needs of the staff of the Jenesse Center. This became a wonderful addition to their internship experience.”
The students also had an opportunity to take their design skills to more interpersonal and societal levels through the project, Warren said.
“We want our clients to feel comfortable and warm. We want to disarm them,” she said. “How do we make them comfortable with us? That is what the students are creating. They are also learning what is going on in society. A lot of students were not even aware of the Jenesse Center or what it did until this project started.”
Thakur said the project broadened many students’ perspectives on what they can do with their design degrees after graduation.
“Design is often narrowed to just glamor,” she said. “[The students] didn’t know their profession can get involved in these philanthropic ways. It does open their eyes.”
The project lasts for a semester, but Warren said she believes its applications could be used by future students with other nonprofits.
“This is all from the internship class,” Warren said. “It’s so rewarding for the students because they are giving back to their community.”