Submit your design to 2021 IDA DESIGN AWARDS

Jessica Wing Lam Ma

Savannah College of Art and Design

Emerging Interior Designer of the Year for ‘Independent Living Centre’

One in 59 children are diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in the U.S.A. and need educational services until the age of 21. Centers for Independent Living exist to aid training for ASD individuals to learn and practice independent living. The mission is to create a specialized facility to help teach these individuals with real life experience, accommodating the needs of all users while following universal design principles.

What do you see as the strengths of your winning project and what does this award mean to you personally?  

With a strong interest in health care and the medical field, I knew I wanted to use design to translate the importance of spaces and how they can impact people of all communities. My project reflects a space that encourages individuals to find their identities and potentials. Putting the users first and studying human interactions was what strengthened my design purpose. My concept “Against the Grid” strives to branch beyond traditional healthcare interiors and re-interpret the future and potential of impactful interior experiences.

What impact has winning this IDA Award had on your career/opportunities?

This award has restored my confidence as a rising designer – and has recognized my approach to creating my passion projects. I believe opportunity strengthens my desire to question the boundaries of design, and how I can become part of the new generation of curious creators.

How/when did you discover that you wanted to work in design?

I always knew I loved to create – whether it being art, music or design. However, I only discovered the beauty of pursuing design when I immersed myself in something, I felt no purpose in. Defying my creative side was something I struggled to contend to. Today, I am super happy that my hobbies, passion and purpose are united.

Tell us about a project which has been your greatest achievement?

My project – “The Independent Living Inc.” has definitely been one that has drawn a lot of attention from both people within and outside the interior design industry. While the project dives into the transformations of healthcare related spaces – I believe all spaces should be created with the goal of wanting everyone to feel connected to the space. 

What do you think are the biggest challenges and opportunities in your career/industry now?

Human lifestyles and interactions are constantly changing, and I think the beauty in that is that it inspires creators to question and think ahead. The challenge of change is something I believe every industry fear, but really is the key to pushing the limits and carving a better world for the generations to come.

What would be your dream design project?

I am very interested in sustainability and re-defining the future of homes that can be accessible to people of all communities around the globe. This is definitely a project I would love to dive into as I gain experience in my design journey.

What kind of questions do you ask before beginning a design project?  What piece of information is of utmost value?

As a student designer, I always asked myself – “What can I do that has not been done before?” I took school as an opportunity to explore conceptual ideas and to create projects that would question whether such ideas could make their way into reality. That is the greatest part of learning – embracing curiosity as a creator.