Women in Construction:

Interior Design in Space

 

Is your apartment well prepared for isolation? Before you say yes, read about Joanna Jurga, Space and Product Designer who specialises in how isolation can impact us! Read her amazing story!

Most of us have lived in some form of isolation for almost a year. We work, sleep and relax in the same apartment, sometimes even in the same room. Probably like many of us, you have slowly gotten used to the situation. But have you ever considered how living in isolation impacts your senses and mood?

We recently had a chance to meet an incredible woman, Joanna Jurga, who works as a Space and Product Designer and specialises in isolation aspects. We asked her about tips for our apartments' design, her career path, and challenges for women in technical professions. Let's meet this inspiring woman!


Looking for a Career Path

At first, Joanna’s dream was to be a painter and travel around the world. She fulfilled the second part, going for art studies in Singapore. As to her art path, she chose interior design. During those studies, they put much more emphasis on engineering aspects than artistic ones. Joanna had the opportunity to visit some construction sites in Warsaw, and she loved it. At that time, she planned to become a builder! She even rebuilt a rally car by herself and took part in the Rally Car Race from Russia to Kyrgyzstan. It took a lot of energy, money and time to prepare a car, but she successfully completed the race, finishing in second place! After receiving her bachelor’s in interior design, she went on an eight-month walking trip through Asia.


‘’It was a game-changer for me. People were honest and helpful. I learned a lot about myself, but I also saw how the world outside Europe looks like.’’


For her master's, she chose the industrial design. During her studies, she was involved in many different projects and worked as a designer. However, deep down inside, she had a feeling that something was missing. That is why she applied for a PhD, which was her second game-changer.


How to Become a Space Architect?

For her PhD, she decided to research how living on another planet would look, to be more precise: how interior design can help habitants living in isolation on Mars.


‘’Many of the professors looked at me like I was an alien. After all, four years ago, we did not have experience of pandemic, so it was harder to imagine that interior design really can help or destroy us. Not many believed in my project, especially from older generations. But I did not stop.’’


During the PhD, she also explored topics about light design in isolation. She found the Habitat Lunares in Piła (Poland) and applied there. After waiting for half a year, Joanna was accepted and became a commander for a mission (without any space experience yet!).


‘’It was amazing! Not only did I take part in it, but I could also see and have an impact on every research that we did!’’


After that mission, she realised that the habitat was not designed optimally. She created an internal audit, and as a result, started collaborating with the habitat. After some time, she went on her second mission, also as a commander. The mission's goal was slightly different, focusing more on redesigning the space structure and taking care of even the most minor design points. From that point on, her love for space only grew!


How to Be a Woman in Technical Professions

Since her childhood, Joanna had huge support from her parents, who did not want to push her into strict gender roles. However, throughout her career, she was not able to avoid sexism or gender bias.
One example was the comments after the Rally Car Race.


‘’After gaining a second place, many guys asked me about my boyfriend, husband or even with who I sleep with, in some way disbelieving that I could do that on my own! It was really annoying as I did all of it with my own hands.’’


During her studies, she could also hear some comments regarding her gender. For example, one of the professors told her that,


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‘’ ...she is so beautiful that she should have children, not waste time on a doctorate dedicated to life in space. ‘’

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After all these situations, Joanna thinks it is crucial to have strong self-esteem and be an expert in your field. She also believes in slow changes in the industry.


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‘’We need women engineers, astronauts or industrial designers. We need to show younger generations that you can become whoever you want. Our gender can define how we look, but not our skills and knowledge. We need both women and men in construction.’’

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As an example, she points out the problem of public toilets in cities. There are too few accessible toilets in many of them, which is extremely painful for pregnant women. Joanna thinks that one reason for this could be the problem of gender inequality. Usually, men are urban planners, and they might not include such aspects as they will never experience pregnancy. If we involve both genders, there is a higher possibility that the wider variety of needs will be considered.


Isolation vs Interior Design

Most of us during these times are spending almost 24 hours a day in our apartments, but only a few of us really adjusted the living space to these new conditions. We may create a space that looks beautiful in photos, but it is not suitable for living. So the first step towards change is to thoroughly look around and consider: What spaces do I need? What resources do I have?

But how does interior design influence our life? Joanna lists five main points:


  • 01

    Light
    One of the growing problems for our society nowadays is difficulty with sleep. Aside from mental health reasons that may cause it, there are also easy-to-improve causes like bad mattresses and poor lighting. Sleep is connected with melatonin that is produced in our bodies at night and stops in the morning. Nowadays, because of the increased usage of electric devices-artificial, blue light, our brains do not know when to start producing melatonin! That’s why it is extremely important to follow “healthy sleep routine” tips and turn off all electronic devices one hour before going to sleep. Another great tip is to change the apartment's light to warmer tones, around 2700 Kelvins.

  • 02

    Humidity
    It is very easy to become dehydrated, especially in winter when we have to turn on our heaters. Proper humidity should be between 40% and 60%. When our space doesn’t meet this standard, we often have headaches, dried lips, or we are waking up in the middle of the night to drink something. The easiest and cheapest way to solve it is water containers for heaters.

  • 03

    Materials
    Depending on what materials we choose, the acoustics, humidity and general functionality of the apartment will be impacted. Furniture that is cotton or linen is much better as it is softer for our skin. If we consider renovating, we should invest in wood flooring, which is a great sound insulator. However, if we cannot afford a whole renovation but still are encountering the problem of bad acoustics, we should consider carpets, especially those made from wool. This also has the added benefit of helping to maintain good humidity.

  • 04

    Colours
    While sitting at home during the pandemic, who has not considered repainting all the walls for some bright, energetic Marrakesh-style colours? According to Joanna, this is a common mistake! We choose a colour that may look great in the south of Europe or Africa, but we do not consider the sun’s position in our region. In the northern part of Europe, the sun is much lower, and the same colours may look sad, draining, and almost dying. Subtle pallets work better for us.

  • 05

    Plants
    When we were closed up in our apartments, we quickly learned that contact with nature is crucial. That is why plants should be in every apartment! Having plants at home is not only a great stress reliever but also provides better humidity. However, before going to the store and picking the most popular variety, we should consider where in our apartment we have windows and how much sunlight they receive.


Isolation vs Space Exploration

When we think about space and isolation, the challenges are pretty similar. However, as Joanna points out, we need to consider things on a much larger scale. As an example, while we also need proper light in space, it should also be able to imitate the sun and its natural changes throughout the day. Astronauts need to have contact with plants but closed water circuits must be invented to water them.

Even though it requires a vast amount of effort to consider all these aspects, Joanna is in love with her job. She also has bold plans! After her PhD, she wants to be accepted into the European Space Agency and become an astronaut! She admits that the admission process is extremely tough, as it lasts almost two years, has eight stages, and is very competitive (in the last recruitment there were 9,100 applicants for only six places).


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“I'm an extreme optimist. I believe life will find a way how it should be. For now, I'm sure I want to change the world.’’

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With her energy and determination, we are sure that she will make all her plans come true! For now, we can only keep our fingers crossed and share the story of Joanna Jurga as an inspiration for every girl that wants to work in space! If you liked our article, check out our other amazing stories of women in construction!


 
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2024-07-21 07:30:38