Now, the highly reputable School of Fashion and the Arts (SoFA) is not just about fashion. This year, it is expanding its programs to include interior design.
The Bachelor of Science in Interior Design (ID) course is The School of Fashion and the Arts Interior Design’s (SoFA ID) newly minted program that was recently granted its CHEd (Commission on Higher Education) accreditation. A full four-year degree program, which starts on July 23, it is geared to equip those who desire a career in ID with the proper design and technical skills.
Centered on design and the creative forward thinking process, it has all the right components to soon earn a place for itself as one of the leading ID schools in the country and quite possibly in Asia. The academic program focuses heavily on ID, ID technology and ID marketing while also incorporating general education/liberal arts into its course load. The program endeavors to be totally relevant to design while concentrating on the local market and abroad.
While the nation has several well-regarded and established ID programs, SoFA ID aims to carve a niche for itself. The founders and board members of SoFA ID realize that many of the strongest practitioners in the field have one major point in common a degree and/or work experience obtained overseas. They determined that while abroad, these minds rejected the status quo and embraced critical thinking and this is the factor that they tenaciously wanted to inculcate into the curriculum.
As explained by Dean Toby Guggenheimer, there are two key features that set this program apart from other design programs. Primarily, design is the absolute focus of SoFA ID to the point that all classes have been refocused to spotlight design. The second feature turns its focus on training the individual to transform into a designer. SoFA ID rejects group work as naturally some will excel and some will follow in this setting. The goal here is to develop leaders, not followers, and to highlight each student’s individualism and creativity. It aims to groom designers to work in the front office rather than becoming secondary personnel by pushing them to become strong designers and teaching them how to critique other designs. While design usually stems from the intellectual or emotional side, it is important to be able to critique from the opposing side to offer a different perspective. Each student is responsible for critiquing classmates’ work in an effort to make students more outspoken, developing critical method where students transform into leaders in their class by addressing, discovering and determining works of their peers.
Educators at SoFA take a step back and let their students step up by showcasing western individualistic traits while strengthening the Filipino cultural vitality.
As Dean Guggenheimer says, “We want to marry the Filipino with the global marketplace.”
Headed by the aforementioned dean and executive director for academics, architect Toby Guggenheimer, the team behind SoFA ID and the faculty have a wealth of education and experience abroad. An experienced practicing architect and interior designer for 20 years and president of his architecture firm in New York and in Manila, Guggenheimer helps redirect and redefine the school by drawing upon his experience at prior posts held as professor at Pratt University, Parsons School of Design and Fordham University in New York City.
When asked how the SoFA ID program will compare with the esteemed schools he has taught at, his reply was, “It’s difficult to compare as both Pratt and Parsons are well established, venerable institutions and we are a very new program. I would hope to emulate aspects of each. From Pratt the devotion to mastery of the process of design by each student. From Parsons the collegial, mutually supportive atmosphere.”
Hard at work: SoFA ID preps the creative individual to be a player in the global design market.
Interior designer Lisa Salvador acts as the academic department head for interior design. Holding a masters degree from Istituto Europeo di Design in Barcelona, Spain and a certificate from the Istituto Europeo de Design (IED) from Milan, Italy, Salvador with her young looks can easily be mistaken for a student headed to class.
Effervescent sisters-duo Ivy and Cynthia Almario honed their craft and wielded their talent in Los Angeles for 15 years, designing upscale residences, offices, hotels and restaurants before returning to Manila to set up their successful practice, Atelier Almario. Synonymous with chic and stylish, they are founders and board members who teach some of the lecture series.
Lawyer and entrepreneur Christine Laman boasts a resume one would be hard pressed to find an undergraduate degree from Georgetown University, a law degree from University of the Philippines and a master of law from Columbia University. Part of SoFA’s board, she possesses fantastic business acumen and proper ethics as an attorney.
In addition to the board members, dean and department head, a topnotch faculty, most of whom studied abroad, serve as successful educators to mentor the next generation of designers. The lineup of professors hails not only from academia but also have their own practices or are associated with design related businesses to bring real world experiences into the classroom. They impart their global point of view and bring a different dynamic to lectures and classes.
In addition to the four-year degree it offers, SoFA ID also has a few interior design workshops and lecture series similar to continuing education classes ranging from a few weeks to a few months to a full year. There’s a course for those who wish to polish up on manual and computer drafting and rendering. A basic interior design lecture series has been created for design enthusiasts who would like to educate themselves with a basic foundation of interior design. There is also an intensive workshop and review course to prepare students who are about to take the licensure examination.
SoFA’s new location, designed no less by Ivy Almario, is on the ground floor of ENZO Building at 399 Sen. Gil J. Puyat Avenue, Makati City. The campus comprises lecture rooms, drafting rooms, labs, studios, a student lounge and glass-enclosed library that is modern and reflective of what the school stands for: design and creative thinking.