Search graduate:

Eliise Vasur

  • Faculty of Design
  • Industrial and Digital Product Design
  • BA
  • Creating a Feeling of Home in a New Environment based on the example of International Students
  • Tutor: Heikki Zoova
  • Sheet Material
  • Customizable

Globalization has made the world much more open and people move even longer distances. How do people start to feel at home in a new environment?

In Estonian, we understand home as a lasting habitat with furniture and other objects, often including the habitant’s close circle of people, and where there is also a opportunity to rest and to relax. Interviews confirmed the fact that people think of home not only as the shelter, but as something much more.

The interviews concluded findings of ways how people make themselves feel at home. Some people had a travel charm with them, some needed to hug their teddy bear, some reviewed their photo albums, some only needed a good bed. Some on the other hand needed to continue their daily routine, for example hobbies like sewing, or entertainment, such as reading crime books and watching TV.

The interview answers created a mapping of where people do not feel at home. These places were the following: hospitals, studying and working abroad, at work, hotels, at school, at friends and moving. For this thesis target group, I chose international students, and did new interviews with the selected target group.

In the interviews with international students, I wanted to know how and with what international students homify their new spaces according to their own needs and restrictions.

Three main problems arised in the process of feeling at home in a new environment:

The opportunity to organise are limited.

When you are moving in, then you have to find a designated place for all your belongings, if needed the furniture is moved as needed. It was said that there is little opportunity to organise the things on the work area. With placing and moving your belongins in a new space you territorialise.

The room is restrictive and privacy is lacking.

All students appreciate privacy at their homes. Home is a place where there is a chance to take time off and be in your own bubble. Privacy was created with curtains or by separating space with curtains. Although everyone’s space had some privacy, then over time the same space got restrictive.

The empty walls are disturbing and restrictions prevent changing that.

The worst felt blank walls, which were oftenly covered by variety of item, like creating drawings or photos. The ones who moved the first time, where more afraid to change their space according to their needs in the fear of losing their deposit. Sometimes creative ideas where lacking.

How might we create a feeling of home in a new environment for the international students?

The final solution is a open-source drawings (as shown in Drawing 1 and 2), with which international students can create their own room separator for privacy and a board for personal customization made out of sheet material that is available for them, like cardboard.

Drawing 1.
Drawing 2.

In the solution, I had to take into account several restrictions. Arriving and leaving the destination sets luggage constraints. The solution should not cause extra stress for packing when it’s time to return. I also had to consider that the solution must be manageable and affordable for students.

Prototypes in a Staged Environment.

An email or a brochure with information is received by the international students, in which there is also a link to the drawings of the objects. The student will get familiar with the drawings and finds that they want to create the solution. Maybe they know where to find the cardboard boxes or uses the Internet and / or connections to find the necessary material and tools. This step will help to feel included in a new society. The student will arrive at home with materials and starts to making the objects. Due to the simplicity of the drawings, the process is enjoyable and students start to feel a lot more at home in their new home. Self-made things are their own and have absolutly no restrictions. During their studies, the students’ memories cumulate on these objects via collected pictures and things. Organising these items to the board and dividor gives the student the opportunity to territorise their space in addition to personalization and privacy. After studies, both the board and the dividor can be thrown into recycling or gift it on.

The feeling of home is where you create it – even if the possibilities are limited, it can be possible to create a cozy place for yourself.