Jess Silverio was born in Manila, Philippines and moved with his family to Seattle when he was six years old. He worked in healthcare for 20 years as a certified nursing assistant before enrolling in NYSID's BFA program. After completing the BFA program in 2013, he continued his studies in the MPS Healthcare Interior Design program and graduated in August 2014.
What made you decide to change careers and go into interior design?
I was studying fine arts at a college when I started working in healthcare. I was the youngest of eight children and didn’t want my parents to go bankrupt putting another child through college, so I took a full-time job in a hospital to pay the bills while also attending school full time. I ended up dropping out and never finished my undergraduate degree. I worked in different capacities at various Seattle hospitals, including a job in an orthopedics department. The department was located in a newly designed section of the hospital, but it was so poorly designed and inefficient, that I was constantly imagining what else I could do with the spaces, including the patient rooms. I was tired of mauve and sterile rooms! I was passionate about helping people and wanted to make a difference through design.
What brought you to NYSID?
There weren’t great interior design programs where I was living in Washington. New York is such a great city for art and design; that is what initially drew me here. While I was working toward my BFA, the College announced the MPS Healthcare Interior Design program, and it was perfect for me. It’s so important to provide an efficient, positive place for the staff to work in and a comfortable place for the patient. I loved the collaboration and teamwork involved in working in healthcare. That’s part of the reason I love NYSID too. It’s been such a supportive and warm community.
Is the MPS Healthcare program what you expected?
The first semester is very research focused. You learn about the history of healthcare (not just here in the US, but internationally), the business of a hospital, and the hierarchy of all the departments. It sets the stage to do design work that we could support with research, case studies, and literature reviews, and so on. We also learned about building systems – HVAC, air circulation, water systems, sustainability, lighting, and materials used in healthcare design.
We got to go on a lot of field trips, which is great. We went to New York-Presbyterian, the bone marrow transplant facility at Columbia University, the cancer center at Memorial Sloan Kettering, and another hospital in Long Island. Actually, our first studio project was a skilled nursing facility (Kendal on Hudson) in Sleepy Hollow. Our class was doing a project on memory care for dementia and Alzheimer’s patients. It was exciting because Perkins Eastman gave us the floor plans they created for Kendal on Hudson so we could design our own in the studio class.