HOW CHANGING BEHAVIORAL HEALTH NEEDS AND AWARENESS IMPACT INTERIOR DESIGN

Our understanding of how patients with mental illness should be treated has changed dramatically over the past several decades—and so has the design of mental health treatment facilities. The design of hospitals and facilities can be critical to a patient’s recovery outlook and meaningful interior design, along with a better understanding of diagnostics and care, can have positive effects on mental and behavioral healthcare within communities. 

This year’s IIDA Power Lunch at the Healthcare Design Expo and Conference in New Orleans on November 4, 2019, revolved around the many complex ins and outs of designing for behavioral health needs, from the changing stigma landscape to taking into consideration care, recovery, and compassion. The event, hosted by IIDA and sponsored by Construction Specialties, featured an industry roundtable, which explored the intersections of design, patient outcomes, and community experiences.

Here’s what the experts had to say:

Recovery and Healing

Best practices for treating and housing patients with mental illness have shifted from custodial care to person-centered recovery. This means that modern behavioral health spaces are “challenged to meet safety and security obligations while providing humane and healing patient spaces,” says Walter B. Jones, Jr., AIA, senior vice president of Campus Transformation. 

In order to create patient-centric environments, these facilities are making design choices that promote recovery, encourage well-being, and improve treatment outcomes. This can include everything from utilizing calming color palettes and adding elements of Biophilia to creating community and family gathering places that provide both patients and families with a welcoming and transparent treatment process. Staying in an inpatient facility is often stressful, but design can serve as a catalyst for enabling patients to take control of their own healing and recovery.

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New Focus on Amenities

Healing and treatment in behavioral health settings are often enhanced when a healthcare environment “helps to promote a sense of community and self-care and aids in motivating patients,” says Tim Lucas, IIDA, senior interior designer at Gresham Smith. This approach to healthcare means that giving patients their choice of various amenity offerings becomes a critical component of behavioral health facility design. 

Exercise rooms, art and creativity studios, and access to healthy food choices, the outdoors, walking trails, and group and individual activities allow patients a sense of empowerment and autonomy. These options can also foster family involvement in the wellness process, and allow patients to create lasting bonds with fellow patients and their providers.

Safety Aesthetics

Within behavioral health environments, lighting, acoustic, material, and furnishing choices are strategically made in order to incorporate the safety of patients and staff into the design and functionality. 

“Successfully reaching this goal is a balance between evoking positive emotions through aesthetics, while achieving individual safety,” says Lucas. Designers can use the latest research on the state of mental health needs to help them make informed and successful design decisions. These decisions may encompass: 

    • Patterning: Flooring patterns, for example, should be kept to a minimum as high-contrast and glare can be disorienting to some patients.
    • Wayfinding: Wayfinding throughout a behavioral health space should be clear and consistent to reduce potential confusion and agitation. 
    • Acoustics: Providing access to a quiet environment is important. Certain sound absorption materials can be used to address acoustic concerns. 
    • Lighting: The use of fluorescent lighting should be limited and replaced with warmer-toned LED lighting in order to create a softer, more comforting environment. 
    • Furnishings: Furniture should be selected based on the level of a patient’s condition.  In certain cases, furniture should be weighted and immovable; in other cases, lighter weight furniture that can be moved is beneficial. 

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Compassion and Destigmatization

Design has the power to humanize and dignify, and in order to help combat the mental health stigma landscape, behavioral health spaces today need to convey a sense of trust. “When a patient feels stripped of their personal dignity—which often happens upon entering an inpatient unit—we find, as designers, that the small details we incorporate can empower the patient and lead to a sense of satisfaction,” says Kimberly N. McMurray, AIA, principal at Behavioral Health Facility Consulting, LLC. 

Gone are the days of facilities with sterile, impersonal rooms with anxiety-inducing austere architecture. Instead, patients and their families are offered modern design features and welcoming, soothing environments. Incorporating compassionate design aids in the destigmatization of seeking and receiving mental healthcare, and the humanization of patients. According to Sara K. Wengert, AIA, principal at architecture+, interior design, coupled with activism and changes in public policy, “can have a profound effect on the avoidance of stigma associated with mental and behavioral healthcare for members of our communities, as well as for the people receiving care.” 

The Confluence of Workplace and Hospitality Design: an IIDA Panel Discussion at Room & Board

As we near the end of the decade, we look back and understand that the confluence of hospitality and workplace has been the most significant movement in commercial interior design—a decade defined by the breakdown of barriers of design typologies in commercial interiors. And this convergence will likely continue and become more pronounced in the coming years. That was the premise to begin a November panel discussion that I moderated, hosted by Room & Board at its New York showroom.

More than 125 design professionals attended the lively event, with panelists Tim Duffy, Ind. IIDA, national key accounts manager for Room & Board; Annie Lee, IIDA, principal at ENV, and current IIDA New York Chapter president; Krista Ninivaggi, IIDA, founder of K+Co; and Barry Richards, IIDA, principal at Rockwell Group.

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From left to right: Panelists Tim Duffy, Krista Ninivaggi, Annie Lee, John Czarnecki, and Barry Richards. Photo by: Josh Wong Photography

The panelists explored the influence of hospitality design in creating welcoming workplace interiors, whether for established clients or co-working spaces—a work setting that, in many ways, supplies an “amenity base” for employees. With a client’s brand expressed in the interior, workplaces are designed for community and face-to-face interactions as well as productivity and employee wellness. This evolution has changed how designers specify contract furniture, with ancillary furnishings now representing the majority of furniture for a workplace interior.

“In the past, workstations and office desks were considered the main portion of the furniture order defining the overall office mood and character,” Lee said. “More and more, specialized social hubs for eating, meeting, and brainstorming have become the cultural focus, similar to what is found in hotels and restaurants. What was once called ancillary spaces are just as important, if not the main feature.”

“This influence of hospitality is infiltrating the workplace and challenging the notion of how we work,” Ninivaggi says. “Can we improve our relationship with ‘work’ by orchestrating the day-to-day through the built environment?”

More than 125 design professionals filled the Room & Board New York showroom for the event. Photo by: Josh Wong Photography

With a labor market that is still highly competitive, the design of the workplace matters to attract and retain employees—just one important element for building employee loyalty. And somewhat similarly, in hospitality design, a savvy interior that responds to today’s needs helps to build guest loyalty. As technology and travel enable work to be anywhere at any time, the panelists discussed how the design of hospitality interiors is allowing for collaboration and casual productivity within hotels.

“With the help of improved mobility in technology, the workplace can be anywhere,” Ninivaggi said. “Now, the lobbies of hip hotels shift the paradigm from ‘out-of-office social places,’ to the new yet familiar feel of informal ‘collab rooms.’ The business hotel as we knew it is gone, and it has been replaced by the warmly entertaining hotel.”

How is this change influencing furniture specifications for hotels? “Tables are the new sofas. We cannot put enough tables in our projects across the board,” Ninivaggi said. “People tote their technology everywhere and can easily be immersed in their occupations so long as they find a well-placed seat and table to perch.”

Featured image: Speakers listen as Annie Lee, IIDA, describes the influence of hospitality on her workplace projects. Photo by: Josh Wong Photography 

Collaboration and Communication: Key Takeaways from the 2019 Industry Roundtable

The 2019 IIDA Industry Roundtable, held in January in Chicago, culminated in a lively, facilitated discussion with designers and industry representatives on the topic of communication best practices. Drawing on a few of the hot topics from the broader Industry Roundtable conversation, including learnability, flexibility, and artificial intelligence, the following are key takeaways and excerpts of the discussion.

Of-the-Moment Versus Enduring

With the transference of “fast fashion” consumer expectations into our own industry, clients are questioning why furniture needs to last 20 years. While designers work hard to educate clients about responsible product specification and the advantages of well-made, warrantied furniture designed specifically for the workplace, this wisdom can sometimes fall on deaf ears. Designers are navigating this challenge by specifying a balance of timeless and timely product in interiors—but often feel conflicted in so doing. Here are some key thoughts from designers on the topic:

“The ‘fast-fashion’ product model doesn’t stand up, but there is a market for it, unfortunately. It’s more of a startup mentality: How long is something going to last relative to things needing to change?”

“We are responsible for considering the embodied energy of the products we are huge consumers of. A very finite life span isn’t helping the world. Products that are flexible, reconfigurable, and that offer multiple solutions will become more important.”

“In Scandinavia, companies make furniture with parts that disconnect and can be sent back for reupholstery. In fact, the government mandates buying furniture that can be updated. Will our country one day move in that direction?”

“In the environments we are creating, we treat some furniture elements as more permanent and infrastructural, and specify others that can be changed out in response to needs or trends.”

The 2019 IIDA Industry Roundtable brought together a multi-disciplinary roster of designers, manufacturers, and marketing executives to look at the future of work through the lenses of people, place, and practice.

Teach, Don’t Preach

Look beyond box lunches, 15-minute cookie breaks, and PowerPoint presentations when creating CEUs and education materials targeted at younger designers. Or any-age designer, for that matter:

“Ditch the PowerPoint and create video stories that seduce and inspire emotions—stories that showcase the beauty, simplicity, and sustainability of your design in simple ways.”

“It’s a myth that millennials only want two- to three-minute sound bites. If the information is pertinent and I’m engaged, I can sit rapt for an hour.”

“Consider restructuring how you’re putting together and synthesizing information. Tech rewired out brains: Once I get a point, I don’t want to hear it for 10 more minutes; I got it!

“I read recently that brands are not telling their stories in a linear manner because of their customers’ experience on the internet. The example given outlined that people don’t just watch one video or read one blog post but jump to various channels when exploring a brand or product.”

Feel-good Furniture

As technology automates the design process and frees up time for more conceptual thinking, practitioners are recasting themselves as “creators of emotional experience.” Manufacturers can support this phenomenon by promoting their product’ experiential side:

“Our premise is about elevating the human experience; we lead with that in every presentation and external communication vehicle. A client talk starts with a discussion about the ability of space to elevate the human experience—and to do the opposite if it’s not carefully calibrated and catered to the intended end user. Space is not a resource or a consumable or an overhead expense; it’s a strategic tool that can influence how we feel.”

“The workplace has done a 180-degree turn, customized to the DNA of the company. It doesn’t matter what we as designers think; it’s about how we are crafting an experience for this client specifically. That’s a shift in our critical thinking.”

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Who will populate the world of work in 2030, and what will matter most? We tackled that and more at this year’s Roundtable.

Corporate Culture Trumps Cool Café

Millennials are more interested in a transparent, communicative, and egalitarian office culture than they are in gimmicky furniture or amenities:

“I don’t need beanbag chairs; I want to work at a place with a leadership team that is reflective of the industry and the broader populace.”

“At my firm, we don’t have amenity spaces—but we do have an open door policy. I’d rather have a good office environment and easy access to leadership than a fancy cafeteria.”

Emotions are the New Ergonomics

Yesterday, it was all about height-adjustability; today, designers and their clients want products that promote mindfulness and support emotional well-being. Furniture that’s responsive, context-aware, and environment-adaptive will play a starring role in the future:

“Could our furniture be collecting different kinds of data than just occupancy and movement? For instance, information about a user’s state of mind?”

“The psychology of space and neurological considerations will become more primary to how we design interiors. Systems will be able to ‘read’ who we are—and what our needs are—based on smarter architectural infrastructures.”

“Several emerging technologies in the smart building arena—including smart materials, displays, and surfaces—have the potential to fundamentally alter our approach to the design of workspaces.”

Words to Live and Work By

In what was a very buzzword-heavy conversation, the following terms were mentioned repeatedly in reference to the design of furniture and product; take them to heart:

  • Acoustics
  • Adaptability
  • Choice
  • Comfort
  • Connectivity
  • Control
  • Convenience
  • Community
  • Cozy
  • Distraction
  • Flexibility
  • Focus
  • Head’s down
  • Mindfulness
  • Modularity
  • Privacy
  • Residential blur
  • Transparency
  • User-centrism
  • Variety
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Humans are hard-wired for social connection; community is as essential to our survival as food and shelter, and designers are ultimately “in the business of creating community.” -Cheryl S. Durst, Hon FIIDA, IIDA Executive Vice President/CEO

2019 IIDA Roundtable Participants included:

INDUSTRY EXPERTS AND SPONSORS

Jennifer Ruckel, 3Form

Mark Shannon, Ind. IIDA, Crossville Inc.

Julia Ryan, ESI

Michelle Boolton, Assoc. IIDA, Gunlocke

Anjell Karibian, Haworth

Alan Almasy, Ind. IIDA, Herman Miller

Meg Bruce Conway, Humanscale

John Newland, Ind. IIDA, ICF

Roby Isaac, Mannington Commercial

Jackie Dettmar, Ind. IIDA, Mohawk Group

John Stephens, Ind. IIDA, Shaw Contract

Catherine Minervini, Ind. IIDA, Sunbrella / Glen Raven

Jennifer Busch, Hon. IIDA, Teknion

Adrian Parra, Ind. IIDA, Vitra

Teresa Humphrey, Ind. IIDA, Wilsonart

FROM IIDA

Cheryl S. Durst, Hon. FIIDA

John Czarnecki, Hon. IIDA, Assoc. AIA

DESIGN EXPERTS AND IIDA INTERNATIONAL BOARD OF DIRECTORS

President

Gabrielle Bullock, IIDA, FAIA, NOMA Principal, Perkins+Will

President-Elect

Susana Covarrubias, IIDA, Gensler

Vice Presidents

Edwin Beltran, IIDA, NBBJ

Annie Chu, IIDA, FAIA, Chu + Gooding Architects

Jeff Fenwick, Ind. IIDA, Tarkett

James Kerrigan, IIDA, Jacobs

Angie Lee, IIDA, AIA, FXCollaborative

Marlene M. Liriano, FIIDA, IA Interior Architects

Jon Otis, IIDA, O|A Object Agency

Doug Shapiro, Ind. IIDA, OFS

Sascha Wagner, FIIDA, AIA, Huntsman Architectural Group

Members at Large

Christine Dumich, Gensler

Mike Johnson II, IIDA, AIA, Perkins+Will

Kelie Mayfield, IIDA, MaRS

Patricia Rotondo, IIDA, Antunovich Associates

Smita Sahoo, IIDA, bKL Architecture LLC

Neil Schneider, Assoc. IIDA, IA Interior Architects


Learn more about the IIDA Industry Roundtable, an invaluable “brain trust” session for manufacturers and a quality opportunity for designers to exchange dialogue on issues addressing the built environment.

IIDA Headquarters to Host Designers and Architects Talk

I am excited to welcome the design and architecture community of Chicago to the International Interior Design Association (IIDA) headquarters this spring for a superb series of talks.

IIDA, together with AIA Chicago in a first-ever collaboration, will present a series of Wednesday evening talks called “Designers and Architects Talk: A Series About Design and its Impact on Client Success,” that will address commercial interior architecture and design. Both architects and commercial interior designers will learn from the provocative discussions about projects, firm leadership, and design strategy.

March 20 – McDonald’s Headquarters: Impact on a Company, a City, and a Neighborhood

Speakers are Tish Kruse, principal, IA Interior Architects; Primo Orpilla, FIIDA, principal, Studio O+A; Scott Phillips, director of workplace management, McDonald’s; Neil Schneider, Assoc. IIDA, principal IA Interior Architects; and Grant Uhlir, FAIA, co-regional managing principal, Gensler. I will be moderating.

April 17 – New, Bold, and Entrepreneurial: Design Firms Changing the Face of Chicago

Speakers are Jason Hall, principal, Charlie Greene Studio; Ami Kahalekulu, partner, Twofold Studio; Sarah Kuchar, IIDA, creative director, Sarah Kuchar Studio; and Deon Lucas, AIA, NOMA, director, Beehyyve, E.G. Woode. The moderator is Chicago-based architect and AIA national board member Peter Exley, FAIA.

May 22 – Women Leading Hospitality Design in Chicago

Karen Herold, principal, Studio K; Jackie Koo, AIA, IIDA, principal, KOO; Laurie Miller, AIA, principal, Anderson/Miller; Meg Prendergast, principal, Gettys Group; and Patricia Rotondo, Assoc. AIA, IIDA, senior principal, Antunovich Associates. IIDA EVP/CEO Cheryl S. Durst, Hon. FIIDA, will be the moderator.

Ticket sales have begun for all sessions, and advance purchase is necessary to reserve a seat. Members of IIDA or AIA have a special ticket price of $10/session or $25 for a seat to all three sessions. The public is welcome at $20 per session. Student members of IIDA, AIAS, or AIA Chicago are free.

Sessions allow for 1 IDCEC-approved CEU for interior designers and 1 AIA-approved LU for architects.

Order your tickets now.

Thank you to Host Sponsor Corporate Concepts, Inc., and Champion Sponsors: Bernhardt Design, Mohawk Group, Mortarr, Patcraft, Shaw Contract, Steelcase, Tarkett, and Wilkhahn.

IIDA Design Watch: What Will the Workplace Become?

Work as we know it has shifted. With evolving demographics, immersive technology, globalization, and the blur between our personal and professional lives, what endures and what doesn’t? IIDA Executive Vice President and CEO Cheryl S. Durst, Hon. FIIDA, LEED AP, shares her insights on the top topics in workplace design today, the challenges designers face with an ever-changing workforce, and the workplace as the next level of education.

Mobility and Privacy Are King

What does it mean when we give employees choice in the workplace? Does it mean giving them height adjustable desks and control of their lighting? Yes, and then some. Workplace mobility – the notion of having multiple spaces to do work – is increasingly in demand and employers are taking notice by asking themselves how can they reinforce the idea that you can do your work anywhere in the workplace. The answer: “It’s your seat plus,” says Cheryl. “Your seat is your home base – that’s where you keep your stuff, that’s where you can have your own library – but work can happen literally anywhere in that zone that we call the workplace.”

And then there’s privacy, which is less about the open office versus closed office debate and more about acknowledging all the different ways we work in the course of a day. The number one complaint in the workplace right now is interruptions. What do we need to equip people with so that they’re able to get their work done with little to no interruption? Privacy in the workplace acknowledges that employees want – and sometimes require – a specific type of space to do their work. It doesn’t necessarily mean that every single area needs a private office, says Cheryl, but it recognizes functions such as HR, finance, and accounting – departments that handle sensitive material.

Designers as Managers of Change, Examples of Context

Every time a client relocates offices, designers are faced with the challenge of fitting more people into a shrinking space in the best way possible. “Design is the result of a real estate event,” says Cheryl, and having tough conversations with clients who too often get caught up in the now and not in the future, while painful, are crucial. With an office relocation, not only are designers designing for what the space will look like now and in the next three to five years, they are designing for what the business might look like.

Another challenge designers face is how to stay competitive in the field. For Cheryl, being “visually cognizant, culturally cognizant, [and] globally cognizant” is key to staying relevant. This means everything from reading the latest literature, learning about organizational behavior and cultural anthropology, and being aware of the shifts and changes in other industries and vertical markets such as retail, healthcare, residential, and hospitality. “People live and breathe in context.”

The Future of the Workplace

At the rate the workplace is going, its design will not speak solely on functionality and brand, but also credibility. The workplace of the future will become a place of education and professional development. Think: apprenticeship. For example, companies known for excellent customer service will attract people who seek to expand their skills in that area. “You are going to be choosing your workplace based on what you want to learn from them,” says Cheryl. “We’ll be attracted to places not only by the work that we’ll do but by the expertise we’ll acquire while there.”


IIDA Executive Vice President and CEO Cheryl S. Durst, Hon. FIIDA, LEED AP, and members of the IIDA International Board of Directors will be in Orgatec for a discussion on the nature of work. “People. Place. Performance. Defining Global Workplace Culture” will take place on Wednesday, Oct. 26. Learn more about the panel.

Featured image: the Newell Rubbermaid Design Center in Kalamazoo, Michigan, also the Best of Competition Winner of the 43rd annual IIDA Interior Design Competition.

Passion and Practice in Action at the 2016 Advocacy Symposium

Today’s post is written by Stacey Crumbaker, IIDA, Assoc AIA, who attended the 2016 IIDA Advocacy Symposium in Denver on Sept. 23 – 25, 2016. 

The second annual IIDA Advocacy Symposium flew by – a whirlwind of thoughtful, impassioned conversations dedicated to advancing interior design recognition across the country. Hosted in Denver by IIDA and the Rocky Mountain Chapter, the Symposium was an opportunity for interior design advocates to connect, share best practices, and reinvigorate our collective passion for the profession.

Practicing at the intersection of architecture and interior design, I’ve been supporting interior design recognition since moving to Seattle in 2011 and serving as the Vice President of Government and Regulatory Affairs for the Northern Pacific Chapter. Coping with a recent defeat at the capitol, the Chapter had taken a step back to reframe our approach to the legislative process. Our focus shifted to a broader definition of advocacy, which included engaging our city communities and developing a shared vision among our industry professionals. In parallel, the IIDA International Board of Directors prioritized advocacy and launched a series of initiatives to support change, such as the Advocacy Symposium and Advisory Council.  Continue reading