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Inclusive Design

Inclusive, or universal, design is about more than just incorporating all of the latest codes, compliances, and guidance when designing a space. It is the art of accommodating the widest array of peoples with a variety of abilities through every stage of their lifetime. It should be functional for neuro-normative children, wheelchair-bound seniors, deaf or blind persons, and everyone else who may enter the space. The space should also function within the culture it’s built, celebrating its uniqueness in a functional space in a way that it’s population will innately know how to interact.

The floor next to a shower is often a slick area. Light fixtures directed to this area could help to alert someone to a slippery surface.
Human Factors

Accessibility needs to be factored into for every type of disability, but inclusive design goes beyond including a ramp next to a set of stairs. A well-landscaped ramp can give everyone the same, equal, and easy access of a space. Human factors must also address the diversity and population of a culture, addressing elements like cultural, gender, generation, communication, spiritual needs, and more. Each in turn affect how the visual cues of a space are perceived.

Wayfinding placed into the floor design using a color-guided pattern to orient and move visitors and patients through this medical space. Helsinki, Finland
Psychology in your Environment

Culture, religion, and social aspects affect how a space is perceived, giving meaning to shapes, symbols, and even color. These are important factors in wayfinding, which help us navigate the complexities of the space around us. This can be something as simple as following the green line on the floor of a hospital to reach the right department or innately knowing that an octagonal red sign means STOP. Place also plays a role in understanding the space occupied. It provides a foundational understanding, giving its community purpose and control, whether they are entering a home, hospital, grocery store, or more.

Close-up of artist Joan Miro's sketchbook at the Fundacio Miro Mallorca museum, Palma de Mallorca, Spain, 1987
Diverse Design
Culture plays an important facture in space and the Western world is no longer the driving force of design innovation. With booming populations and expanding metropolitan centers, India is known for combining traditional elements into techno-savvy designs. As a large and varying country, local geography is combined into the designs of their buildings, highlighting influences from cultures like Iran, Tibet, China, Mongolia, Persia, and more. In contrast, Nigeria, though the most populous country in Africa, experiences roughly the same high-temperature environments, meaning designs incorporate cooling and dry functionalities, usually incorporating central courtyards in their designs to promote natural cross-ventilation.

Sustainable Design

Sustainability is a topic at the forefront of contemporary interior design today. Not only is it better for the environment, for one’s health, and cost efficient; it also has low maintenance, a longer life-cycle and recyclable possibilities. This includes understanding codes, pre-occupancy evaluation of the space, bringing in as many natural elements as possible, making conscientious choices in materials, and providing effective energy sources. 

Paperwork and hands on a board room table at a business presentation or seminar.
Introduction to Holistic Design

Before you can even start the design process, familiarize yourself with the codes to make sure you are adhering to green and sustainability standards. Discover the guiding theories and principles behind biophilia, cradle-to-cradle design, environmental and health factors. Explore how best to approach a holistic design for your space. 

Shot of a man designing a skateboard on his tablet in the workshop
Green Homes

Many factors play into the designing of a green home, most notably the climate and environment of your area. This could be the floor-to-ceiling windows characteristic in the American South to help stimulate airflow in the humidity and heat or it could mean choosing insulating materials for your Alaskan home to keep warm in the winter. However, green homes may also mean living in a multi-family structure like an apartment, condo, assisted-living facility, or government housing that is close to public transit.

Close-up of artist Joan Miro's sketchbook at the Fundacio Miro Mallorca museum, Palma de Mallorca, Spain, 1987
Interior Considerations

After you learned what makes a sustainable structure, it is time to incorporate environmentally friendly materials to your design. Include energy-efficient windows, choose fabrics treated in less harmful chemicals, and up-cycled countertops for your kitchen. Bring in as much natural lighting as possible into the space, replace light bulbs with more energy-efficient LED bulbs, and use lamps as much as possible instead of overhead lighting. Find out what choices you can make to help your environment.