Professional interior design melds functional and aesthetic qualities of spaces with current codes to protect public health, safety and welfare. Interior design for people with dementia requires additional considerations to respect each individual without compromising dignity or comfort.
RLPS has been designing senior living communities since the 1950s. Specialized settings to support people with dementia emerged in the early 1990s and demand has increased significantly since that time. More recently, some senior living communities are moving away from a separate setting for people with dementia. This integrated living approach requires appropriate staff training, effective use of technology and community-wide supportive strategies to provide safe and comfortable living spaces for all senior residents regardless of cognitive abilities.
There is no single “right” answer. Our team draws on evolving research, specialized programs, and input from our clients to inform our approach to support the needs of people with dementia through interior design. For example, intentionally designed spaces for programs such as Montessori or Opening Minds through Art (OMA), function as a silent partner reinforcing these research-based initiatives.
While social distancing remains a priority, outdoor venues have provided opportunities to get outside and gather in small groups. Restaurants across the country have been able to open outdoor seating areas prior to dine-in options. Many of the current interior design trends for outdoor spaces reflect their popularity for life plan communities, 55+ housing, school and university campuses and hospitality venues.
Even when we are not experiencing a pandemic, biophilic design principles reinforce the value of spaces that meet our innate need for nature connections. The WELL Building Standard calls for its projects to have a biophilia plan to incorporate nature through environmental elements, lighting and space layout. This includes interior settings as well as porches, patios, courtyards, dining terraces, pool decks and rooftop venues that encourage people to get outdoors.
Change can be exciting, frustrating, challenging, disruptive, refreshing and overwhelming. And as illustrated by the COVID-19 pandemic, it can be abrupt and unexpected. The present challenges to creating safe workspaces, hospitality venues, educational spaces and senior living communities are daunting. Social connections and the use of shared and public spaces are confined to the parameters of social distancing guidelines. However, the renewed focus on healthy environments and infection control may also yield positive COVID-19 design impacts on commercial interior design. Our interior designers share their professional perspectives regarding COVID-19 design impacts, the current realities and anticipated lasting changes.
As many of us have become telecommuters, at least for the time being, we are taking a look at how flipping the recent Resimercial Design trend could be beneficial to our productivity and well-being. We asked a few of our interior designers to suggest some commercial office design features that could be applied to our home workspaces.
As a firm that provides commercial interior design, the RLPS Interiors team must consider not only aesthetic appeal, but also ergonomics, health, safety, and accessibility for our clients’ spaces. Another important, but sometimes overlooked, consideration is acknowledging a sense of place—the climate, culture, history and traditions of the locale where the space is located. This is certainly the case for hospitality venues or senior living communities, but also holds true for commercial offices, cultural, municipal and healthcare settings. Highlighting and incorporating the physical and social qualities of a specific region into the interior design or remodel creates a sense of authenticity and resonates with those using the space.
Aesthetic appeal is obviously an important component of interior finishes such as flooring. However, there are a myriad of other factors required to provide more than just a positive first impression. As interior designers, we are constantly researching products and reviewing quality of construction, durability, and environmental impacts. We consider conversations with our clients regarding maintenance procedures and goals to be crucial for selecting the most appropriate product for each application.
Enduring appeal requires not only quality materials and manufacturing, but also proper maintenance for each flooring type.
As professional members of the International Interior Design Association (IIDA), the RLPS Interiors team regularly researches new products, evolving code requirements and industry trends. We take many of our design cues from hospitality venues, the best of which set the standards for brand identity, distinctive style and positive user experiences.
According to its website, BDNY is the creative nexus of the industry—bringing 8,000+ designers, architects, purchasing agents, hoteliers, owners and developers together with 750+ inventive manufacturers of design elements for hospitality interiors. This year several members of our team had the opportunity to attend the event and participate in site tours, product exhibitions and continuing education seminars.
Over time, buildings wear out, consumer expectations change and attitudes adjust. Reinvention is an ongoing and essential process of evolving and adapting to changing trends, commercial design standards and consumer priorities. Reinvention provides an exciting opportunity for good stewardship and long-term viability, while breathing new life into existing spaces.
Recently during focus groups at a senior living community, we were somewhat surprised when an elderly woman living in personal care pulled us aside to share her desire to have a designated space for happy hour so she could enjoy a drink before dinner. In retrospect, it probably should not have come as a surprise that someone would simply want to continue a cherished tradition she had enjoyed throughout her adult life. While health issues or medications can be an issue for some older adults, many are increasingly expecting appealing bar options in senior living. This upward trajectory is expected to continue as the Baby Boomers reach typical move-in ages. A growing number of active adult and senior living communities are introducing sleek bars, cozy pubs or flexible lounge spaces to respond to the demand. Some communities are also incorporating specialty coffee and tea selections into their bars to provide something for everyone.