KBB Collective | The Designers' Corner

Archive for Universal Design

Aug 03 2018

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Design that Heals


As designers and architects, we have a responsibility to protect the health, safety and well-being of our clients and, by extension, the broader public. But can our designed environments go one step further and actually help us heal, too?

Wherever one is in the course of sickness or healing, our physical surroundings can change the way we feel and, as a result, help catalyze and speed up the healing process. We are constantly exchanging energy with the environment around us, from the land, water, plants, trees, sky and stars. Thus, where we live, work, sleep and receive treatment directly impacts our health, vitality and ability to heal.

Biophilic Design: The word “biophilia” stems from the Greek meaning “love life.” Research suggests that both natural and man-made biophilic environments exert a healing effect on the human body. For example, significant health benefits are observed and measured in neighborhoods with tree-lined streets (Karden et al., 2015).

Biophilic design reflects a person’s inherent need for nature and is a discipline that inspires the integration of natural materials and renewable natural resources. I believe biophilic design is healing for both the architect and the user, just as living, breathing structures are energetically nourishing and stimulating.

Homes: A holistically balanced home is essential for our body’s regenerative processes. If we design our homes – particularly our bedrooms and kitchens – to be as healthy and balanced as possible, our bodies are able to heal and detoxify at a faster rate. Some of my favorite interior design strategies for this include: using organic and renewable materials, prioritizing natural colors, layering in greenery and implementing thoughtful lighting design.

Healthcare Facilities: The design of healthcare facilities has been influenced by a number of trends, including elements of biophilic design, in recent years. A common theme has been a focus on patient experience. Whether it’s creating single-patient rooms with residential touches to make them feel more inviting or providing access to sunlight, views of nature or beautiful artwork, it’s clear that the healing process is supported by promoting patient comfort and satisfaction in the design of hospitals and outpatient medical centers.

Jun 26 2018

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Inclusive Design: Bathrooms


We have clients who are preparing their homes for every stage of life. From aging parents moving back in, to families with young children, today’s homes are being designed to serve multiple generations, personal lifestyles and physical abilities. So how do we design bathrooms to meet the needs of all people? The answer is inclusive design!

As a Certified Living in Place Professional (CLIPP), I believe inclusive design has the ability to be safe, accessible AND beautiful! Just because its function is to make life more manageable for those who are accessibly challenged doesn’t mean it can’t be eye-catching, sophisticated and chic. Remember, incorporating inclusive design features into your client’s new bathroom guarantees access to everyone and will save you money in the long run.

Some of my favorite ways to apply inclusive design within the context of bathrooms include:

– Towel bars arranged in a series offer a fun design solution that allows users of all heights to access.

– An under-mount tub with a generous deck serves nicely as a transfer surface to get in and out of the unit without sacrificing aesthetics.

– Threshold-free showers are easily installed by an experienced contractor and, once in, provide a beautiful, seamless look that can make a small bathroom appear larger.

– Hand-held showers allow users of all heights, ages and physical abilities to shower at their most comfortable level.

–Vanity nightlights built into the cabinetry create a safer space by increasing nighttime visibility. Lighting can be integrated with mirrors and medicine cabinets too.

– Bold pops of color can be used to make inclusive design more whimsical and fun. It also helps the user better assess depth of field.

– Grab bars and other safety features are becoming more attractive all the time. Consider integrating those near the entryway, toilet and shower.

– Contrasting tiles at horizontal sight line level enhance visual clarity and increase balance.

– Anti-slip floor materials come in all different shapes and sizes. Textured and rough-finished surfaces in tile and stone are naturally slip-resistant and look beautiful.

– Clearance is key. Where space allows, aim for a 36-in. clearance from sink to toilet to shower.

May 17 2018

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Inclusive Design


Last week I had the pleasure of attending an immersive education program at the Monogram Appliances Showroom, which is at the Design Center Merchandise Mart in downtown Chicago. Part of our program addressed universal design, or as I now like to call it, “Inclusive Design.”

What Is Inclusive Design?
Every design decision has to the potential to include or exclude clients. Inclusive design emphasizes the contribution that understanding user diversity makes to informing these decisions and thus to including as many people as possible. User diversity covers variation in capabilities, needs and aspirations. I think of it as, “designing for everyone from the smallest to the tallest.” The beautiful thing about looking at the subject from this angle is that it doesn’t concentrate on aging or physical disabilities but on creating design that makes a space safe and accessible to those who might have those disabilities now or in the future.

Inclusive design does not suggest that it is always possible or appropriate to design one product to address the needs of the entire population. Instead, Inclusive design guides an appropriate response to diversity in the population through:

– Developing a family of products and derivatives to provide the best possible coverage of the population

– Ensuring that each individual product has clear and distinct target users

– Reducing the level of ability required to use each product to improve the user experience for a broad range of customers in a variety of situations

Why Is Understanding User Diversity Important?
In my training with the Living-In-Place Institute, we are taught to think of the lifespan of a home. And if that lifespan is a long and healthy one, more than 1,000 people will interact with that home over that span of time. Within that group will be a large range of capabilities. Why not think about designing for the long term?

Additionally, failure to correctly understand people can result in products, furniture and appliances that cause unnecessary frustration and exclusion. This reduces commercial success due to increased returns and need for customer support.

Applying Inclusive Design to Interior Design
Some of my favorite ways of applying inclusive design to the practice of interior design include:

– Installing levers instead of door knobs to make them easier to grip and use

– Selecting products while thinking about the contrast between counter-tops, cabinets and floors to allow for vision difficulties

– Installing lighting in kick-plate areas to light up floors and provide the perfect amount of night lighting; great in bathrooms, kitchens and on stairways

– Incorporating technology to allow for voice activation of appliances

– Lowering appliance installation to accommodate someone in a wheelchair and incorporating vertical patterned cabinetry to mask the height changes. This is also a great time to talk about French door ovens for those with limited accessibility.

 

Oct 11 2017

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Design for Everyone

The National Kitchen & Bath Association recently hosted a webinar titled “Top Tips for Implementing Universal Design Strategies” with Dani Polidor, CKD, CBD, owner of Suite Artistry, in Rochester, N.Y. She is NCIDQ and CAPS certified and has been a Design for a Difference ambassador since 2014.

According to cohousing.org, universal design/build presents a shift in the approach to residential design and construction. Comfort and convenience, regardless of age, stature or ability, is the hallmark of inclusive design.

Why Was CAPS Created? 

  • – Americans prefer to remain in their homes as they age rather than to seek assisted living or other arrangements.
  • – Older consumers want a reliable means to identify the professionals they can trust to remodel their homes. Help facilitate the evolution of the home as needs arise.

Polidor identified the seven principles of universal design:

  • – Flexibility in Use
  • – Simple & Intuitive Use
  • – Equitable Use
  • – Tolerance for Error
  • – Perceptible Information
  • – Low Physical Effort
  • – Size and Space for Approach and Use

And she identified the different groups of people who could benefit from universal design:

  • – People with height restrictions
  • – Those who speak different languages
  • – The elderly
  • – Individuals who are disabled
  • – Even those without disabilities

She also shared real-life examples to identify solutions for designing for clients with various needs.

  • Hearing Impaired. Visual, motion and auditory assistive technology
  • Mobility & Accessibility Issues. Ramps, elevators, chair lifts; lever handles and electronic controls; occupancy sensors and rocker switches; drawers and open shelves; lowered cooking surfaces and drawer-style appliances; wall-mounted lavatories and comfort-height toilets; thermostatic or pressure-balanced shower controls; tubs that fir the size, shape and ability of the user; grab bars and benches in showers
  • Sight Impaired/Sensitive. Window films, remote-controlled shades; contrasting floor patterns and colors; large display screens