Are You Living Better (and dare I say) Working Better?

October 21, 2016

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What an exciting week this has been. I was given a complete clean bill of health at Norwalk Hospital. I am officially cancer free. I have had my final treatment last Tuesday and my porticath removed last Thursday. I can’t begin to tell you how freeing this has been and how many creative ideas have arrived virtually out of nowhere. If you ever wanted to get an amazing new, creative, fun office design I would contact me right away – wow!


Tuesday morning at my monthly networking group, we talked about what is new and exciting on our desks. As always a lively conversation ensued. There is really nothing better than spending time with passionate and intelligent people, who are top notch in their industries.
I shared that I very recently spent a day in the city for continuing education at the New York School of Interior Design. This is the centennial of NYSID and they rolled out an amazing program called Interior Design: The Essential Profession. Speakers included top names in the design world covering a variety of topics. There is so much to cover I plan on posting a topic per week. I was all fired up this morning, so hang on to your hats.


If you know me or have been following my e-newsletters for a while, you have heard me talk/write about the importance of designing for well-being. Wellness in design was a major theme of the conference. Experts spoke about aging in place – growing old in your home instead of moving to a facility. This is a part of universal design – designing for all people whether they are losing their eyesight, hearing or memory or just simply dealing with all of the effects that come with aging.


One of the speakers, John Zeisel, asked how do we design spaces to the needs of dementia patients? His first point was that patients can be seen one of two ways. We can either use the Despair model, where we see the negative and spiral down into medicating, apathy and ultimately agitation. Of course, that then ends up just being a self-fulfilling prophecy, right? Or we can use the Hope model, in which we are curious and creative and we start a campaign for a slow fix. How does this work? Well first we have to be present, then grieve the loss of our loved one as we knew them before and then ultimately engage them as they are now. In this model, you can make a difference.


Zeisel proceeded to cite some examples. One of the big ‘problems’ with dementia patients is that they wander. Did you know it’s because they are bored? So adding interesting art (sometimes patients can help choose it) helps curb boredom. Doors that patients aren’t meant to open can be disguised while creating enclosed gardens with welcoming doors to invite patients to have a different view. Allowing patients to personalize their space is crucial in preventing depression and helping dementia patients have visual cues for memory. Finally, kitchenette areas can be made more welcoming with coffee, tea and comfortable seating and by adding a fireplace (hearth) to the living areas.


You are probably asking yourself what universal design has to do with office design. Learning about other areas of design allows me to apply those concepts in my own area of expertise. For example, there will still be people (boomers) in your work force, who are working later in life. At the least, they require different lighting, signage and non-slip surfaces.


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