“We Are Not Saving Lives with Interior Design” But What if We Were?

As someone who graduated with a degree in architecture, I initially found myself not considering how to tailor the aesthetic to the object a project was designed for. As long as it looked “pretty”, it must be serving its purpose. While I continue to dive deeper into my career as in interior designer, I am learning just how important it is that we as designers consider the actual functionality of a space. Functionality allows us to create beauty, rather than just making a space “pretty”. There is a difference.

I was fortunate enough to spend an evening with Rosayln Cama, an accomplished, published, and vivacious interior designer from New Haven, CT. Roz Cama focuses on Evidence Based Design (EBD), a process in which a designer is to use credible research and experience when making design decisions for a specific built environment. Miss Cama spoke in depth about how this category of design is extremely prominent today in the realm of healthcare.

Many of us have experienced a hospital setting before. Whether it be visiting a loved one, seeing it on television, or in more unfortunate cases, being the person that is hospitalized. We have almost always seen “the curtain”. The thin, dismal piece of fabric acting as a partition between patients and staff. What is often overlooked is the detriment that the curtains bring to clinics and hospitals; an excessive amount of germs, scarcity of privacy, and lack of acoustic control. Roz Cama then asked the question, “What about glass?”. Glass has now become a feasible alternative option to the sordid curtain.

As Roz Cama spoke about the benefits of the working alternative of glass, she had broken the benefits into four separate categories. Infection control, dignity and privacy, safety and visibility, and beauty and satisfaction. Glass is an incredibly easy material to clean. With the right cleaning solutions, the use of glass can vastly decrease the amount of germs and pathogens passed in patient rooms. The material of the curtain may act as a partition for privacy in patient rooms, but glass acts as a physical barrier from floor to ceiling. In turn, the patient feels the sense of a “wall” where their personal information and privacy is confined to their own space. Simultaneously, glass material may take on a myriad of designs. For instance, glass can be designed with a faded gradient or frost, or even given a graphic pattern to create privacy whilst allowing staff a view into the patient space. In short, the patient is safely secluded from public spaces and modestly monitored. Lastly, the sleek and modern design of glass allows for a more minimalist approach to healthcare design. The borrowed light that it provides fills spaces with natural light, creating an uplifting, healing environment.

My evening with Roz Cama was pleasurable, enticing, and inspiring. Cama’s findings originated from a place of passion for helping others. No, we are not part of the healthcare team but Roz Cama forces the question – “but what if we were?”. With our knowledge in healthcare design, how can we be the healers? In our field, with the idea of glass in medical spaces in combination with Evidence Based Design, we’re able to explore what it takes to help a patient.

As a closing note, we have published this thoughtful article with Meryl’s permission. Meryl left her IDO team this past May, to pursue other opportunities and “dive deeper” into her career as an Interior Design. We thank her for our valuable contributions to our team and continue to wish her success in all she does.

Written by Meryl Rosemarin