Interior Design Solutions for the Elderly; Clients with ADHD
Jessica Walsh, a 2013 NAU graduate with a degree in interior
design and a minor in merchandising, presented her final capstone project entitled
“Creative Healing at Any Age” at the 2013 Undergraduate Symposium. Her poster highlighted her design for a
functional art therapy center in Flagstaff for older adults. “The idea of art
therapy has always been a personal interest, and I wanted to learn more about
it,” said Walsh. The project became an opportunity to research how best to design
an art therapy center to meet the needs of this specific group of clients.
An art therapy center
for older adults
Through her research, Walsh discovered that an art therapy center
could cater to the needs of the elderly by utilizing color theory, textures,
and natural lighting. As we age, the lens of the eye starts to yellow, causing
colors to be muddied. Red and yellow are the most recognizable colors for the
elderly. Another targeted design element
is to highlight the contrast between the floor, walls, and ceiling through
color or texture to help with depth perception. Walsh’s color scheme for the
center reflected elements in nature (fire, earth, water, and air), which create
a calming effect while still incorporating bold colors, such as reds, to help
with visual impairments. According to
Walsh, by utilizing natural lighting and creating spacious rooms, an
environment is not only enjoyable and easily navigated by the elderly, but it
also provides a space where senior artists can work within an environment that
Designing for someone
Edan Maoz, a senior who is pursuing a triple major in
interior design, art history, and humanities, with a minor in museum studies
discussed his research in an oral presentation at the symposium. Maoz’s research
explored various ways people could improve their homes to help someone who
suffers from ADHD.
“I think that considering the space from another person’s
point of view is the most challenging [aspect of design].”
Edan explains, “Not only did I have to consider aesthetics,
but I also had to consider functionality issues. I think that considering the
space from another person’s point of view is the most challenging [aspect of
design].” For the ADHD client, for example, less is more. Through the findings
in Edan’s research, he made sure every aspect of the house would be designed
for simplicity and practicality. This included glass cabinetry to make it easy
for the client to find things, a laundry chute in the bathroom to make everyday
chores much easier, and using mostly shades of blue on walls because of the
color’s calming effect.
In addition to helping meet the needs of particular groups, interior
designers have an immense impact on our everyday lives, which often goes
unnoticed, notes Walsh. “When you walk into a bank, a grocery store, a
school—even a car dealership, you don’t realize that someone had to research
and figure out exactly what flooring, wall covering, lighting, ceiling
material, and so forth would fit the needs of that particular space,” she explained.
Every building that we enter has a very specific purpose and intention.
Interior designers quite literally create much of our everyday realities
through the spaces that we navigate, occupy, and learn in.