Design Changes Lives


Although interior design is firmly established as a respected profession these days, the full importance of a designer's role and the impact they can have on improving quality of life in the home, at work, and at leisure is often overlooked.

Many businesses are driven by and dependent on good design, and interior designers can make a significant impact on the sustainability of a building. At KLC we firmly believe that social innovation and problem solving are an intrinsic part of an interior designer's remit, and they have a responsibility to create intelligent, effective and worthwhile designs which will improve the quality of life for end users.

As such, we have collated a series of informative and inspirational images which illustrate, quite simply, that 'Design Changes Lives'.

However, these are only a few examples and we would love to hear your own experiences of how design changes lives (#designchangeslives).

  1. Hospitals
    Hospitals are the most complex building type, with multiple design aspects to consider - access and circulation, sanitation and infection control, staff and patient safety, material sustainability, as well as aesthetics and comfort. Advancements in technology need to be matched by advancements in interior design to minimise risks to staff and patients.

    This theatre suite in Whiteabbey Hospital, Newtownabbey, Northern Ireland was redesigned by RPP Architects in order to improve overall clinical facilities, allowing surgeons to regulate the theatre environment, enhance patient monitoring and patient dignity, as well as bringing infection control in line with current legislation.
  2. Offices
    Studies have shown that our workplace surroundings are responsible for 24% of job satisfaction1 and, as such, can have a major impact on productivity, staff retention and overall business performance. A well designed office can be a joy to work in; just take a look at the Google offices in Covent Garden, London!

    The brainchild of designers PENSON, this office illustrates how the intelligent use of materials and excellent use of space can create a masterpiece of cohesion between visual fun and practical functionality, perfectly encapsulating the brand image of Google.

    1 Brill, M et al (2001): Disproving Widespread Myths about Workplace Design. Kimball International, Jasper, Indiana, p18
  3. Care Homes
    People who live in a care home spend a large proportion of their time within the boundaries of that home and good quality design plays an integral part in aiding the residents to live a full and interesting life. Professor Hilary Dalke, of Kingston University, recently led a study a called "'Living with Dementia' Can Design Make a Difference" which took an in-depth look at the design of Dementia care homes for the elderly.

    Factors which were found to be highly beneficial included intelligent garden designs; such as wheelchair friendly greenhouses and raised planting beds for less mobile residents, creating care home entrance halls which are light, airy and inviting to encourage visitors and residents. Simple actions, like making a cup of tea for a guest, can help people with dementia remember a normal life. The featured garden is that of Park View Care Home in Ipswich, which won an award for the Best New Sensory and Memory Garden in 2012.

    Professor Dalke's team reached the conclusion that a lack of design for independent living can itself cause a rapid decline for residents with Alzheimer's disease. People who have been moved to a more stimulating home have shown significant improvement in their physical or mental condition that was not directly attributable to greater luxury or more staff 2.

  4. Schools
    The design of school buildings has been a hotly debated topic recently, particularly with new laws being introduced restricting the size and shape of classrooms and the materials which can be used for future refurbishments and constructions. With this in mind, studies have shown that children in well-lit classroom environments received test scores 15% higher on average than those in classrooms with little or no natural daylight3. Interior design can therefore have a direct impact on our children's ability to learn.

    Illustrated above is The Cornelius Vermuyden School, a mixture of new and refurbished buildings, located on Canvey Island, Essex. Created by London-based studio Nicholas Hare Architects, the school was designed to be respectful of its surrounding residential context, as well as creating a modern and stimulating learning environment.

    3 Heschong, L et al (2002): 'Daylighting Impacts on Human Performance in School'. Journal of the Illuminating Engineering Society, 31:2, pp 21-25.
  5. Shops and Retail
    It's no secret that there's a direct link between good retail interior design and strong sales figures. Shrewd designs which show careful attention to spatial planning, colour psychology, lighting, ventilation and signage make a significant difference in regards to whether or not the customer will purchase the product - especially when you take into consideration that 76% of people never speak to a sales assistant when shopping.
  6. Our Homes
    The way that we utilise the space in our home environments has changed significantly in the past 50 years, particularly in regards to the kitchen. Interior designers have experienced a steep increase in requests to create a multi-use room where clients can cook, eat, open the post, entertain and help with the kids' homework. The importance of the kitchen as a central hub for the household is therefore being more carefully considered, with more and more designs including islands and breakfast bars, or surfaces which can be adapted for a variety of tasks. Essentially, a well designed, multi-purpose kitchen/dining/living space can help bring the family together.
  7. Symbolic Design
    The spectacular creation of the Olympic Cauldron for the London 2012 Olympic Games, by British designer Thomas Heatherwick, is an outstanding example of design symbolism. The cauldron was comprised of 204 fiery copper petals, which were then gifted to each of the competing countries after the Closing Ceremony of the Games as a representation of global unity and friendship - part of the core ethos of the Olympics.

    Maggie's Centres are the creation of architect Charles Jencks, who sadly lost his wife Maggie to cancer in 1995. Maggie's belief that cancer sufferers shouldn't 'lose the joy of living in the fear of dying' and Charles' deep conviction of architecture's power to shape our life experiences led to a series of practical and beautifully-designed cancer care centres which are dedicated to empowering people to live with, through and beyond cancer. They bring together professional help, communities of support and exceptional building design to create centres of hope for cancer suffers and their families.
  8. Factories
    Colour plays an important role in creating accident-free, physically and visually sound interiors. The incorrect use of colours and patterns in interior and exterior environments can create visual impairments and cause serious accidents, but the correct use of colour for purposes of health and safety can greatly improve working conditions. For example, the change in colour of stairway railings, from an unpainted finish to bright yellow, can lead to an 18% decrease in accidents and the addition of highly visual pathways decreases the risk of accidents in warehouse with both vehicular and foot traffic.
  9. Career Change
    For some, a career in design can be, quite simply, life changing. Such is the case of garden designer and Chelsea medal winner, Matthew Childs. On 07 July 2005 Matthew was badly injured in the underground bombing at Edgware Road station. Despite the tragedy surrounding him, Matthew felt a great sense of hope when he was carried out of the underground and this continued to grow with the support he received throughout his recovery. Surviving such a horrific event made Matthew realise he had been given a precious second chance.

    He consequently left his job at an advertising agency in the City and decided to pursue his life-long passion of garden design. Since graduating from KLC, Matthew has gone from strength to strength, achieving gold and silver medals at the Hampton Court Flower Show in 2012 and 2013, and a Silver Gilt medal for his Brewins Dolphin garden at Chelsea in 2014.

    Photography courtesy of Lisa Cox and The Room Outside blog.