This week was beneficial to me and my growing process in the field of interior design because the importance of empathic design is something emphasized on often in our classes. As an interior designer, it is important that we understand how each individual will use a space and interact with that space. There is no better way to design for the most diverse population possible than my stepping into the shoes of our users and this is what empathic design is all about. In class, we discussed the difference between market driven design and empathic design. Market driven design is all about focusing on the trends in aesthetics and function, while also paying attention to price. On the other hand, empathic design is focused on the needs and experiences of the users who will be involved in the design. Paul Bennett is one individual who appreciates the importance of empathic design and realizes that design these days tend to overlooking very common universal problems. He discusses the importance of bringing the consumers into the process of creating products and how small is the new big. He proves one point by simply showing a video of a hospital ceiling. A health care client asked him to describe their patient experience. He explained how many people would create diagrams and charts to try and illustrate the experience of the patients. However, a video that illustrates what the patients physically see themselves is the most powerful way to explain their experience. Paul teaches us that stepping into the shoes of the user is the best way to understand how they are interacting with a space and better understand what changes need to be made to make users as comfortable as possible.
Speaking about empathic design in interior design, our studio class actually asked us to step into the shoes of users that we will be designing for on a daily basis. As an interior designer, our goal is to create spaces that are universal meaning, every individual can walk into that space and use it efficiently and be comfortable. With that being said, we have to focus on those who are disabled. We were asked to rent out a wheelchair and wheel around with is for one day and see what challenges we face in society. After doing so, I now realize just how difficult it is to complete daily tasks when you are forced to be in a wheelchair. If I were to design a store in which I kept in mind the needs of the disabled, I would make sure of a couple of things. For one, I would make the space very open so easy mobility is made possible for both those on their feet and those in wheelchairs and walkers. Along with this, I would also make the flooring even so there is not difficult wheeling the chairs across the space. Lastly, it is important that countertops and all products in a store are in clear sight of those who are lower to the ground. After having the opportunity to be in the shoes of those who are disabled, I now am able to appreciate empathic design much more than before and will make sure to use these lessons in my future as an interior designer.
Speaking about lessons that I will be able to use in the future, the business canvas model that we completed in class was something that was beneficial to my growth as an interior designer. In our field, working with others and on a time crunch is something that is expected on a daily basis. With that being said, this activity we completed with our learning communities taught me how to combine unique ideas given by others and use them all to create one complete and efficient solution. Most fields now a day require that you work with others and brainstorm together and this class has given us many opportunities to work with others in solving problems. This model is very realistic because it forces you to think before you act. It asks you to think about all aspects of a business and make sure that everything is laid out right in front of you. While asking you to have everything laid out, it also allows you to think of problems that can be faced in the beginning rather than being faced with them later on down the road.