Thursday, April 23, 2009

Interior Design done badly

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Just like my grammar and spelling, interior design can be done badly.

Typically, the general public thinks about interior design in terms of color and arranging furniture. Sure, that can be an important part of the game. But most important is whether the space is designed in a way that solves the problem, or answers the questions of the user. Is the space designed in response to the needs of the occupants?

Many of us have watched interior design shows on networks like HGTV. Honestly, much of that stuff drives me nuts, and here's a typical example of why:

The show was either design on a dime or trading spaces. I don't recall which. It was several years ago when I saw the episode. The scene that I remember is the reveal to the couple involved, showing their newly redesigned bedroom. I will tell you it looked cool. The old room was a mess, badly arranged in a way that definitely didn't address the needs of the couple. The redesign focused on creating a "couples only space." Why? Because the designer thought they needed some space from their infant child who also slept in their room. How was this accomplished (other than using the cliche red and black to create a romantic atmosphere)? By moving the baby's bassinet away from being a sidecar to the bed.

Dumb. Absolutely unresponsive to the needs of the parents and the child. The baby's bassinet is now across the room. I can almost guarantee that within a day, that baby's bassinet was right back where it started, on mom's side of the bed. Either the designer had no understanding of parenting, or was impervious to the fact that someone might parent differently.

Having a child sleep very near it's parents is typically not an issue of space. They could have easily put the baby in a different part of the room, or in another room entirely if that had been their desire. But they choose to have their baby along side the bed for their own reasons. Maybe the child is a troubled sleeper, and sleeps best near mom. Maybe mom breast feeds the baby, and finds it more restful to have her infant close by so she doesn't have to spend extra time getting up and going to another part of the house, contributing to less sleep.

So to all of my interior design friends out there - Don't make assumptions based on your own parenting style, or your opinions about how to parent (including where a child should sleep). Find out why a family function they way the do, and design around those needs.

Note: Although I'm not actively employed in interior design as a profession at this point in my life, interior and environmental design is my professional training, and I reserve the right to cringe at bad work.


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