Interdisciplinary design helps solve complex design problems by bringing together various players in the built environment and other disciplines to create designs for the total human experience (see “A Beautiful Symphony,” page 26, in the Winter 2015 issue of ICON). Another approach to interdisciplinary design is taking lessons learned from one design sector and applying them to another, which allows us to broaden the impact of design and research while also leading to innovation. For example, healthcare designers have used design strategies from hospitality to make spaces, programs, and processes that are more comfortable and welcoming for patients and families. More recently, healthcare designers are looking at workplace design for inspiration, which was reflected in presentations by the ASID Foundation’s Transform Grant awardees at the 2015 Healthcare Design conference. Below are some insights shared by the two presenting research teams.
HEALTH AND WELL-BEING DRIVERS
A 2014 Transform Grant recipient, Key Performance Indicators of Knowledge Workplace Design: Promoting Knowledge Workplace Innovation Performance and Economic Competitiveness was led by Young Lee, PhD, LEED AP, NCIDQ, ASID, from the Innovative Workplace Institute (formerly with Michigan State University), in collaboration with HOK and Fordham University. The team completed a research project that developed an online assessment tool to identify key performance indicators of the physical work environment for employee creativity, health, and well-being. Among the research team’s insights: “An important caution is to avoid a literal adoption from one to the other, and to pay attention to the unique situations that different sectors hold.” When preparing for this presentation, Lee first looked at the core commonalities between workplace and healthcare and discovered that design strategies promoting health and well-being were critical to the success of both places. She then identified which health and well-being design/spatial considerations from the knowledge workplace design could be applied to the spaces used by people in healthcare settings. Learn more about this research by watching the research team’s webinar, “Comprehensive Workspace Performance Analytics for the Knowledge Workplace,” on ASID Academy.
Led by Elizabeth Garland, MD, MS, from the Department of Preventive Medicine at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, in collaboration with the Center for Active Design, Steelcase, and Perkins+Will, Stand Up to Work—a 2015 Transform Grant recipient—is an ongoing applied research project focused on the health benefits of minimizing sedentary behavior through the use of adjustable workstations in an actual workplace environment. The research team’s insight: “Understanding the principles and insights that translate across sectors and differentiate the application of these based on the environment, and understanding the audience and what is important to them should be considered when sharing research.” Acknowledging the difference in designing movement within an office and a healthcare clinic, the researchers suggest that user-controlled, height-adjustable tables and designated walking paths would be appropriate in offices, whereas casework built at standing height and stools that allow individuals to sit/perch at the elevated height may work in clinical settings to increase movement throughout the day for a wide spectrum of benefits to an individual’s well-being.
TRANSLATING RESEARCH FOR DESIGN COMPETITIVENESS
As we develop a knowledge-based economy, there’s more demand for research to inform our decisions, as with evidence-based design. Change is happening so quickly in workplaces and other spaces that researchers have a hard time keeping up. Our profession benefits from collaborating with different disciplines, as well as within interior design, to arrive at creative solutions. Some guidelines for designers interested in interdisciplinary research include:
- Actively share research and design. Make your research and design available and carefully consider how and where it is shared to maximize connectivity.
- Critically understand the context and subject. Know the parameters and characteristics of both design sectors for effective cross-pollination.
- Creatively discuss the implications. Coax sparks for innovation by collaborating with each other.
About the Author
Susan Chung, Ph.D., is the research analyst at the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) where she connects design and research for improving human experiences in the interior environment. Valuing the needs of design practitioners, her work at ASID translates research on interior design issues and trends into applicable design implications, and directs projects that investigates positive impact on human experiences. She also devotes her summer time teaching students at Cornell University on how design is interconnected with our daily lives and how they can make a difference in this world through design. With a background in both interior design and organizational behavior research from her doctorate degree in Human Behavior and Design at Cornell University, she has a particular passion in how design attributes are related to creative performance in workplace environments.