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Universal Design Conversations

"Boho, minimalist, maximalist, traditional, transitional, modern, farmhouse, coastal, eclectic, chic, rustic, formal." ...Oh my! These are buzzwords you might hear people use when describing design style, but they don't always translate into helpful design conversations. Translating these descriptors can be misconstrued if the conversation (both verbal and visual) isn't thoroughly discussed. As a designer, these conversations are easy to navigate, but for a client who has never considered it, this can be daunting.

A home office by Sunrise Vintage that functions for work and supports focus and inspiration.

A space must perform functionally for the people who will be using it. If the occupants cannot easily perform their tasks in the environment, the design might be considered a flop. What is beauty without functionality? The answer, is art. (Which I can appreciate, however most of us don't live in museums!) Therefore, the first universal conversation in design is functionality. It does not have emotion tied to it; it has a checklist of simple facts.

The second universal design conversation is all about emotion. How do we want a space to make us feel while we are using it? Does the environment evoke calmness, or does it inspire energy? Is it playful, or serious? Should it encourage formality, or a sort of laid-back cool? These descriptors are what set the mood. They can be interpreted with selection of artwork, lighting, art, and decor. This involves curating palettes of color, pattern, form, and texture. We suggest for clients to use simple emotional adjectives to help steer this direction.

The final design conversation to explore is the idea of purpose and permanency versus purpose and flexibility. Design is highly personal and unique to us all. Some of us might start a project and make decisions that we won't change for a decade while others might be a little more experimental with space and expect their settings to evolve more frequently. Understanding a client's outlook on permanency helps designers provide insights for a more informed creative strategy.

Language allows us to express ourselves and connect with others. Design conversations that are had with a simpler, more everyday language, will translate beautifully into your built environment. Next time you assess a space, ask yourself questions about how it's functioning for you, what emotional response you have to it, and how you consider its permanency. If your needs no longer align with your answers, it might be to consider having a conversation with a design professional who can help you get to where you'd like to be.



Currently listening to: "Catholic Country" - Kings of Convenience featuring Feist

Currently watching: For the Love of Kitchens

Currently inspired by: Springtime color palettes with bright pops of green on neutral backdrops


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