How smart interiors can shape your journey

Get lost!

I always get lost in Debenhams. I’ve lived in Nottingham now for 30 years and to be fair, Debenhams’ layout hasn’t changed but I still get lost! I always used to get lost driving into Leicester too until I got my first satnav. In fact, we (Paul and I) had a pretty scary situation stopping to ask for directions once, but that’s another story!

We generally know our destination, it’s just how we get there and best to avoid any challenges en route!

How comfortable interiors influence experience

My old boss once referred to interior designers as ‘analytical creatures’. Now, I do know a few who can get all thigh-rubbing about a bit of data (myself included) but what we really analyse is people – people in space. We create environments where people want to be and that requires a deep understanding of how people respond to space (volume, mass, spatial connectivity, light, temperature, colour, texture, furniture, views, other people) and the intimate places we seek or create within it.

We know when all these factors coalesce successfully – we feel it. We want to stay, spend time, on our own, with friends, with family. We feel comfortable.

However, if we don’t know a place, there can be a real anxiety when we need to find it, a space within it or another location. How do we get there? Who can give me directions? Where are the signs telling me where to go? It can be unsettling, particularly if you’re on a deadline. Imagine how much more difficult it is if you have dyslexia or visual impairment or are very self-conscious? You need to get to where you want to be easily and without stress.

What is wayfinding?

Many of our interior design commissions in large buildings incorporate wayfinding strategies. Very simply, this could be colour coding different floors within a building or different department. But sometimes that isn’t relevant so you need to rely on simple, clear signage.

This makes me think of Debenhams again: stood at the foot of the escalator trying to locate the department I’m after and the floor it’s on. Then, when I get to the right floor I need to find the department. It’s like a maze: following a route to find it’s a dead-end, retracing my steps, trying another route and so on until I’ve lost any sense of orientation. And, when I eventually do find it, get what I need (or not), I need to find my way out!

Confetti connecting people with place  

Confetti’s new Digital Media Hub is a fantastic new facility for students at Nottingham Trent University (NTU). It has an architect, it has an interior designer and it has a graphic designer so we were appointed to develop a wayfinding strategy for the building. Now, it’s a rational, un-complex building but it links to two neighbouring buildings with their own features, constraints and opportunities and, with two other separate buildings, completes NTU’s Creative Quarter Campus. This also needs to link back to the main city campus too.

So, our thigh-rubbing ‘analytical creatures’ are developing a simple, rational wayfinding solution. We’re identifying ‘gateways’, ‘decision points’ and ‘destinations’, linked by well-structured pathways with good sightlines leading to ‘landmarks’ with a clear graphic identity.

Very simply we’re connecting people with place in a dynamic integration of brand, identity and information to shape positive human experiences and create places where people want to be.

Sara Harraway, Director