December 11, 2013
by Adelia Schleusz


Behavior analysis ultimately aims to explain behavior in terms of external events that can be manipulated rather than internal constructs that are beyond our control. How does this translate into our approach as designers and why do we care? Taking a more comprehensive human approach is no novel concept in the field, but our profession and basis of design has become even more science-based driven by what seems to be leaps and bounds in only the past couple of decades. We continue to utilize more and more our research community, background and resources in which to base our design. Healthcare interior designers who tend to have and strive for that “just right” balance of the right brain, left brain phenomenon, not only find this concept invigorating but well overdue.

Many work processes of healthcare practitioners have evolved not only as a result of industry practices but in response to individual professional preferences. Far too often, administrators and providers have fallen into a trap of doing things simply because they have always been done that way. The human element of design, on the other hand, addresses the human strengths and weaknesses for the future solution for a successful design of any space.

Where human performance is less than reliable, there is emphasis on avoiding dependency on the aspects of error by the human element and bringing clarity to these confusing processes. What does this mean? Simply put, the human element works as a system and therefore like any system, needs a balance.  Our internal controls have evolved as well as how our human system responds to our environments physically, visually, cognitively and both behaviorally on a micro level (individual psyche) and on a macro level (socioeconomic drive). We often times implement several aspects of behavior analysis throughout our design processes without even knowing. Not in any effort to merge the two very distinct paths but to capitalize and celebrate the many commonalities between the two in order to produce the aforementioned “all inclusive” approach. Again, there needs to be a balance. Where there are challenges in our design processes, there are white papers, evidence-based design resources and our very own research community within a short arms reach. It is quite the reward when we challenge ourselves to produce cutting edge and innovative design to only have a wealth of validity backing our design concept and final outcome.

Among the many expectations and roles we play, it is our responsibility as Interior Designers to understand and stay current with not only trends in design but trends within the human element.