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Cover story


Fine design: Stop, collaborate and listen


Interior designer Jacqui Smith, co-director of Sussex-based practice HomeSmiths, outlines the importance of collaboration in achieving successful care home design


When it comes to the design of environments for older people, residents benefit hugely from designers who share and collaborate. I have always subscribed to the view collaboration is so much better than competition and I genuinely feel that in care home design, there is no room for ego. If a design concept effects a positive


change in the wellbeing of a resident, why wouldn’t you want to share it? At the end of the day, care home design is about creating supportive and engaging environments for people in which to live and build communities. In my experience, the best projects


are those which encourage a collaborative approach. A designer who fully understands the vision of the operator, the challenges they are facing and of course crucially, the sensory and cognitive needs of the residents and how the built environment can support them, will be able to add value right across the project. Designers are often brought into the


process to take care of the FF&E side of things by which time decisions may have been made on finishes and so forth, but the earlier in the project process an


interior designer is brought on board, the better. Many years ago I remember reading a piece by world famous interior designer, Nina Campbell, who declared that interior designers should be a “reassuring rather than a bossy presence”. So true. At the time it resonated with


me and has stayed with me. Care home design is a specialist area of commercial design where my overriding aim is to work with, inform and support my clients and the wider project team, never to take over. Collaboration does, of course, go


much wider than the immediate project team. I love nothing more than working in partnership with specialist designers and manufacturers, producing something unique, which absolutely meets the needs of the residents and those caring for them. We commissioned wallpaper designer


Elizabeth Ockford to work with us last year. I have known Elizabeth for a number of years. We live in the same village so it was inevitable that our creative paths would cross at some point and indeed, people who know us both have often declared, “You two should


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work together!” And now we have, and it was fantastic. As an incredibly talented fine artist,


Elizabeth has created numerous wallpaper collections, many of which we have used in the past for our residential, show home and care home projects. While the team at Elizabeth Ockford design their own collections, they also take on commissions and can recolour designs, as well as enhance or remove certain design details to meet the brief. When we were appointed by Hallmark


Care Homes to design Henley Manor, we knew that Elizabeth would be able to help. Of the many wallcoverings which Elizabeth produced for us, my favourite is the Baxter, shown here in one of the corridors in the nursing community. While I love the original design,


inspired by botanical illustrations from the 19th century University of Oxford’s curator William Baxter, we felt that the shadowed and overlaid text might be confusing for a resident living with a degree of cognitive decline. Elizabeth removed the script, resulting in a fresh and eye-catching design that sits perfectly with the Oxfordshire gardens theme of this part of the corridor. From one talented artist to another: Beth Lewin at Bespoke by Evans. Back in


10 www.thecarehomeenvironment.com• June 2020


DIGITAL ENVIRONMENT


homecare www.thecarehomeenvironment.com l June 2020


THE


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