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Leading experts discuss future of design at RIBA

Leading experts discuss future of design at RIBA

An audience of more than 90 specifiers, architects and design professionals attended the event to launch our Dulux Trade ColourFutures ™ 2019 palettes and explore initiatives that put occupants at the heart of any design brief.

A debate, chaired by Marianne Shillingford, Creative Director at Dulux, was discussed amongst a panel of leading experts. Ted Szuman, Head of Innovation at Dulux Trade was joined on the panel by Rosemary Jenssen from Jenssen Architecture Ltd representing the ProCure 22 Framework; Louise Tod, Independent Colourist and Creative Director; Jim Ashley-Down, Managing Director at Waldmann Lighting and Flavie Lowres, Associate Director at the Building Research Establishment (BRE).

The discussion focused on the major changes that the experts believe we will see in design in the coming years, with colour and its impact on occupants being a central theme.

Louise Tod introduced our ColourFutures ™ 2019 palettes, Think, Act, Dream and Love, articulating how they all draw on knowledge and research to allow specifiers and architects to create schemes that promote enhanced occupant outcomes in a range of sectors from education to workplaces.

The speakers all agreed with Louise that there is a need to understand how particular elements of the built environment impact upon the subjective wellbeing of the users and to incorporate this into the design of the built environment at the outset of a project.

The increase in focus on wellbeing was a popular discussion point amongst the speakers, with an agreement that wellbeing is becoming what sustainability was 25 years ago.

Ted Szuman said: "As a business, AkzoNobel thinks globally, but acts locally and I think that this trend will only become more prominent, with a big shift from group design to considering individual outcomes."

The experts addressed the growing presence of WELL and other industry standards driving the health and wellbeing agenda within the design sector, highlighting the effects their industries will see over the next five to ten years.

Jim Ashley-Down explained: "Occupants will predominantly see positive effects of guidance such as WELL coming into play as design begins to consider occupant outcomes from the outset."

However he raised a concern that the UK currently has no recognised standard for wellbeing design, and called on the industry as a whole to agree on a template for how to design spaces to aid wellbeing.

Biophilic design, bringing occupants back into contact with nature, was also a big topic of discussion for the panel. Flavie Lowres of BRE highlighted that stress related illness will be the biggest reason for absence by 2020 and how design can help to combat this by narrowing the disconnect between massive city populations and nature by incorporating biophilic elements in design.

Lowres then shared insight from the BRE Biophilic Office project, a first-of-its-kind study which will see an entire floor of a working office building at BRE - and the 40 people occupying that space - undergo wide-ranging testing and monitoring to understand the impact of a biophilic refurbishment. The experiment is currently underway with partners including Dulux Trade.

Ted Szuman added; "Take a zoo for example; zoos are the prime example of the built environment mimicking the natural world. This is the way design is developing, through biophilic principles we are seeing working spaces adjusting to mimic the natural world."

With Flavie Lowres continuing; "Task led design is crucial too, the specific tasks occupants undertake in each space is a very important factor for specifiers and architects when considering the design of workplace environments."

Following a forty-five minute discussion, attendees were then invited to pose questions, raising their concerns around rapid advances within technology and their impact on design.

The panel unanimously concluded that technology improvements only helped to strengthen the impact of colour and design, allowing greater measurement of the impact of colour on occupants.

The morning culminated in a keynote address, with Rosemary Jenssen emphasising that in the healthcare sector it is crucial for design to be focused on operational outcomes, highlighting the example of Chase Farm Hospital, which incorporates useful way-finding features such as patient, visitor and staff doors being different colours.

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