Designing to Help Others

Design can be an influence for change. I believe in the power of design to create innovative solutions, enhance the lives of others, and help the environment. Humanitarian projects and well-planned sustainable solutions can improve our communities and our world.

Interior designers and architects have the power to improve the lives of others. Beautiful, effective designs should be available to all people regardless of wealth, social class, or ability. Design has the potential to create change in the lives of many. By instituting local design solutions and involving the community, interior design has the potential to solve problems and enrich lives. Similarly, designers should respect the environment by creating sustainable solutions. Interior designers can alter the large amounts of waste that are produced during construction and through inefficient building systems.

As Cameron Sinclare, co-founder of Architecture for Humanity, said: “design is the ultimate renewable resource. Together we can continue to build a better future.” Interior designers have the ability to make a positive change in the world and improve the health, safety, and welfare of the public by embracing these ideals. I plan to be involved in design projects throughout my career that invigorate communities, combat issues like domestic violence and homelessness, and create positive, healing environments.

DESIGN INSPIRATION

In today's hectic world it's easy to become overwhelmed or distracted by the many things that demand our attention. Think of the last time you curled up with a nice hot cup of tea (or coffee) and a book on a rainy day. That scenario is one of my favorite things. I began drinking tea after my study abroad trip to London. Now when I make a cup of tea, it helps to inspire me and brings back wonderful memories from my trips abroad.

I often make a cup of tea while working on projects. Taking a short break can allow me to refuel and become inspired. I find inspiration in both large and small moments throughout my day. A stirring musical score, a chickadee eating birdseed, and the beautiful images of interiors on Pinterest are just a few things that have inspired me today. I love getting caught up in a design project as I strive to find the best solution. Yet, I have also learned that taking a short break every once in a while allows me to come back to my projects refreshed and with a new viewpoint.

To hear more about what inspires my designs please check out a short video I made. It can be found under the resume tab or by clicking this link: https://vimeo.com/katrinarutledge/designinspiration

Creating an Empowering Domestic Violence Shelter Design

I first became interested in helping women affected by domestic violence while serving as ASID student chapter president during my undergraduate career. One of the local domestic violence shelters approached our chapter about providing design advice for their shelter. So, I put together a team of students and we toured the shelter, talked with the staff members, and selected affordable finishes and provided design solutions that the shelter could implement over a period of time. Shortly after that I discovered that one of my good friends had been in an abusive relationship for two years. He had isolated her from her friends and family and we did not know her terrible situation. Hearing her stories made me angry and led me to wonder how I could help women affected by domestic violence.

These experiences led to my thesis project on domestic violence shelter design. The original research portion of my project has allowed me to interview multiple domestic violence shelter staff members and tour a shelter. Shelters are often created in existing spaces, usually old homes, and therefore are not always able to accommodate the users' needs. Even shelters that are built for domestic violence victims may not create an empowering environment. Domestic violence shelters can encourage empowerment by providing chances for personalization and identity formation in bedrooms, large community spaces, and classrooms or quiet spaces that encourage goal setting and decision-making. Abusers often control women, stealing their independence, self-esteem, and joy. The design of domestic violence shelters can nurture residents' sense of self, encourage new friendships, and inspire women as they begin anew.

For more information about domestic violence shelter design click on the M.F.A. Project link on the left of this page to see more renderings from this project.