Through a happy and unexpected turn of events, I arrived in the UK for the London Design Festival, 2015. This all came about by winning a competition sponsored by Warwick Fabrics. In a monumental week, I attended four trade shows in three days, a trade show party and whole swathe of events that form the best design event in the world.
So, one of the highlights was this - an opportunity to meet the highly regarded designer, academic and author, Isle Crawford. Described as Britain’s most influential woman within the design industry, Isle Crawford has crossed over many creative disciplines while staying true to her core beliefs.
Isle opens 100% Design, sharing her vast skyline of ideas. They are simple. When Isle designs, she starts with the human experience, prioritising well-being. By addressing changing times and values, her mission is to promote good, sensible design and its power to improve the way we work and live.
Isle takes current social academic research and translates through the ergonomics of her designs to humanise the experience. For example, a tablet is one object that most of us own. How do we sit when we hold this? We sit sideways or diagonally on chairs. How do we re-adjust our seating to adapt and be comfortable?
“For us, interior design is about so much more than choosing furniture, and it is our mission to change this perception. Good interior design is always more than the way things look (although that is certainly an important part of the toolkit). It is about making sure the human experience is prioritized when we build. It is about human happiness and well -being. It is about making life better. After all, inside buildings is where we live.”
Isle took us through the journeys of three recent projects, the 1st class airport lounge for Cathay Pacific. A range for Ikea with tactility and zero waste at the forefront and Isle’s new studio – made to be homely.
The whole mentality surrounding the design of airport lounges have changed for the better. Isle has broken down the clichés regarding food buffets, beverages, clinical bathrooms and seating. All senses have been considered carefully. Working closely with Cathay Pacific, Isle asked challenging questions. Why can’t food be made to order and nourishing? (It turns out that it doesn’t cost much more to provide this service.) Do people really want to drink alcohol before a long flight? Why not provide hydrating drink alternatives? Is there a place to rest and re-charge? What about a place to ‘plug-in’ comfortably?
“Historically the idea of feeling at home, of creating intimate space, was left to the individual. Architecture and design rarely paid much attention to it. Now this sensibility is moving into the public domain. Today we can and should be able to feel at home anywhere; in an airport lounge, a hotel, a bus, at work or in a bar. Designing spaces and buildings from the inside out is the future. We want our public space to feel more human, more habitable and the main challenge for the interior designer is to counteract the alienation and institutionalization that tends to go with the territory.”
At Q & A, Ms Crawford answered the ‘What next?’ question. “Building, by confronting the different typologies of a building and approaching in a different way”. Well said!
“A well-being designer is able to see things and see places - experiences that need change, then design with a cool head and warm heart – that is, combining reason with empathy”.
Hearing Isle's talk rang true in my heart, with full admiration. We are from the same tribe. Following a deep breath, I approached Isle and thanked her for being such an influential person, and humanising interior design, both professionally and holistically.
Photo credit goes to: (in order) studioisle.com, notey.com, austbt.com.au,