Design that Advances Civilization: Observations from a Path Less Travelled

I continually seek collaboration with colleagues who are making a difference in design. It is why I joined ASID as a young interior designer, meeting thought leaders in the industry, giving up my weekends to be with the smartest colleagues who considered design’s impact. It is that curiosity that led me to The Center for Health Design and allowed me to find a playground of the best multi-disciplinary thinkers in that sector. An insatiable thirst to make a difference through design now has me committed to an evidence-based approach to launch innovation in the design of the built environment that is available to the masses. It is that alignment that has led my firm CAMA to MASS Design Group. Collectively we are intrigued with the opportunities that are at hand, reordering design priorities through the acceptance of new theories that are fueled by this evidence-based design methodology.

Rarely is the design of the built environment given a priority in change-management thinking. Timing is everything the biggest issues demanding our attention today are generally related to human survival. This uncomfortable feeling of change is a designer’s catalyst to ask the questions needed to inform innovative solutions. Thanks to the work of our academic colleagues their meta-analyses of existing data have established good baseline design principles. That baseline of knowledge will keep many shortsighted design teams from regressing but more importantly liberate the innovative teams with insightful freedom to explore design’s true impact on the human condition. Although we have a long way to go, what has been learned is enough to create a road map so that all who design our habitats can also advance a handful of these critical issues.

If design innovation can launch a civilization to a new plateau, i.e. accessible design of hand-held mobile devises, then what is our role as the architects of place/habitat? A more opportune time has not existed since the Renaissance, to quote an astute academic colleague Professor Renato Troncon, “between a methodology, EBD, and a philosophy, beauty, the perfection in nature that has contributed most to human survival, E. O. Wilson”. This is the thinking behind the design work that CAMA hopes to accomplish in our collaborative efforts with MASS Design Group and their Learning Lab. The premise behind our evidence-based approach to design, MASS’ South to North strategy, is to know which interventions will most improve the human experience. In order to improve these experiences we must first improve the most appropriate outcomes and then and only then will we create the places of well-being required for a balanced productive existence for all who come indoors.

Rosalyn Cama is President and Principal Interior Designer of CAMA, Inc. in New Haven, Connecticut. An interior planning and design firm steeped in evidence-base design, the firm’s mission is to create interior environments that improve outcomes. Roz has been a practicing healthcare designer for 30 years, and has worked on projects throughout the United States, including Yale-New Haven Hospital, Baystate Health System, Dublin Methodist Hospital of OhioHealth, The American Cancer Society and Hope Lodge and the University Medical Center at Princeton. A fellow of the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID), Roz has served as the chair of its Healthcare Specialty Network and is a past National President. She is also a recipient of many design and service awards. Roz is a frequent speaker about evidence-based healthcare design at meetings and conventions internationally. She has also written and published numerous articles on the subject. Her latest book publication is titled, “Evidence-Based Healthcare Design” (John Wiley & Sons in association with the American Society of Interior Designers, 2009).

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