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Why are user profiles important within interior design?

Understanding the impacts on occupants’ wellbeing is important and part of the clarity sought on what works and what does not in an existing or proposed space.

As designers, getting to know who the design is catering for is half of the equation towards achieving a design that supports wellbeing. So during design brief and concept stages we want to look at and analyse all aspects of the user and the space.

To ensure harmony exists between the space and the occupants, all project members need the measurements and preferences of the occupants, so that they will intelligently deliver all the features that will meet user comfort and then allow them to flourish. We can start building user profiles through occupant interviews during the project brief and concept stages; User profiles will reflect the typical needs, preferences and overall use of interior spaces.

The user profile will direct the way a project is briefed and how a design is informed, placing the users and the operation at the centre. Putting this information into our day-to-day design practice can improve the way occupiers are understood, inform how the design team obtains the information they need, and make sure design characteristics and issues support user wellbeing.

How do we as designers align ourselves with the user we are designing for?

Empathy helps us understand users’ feelings; it starts us off by making us understand how they use their current space and enables us to see what they see, feel what they feel and act as they are led to. The most important element of a user profile is that it recognises and references the physical, emotional, and cognitive needs of occupants. What method is chosen to understand and elaborate within each part is very much down to the team’s ability and specialist approach.

Below is an example of one of the user profiles we created as part of a project for the University of Helsinki.

As you can see, we go into detail looking at the activities they undertake day-to-day, their design and colour harmonies to needs, and their drivers and attitudes.

If you are a designer who would like to learn more about User Profiles, how to create such a key tool of the design process and the role they can play in your designs, take a look at our Design for Wellbeing courses on the Grigoriou Education website here: sustainabilitycourses.grigoriou.co.uk/pages/designforwellbeing

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