Transcending Global, Cultural and Disciplinary Boundaries: The Evolving Role of Interior Design

By Nadia V. Volchansky and Catherine Anderson.

Published by The Design Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

As a by-product of increased globalization, collaboration between disciplines is cultivating a generation of new, innovative solutions to existing cultural and social challenges. While stronger bonds between related professions are emerging, the body of knowledge of all involved begins to collectively strengthen with the exchange of specialized information. With this, the traditionally accepted role of the design profession is evolving, developing a deeper sense of global community, ethical and civic responsibility. This presentation demonstrates this shift through the examination of an interior design studio project, designed to respond to an acute need for healthcare delivery in Haiti. Collaborating with professionals from various industries and sectors (architecture, design, medical, political), eighteen interior design students unveiled a schematic design proposal for a sustainable, cost-efficient model of a women’s clinic and education center. Relying on available research and established contacts with the Haitian community, students developed a thorough understanding of the Haitian culture, ensuring that their design sensitively responds to the context of myriad local needs and constraints. This studio project allowed students to generate a creative yet pragmatic solution to a serious social challenge through productive interaction, guidance and assistance of the local professional community. Even though this initiative is continuing to develop, it is recognized as a model that may potentially extend to communities that are otherwise difficult to reach. Through active participation, students gained awareness of the designer’s role and responsibility and the impact they can have on the global community.

Keywords: Interior Design, Interdisciplinary Collaboration, Service Learning, Design as Activism, Global Community, Sustaining the Environment, Haiti, Studio Project

Design Principles and Practices: An International Journal, Volume 4, Issue 4, pp.81-92. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 610.485KB).

Prof. Nadia V. Volchansky

Assistant Professor, Interior Design Program, The George Washington University, Washington, DC, USA

Through employment at various architecture firms, including Callison Architecture (Seattle, WA), Nadia has participated in the design of multiple corporate, hospitality, retail, higher education and residential projects, with experience spanning from concept development to project management and design implementation. Her experience centers on the healthcare market, culminating with a completion of her thesis research on patient-centered healing environments. With strong commitment to social responsibility and service learning, Nadia became LEED accredited in 2006 and chose to continue her design career through academic appointments at the Department of Interior Architecture at University of North Carolina, Greensboro and currently at The George Washington University, Washington DC. She is presently directing a collaborative endeavor focused on the development of a sustainable, community-based medical facility in Haiti.

Prof. Catherine Anderson

Assistant Professor, Interior Design Program, The George Washington University, Washington, DC, USA

Prior to her position as an assistant professor at the George Washington University Interior Design Program in Washington DC, Catherine worked as a project manager in a variety of architecture and interior design firms for over 14 years. Her primary practice experience was on commercial projects for a wide range of clients such as law firms, non-for-profits, associations, embassies as well as large-scale urban design developments. She earned a BS in Architecture and a MArch that included study abroad in Rome and Koper, Slovenia. A LEED accredited professional, her teaching focus is on sustainable interiors and urbanism as well as the design process for first-year students and capstone graduate students.


There are currently no reviews of this product.

Write a Review