I had the good fortune to have a conversation with Pam Light, FIIDA, Sr. VP and Interior Design leader at HOK recently about her history with IIDA and the design community. Winner of last year’s Calibre Circle of Excellence Award, Pam was recognized for her long commitment and service to the industry; her respect for people at all levels of her clients’ organizations as well as her own colleagues; and of course, the quality of her work.
Pam describes the current understanding of design expertise as being separated into segments, or “buckets” which are often labeled names such as: healthcare, science & technology, entertainment, corporate, education, etc. While specific knowledge of the project type is extremely important in each of these areas, she prefers to think of them holistically, looking at each project with what she calls “the human experience”. “You want the appropriate experience wherever you go, you want the space to emote an emotional response from the person entering it”. An idea she surprisingly found validated by famed film director Sydney Pollack. Mr. Pollack spoke at one of IIDA’s Leaders seminars in NY – and said he “tried in his films to infuse the same ‘emotional’ response in his movies that interior designers are able to extend to their clients when they enter their spaces”.
It is this ideal that Pam infuses into her design practice. A case in point is the Cedars-Sinai Advanced Health Sciences Pavilion, a project that won her design team, led by her partner Clay Pendergrast, a Calibre Award. Her goal for that particular project was to help people have a comforting experience when visiting a health facility; integrating support for patients through thoughtful planning, graphics, intuitive way-finding, color, floors with a hotel-like feeling, etc – down to of course functional design including anti-baterial products; all designed to come together to help to reduce patient anxiety and stress. Citing a study by Dr. Paul Zak, Pam agrees that there is power in shaping the experience people have wherever they go: “a holistic feeling that we can now more thoroughly understand and validate though studies in environmental psychology, cultural competency, and health & wellness.
Susan Zale, Ind. IIDA