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  • Writer's pictureHayley Roy

Neurodivergent Interior Design

There is a lot of chat in the media about the neurodiverse landscape at the moment. Scarlett and I at Harp Design are both in the neurodivergent camp, as well as many other designers that I have worked with over the years, so it's a little bit close to my heart! Therefore I'd like to share with you what it's all about and how you can design your interior to accomodate the neurodivergent community.


What is Neurodiversity?


Neurodiversity recognises and celebrates the natural variation in human ways of thinking. It is estimated that about 15% of people, or 1 in 7 employees, in the UK are neurodiverse. Judy Singer, a sociologist with autism, began using “ neurodiversity ” in the latter part of the 1990s. It refers to the belief that certain developmental disorders are normal variations in the brain. Such disabilities such as, but are not limited to - autism spectrum disorder, dispraxia, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, social anxiety disorder, and dyslexia. People who have these features also have particular strengths. When it comes to the workplace, a study of 990 neurodivergent employees and 127 employers found that 65% of people didn ’t want to tell their employer about being neurodiverse for fear of discrimination and 69% of employers said that this lack of disclosure made it difficult for them to make reasonable adjustments. This tells us that the landscape has to change, as a society, we are currently undergoing a massive shift in thinking where these conditions are becoming more understood and accepted than ever before.




There are many neurological disorders, for the purpose of this blog I have decided to focus on two of the most well known, ADHD & Autism.




ADHD - Individuals with ADHD are lacking in dopamene - they often seek thrillls, take take risks and have impulsive behaviour, they like dramatic interiors when they need dopamene hit! However when hyperfocus wears off they need a calm tranquil space to calm down and regroup with some order.




Autism - People with Autism like order and they often get anxious about social situations. When we design for Autism we need to think of a grid to lay furniture in with clear boundaries. Rounded corners on furniture for safety and calming . Autistic people are often introvert, they like nooks and to be cocooned, an area for private secluded area and alone time is key to help sooth and calm. Individuals with autism are extremely sensitive to sound and touch.




So how does that translate into Interior Design......



Acoustics – Better insulating the workspace with different types of acoustic products allows manipulation of sound pressure levels. Calm zones should be created. Lighting – Light and color affect our moods, cognitive thinking, and behavior. By adding soft colors and earth tones while utilizing natural lighting, one can improve a sense of wellbeing and promotes productivity.



Spatial configuration – Spaces that are more organized and more defined help the autistic and ADHD mind process. Storage for non-essential items, subdividing walls or rooms, and the ability to reconfigure space allow the autistic mind to focus better. Provide a variety of spatial characters for team members to choose from.



Materials – Extreme patterns, overwhelming colors, and visual clutter can create a high degree of sensory stimulation leading to overload. Utilizing organic patterns, colors, and natural elements (plants, water, and light) can relieve people.



Wayfinding - Navigating spaces can be a challenge for the neurodivengent and they are less likely than a neurotypical to ask for help. Spaces should be easy to navigate through so that the person using the space can easily find their way around with out asking.


If you need further assistance in this area and what to speak to a professional, we'd love to help you :-) email me on hayley.roy@harpdesign.co.uk.


Hayley Roy DIPMAN Owner and Designer at Harp Design





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