Monday, June 5, 2023

Interior designer Lori Bell provides lecture on importance of design in healing environments at Oaklands Mansion


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Photo by Wendy Anderson / Contributing Writer

Story by Sabrina Tyson and Wendy Anderson / Contributing Writers

On Tuesday evening, the Middle Tennessee State University Student Chapter of the American Society of Interior Designers and the MTSU International Interior Design Association Campus Center held a lecture, in which Lori Bell, an interior designer for EOA Architects in Nashville, spoke to members of ASID, IIDA and MTSU interior design students about the importance of design in healthcare and healing environments. The main sponsors of the event were Signature Solutions, MT Engage and the Oaklands Mansion, which was where the event was held.

Bell, an MTSU alumna, spoke to the attendees about the importance of understanding how different design aspects can alter the emotions of people living or working in the spaces designers create. Each and every space is different so each and every design should be unique. Whether it’s a bathroom with custom shower doors or a hallway with one-of-a-kind artwork, each design should channel the emotions of the room and the people using it. For this reason, Interior Design is seen as a way to improve their daily lives’, health and well-being, with many looking to services similar to JN Interior Designs to help improve their living space. Bell seems to be no different stating that her success in design is due to her philanthropic work, explaining that empathy is one of the biggest factors in her design.

Bell first became involved with volunteer work back in 2008.

“It was amazing how that experience allowed me to really start changing how I designed, ” Bell said, referring to her time spent in Ireland on a mission trip.

“I was working with a man who was addicted to heroin,” Bell said. “He was so discombobulated in life. He was having such a hard time existing in this space. He couldn’t think. He couldn’t focus. He couldn’t start healing.”

She said it was during this time that she really understood the impact of empathizing with who she is designing for in her work.

Some of the main points Bell made were how color, art, texture, and other aspects of design can impact the thoughts of people in certain spaces. The difference between red and blue walls or abstract and lifelike art, or even various wall stickers that could depict different things, can make all the difference in a healing environment, such as a psychiatric hospital or a halfway home.

She further explained how the processes of the mind connect with design.

“(It is) learning about the mind and how you actually walk into a space and how you perceive that space–how it travels through your brain from unconscious to conscious (and) then how it permeates into your body,” Bell said. “Once you start realizing that aspect of it, (you realize) how important it is what we do,” Bell said.

Gwen Sandlin, an MTSU alumna who was at the event representing her employer, Signature Solutions, said that she saw first-hand how important the points that Bell were speaking about were in her own experience in designing for healthcare.

“It’s about helping people heal faster,” Sandlin said. “What you do in a healing environment is a lot more than what meets the eye.”

ASID and IIDA memberships are available for students of the MTSU interior design program who pay the membership dues, which vary based on which division the students want to join. There are memberships that are for just the MTSU division and national options. Jessica Gary, the president of the MTSU ASID chapter, said that the membership can be a great benefit to interior design students and offers a community to talk about design.

“We talk about the common interest of design,” Gary said.

Membership can include benefits such as discounted tickets to events like the Parade of Homes, which is an annual showcase of new building and design ideas, as well as design seminars.

To contact News Editor Andrew Wigdor, email

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