Welcome back to the Agati Video Podcast, a space where Joe Agati, COO & Director of Design here at Agati Furniture, hosts conversations with designers, architects, and difference-makers to bring inspiration and education to your work.
“We don’t know what children are coming into these spaces with. We need to create environments where they feel safe.” – Jill Seitz
For today’s episode of the podcast, I had the opportunity to talk with Jill Seitz, a Senior Interior Designer at Moody Nolan, the largest African American owned design firm in the country with more than 330 employees and 12 office locations across the U.S. Jill has been there over 30 years and has a wide variety of experience and insight to bring to our conversation today.
In our conversation, we discussed how the passion for interior design started when Jill was just ten years old, how her role has changed over the years at Moody Nolan (she now focuses solely on furniture, which we think is pretty great!), trends she’s been seeing in K-12 and Higher Education spaces to increase connection, and so much more.
This was a great conversation. Check it out!
- “We’re researching needs and we want to find the common denominators that are crucial to address.”
- “You want the input of the users since they are the ones who will be using the space.”
- “After COVID-19, we now have some students coming into schools who have never been in a school before or are afraid.”
- “The big trend now is creating the spaces that not only create a sense of community for students, but we need to provide flexibility for instructors to adapt to what they’re faced with.”
- “We don’t know what children are coming into these spaces with. We need to create environments where they feel safe.”
- “You often don’t want the teacher’s desk to be the biggest thing in a room. You want students to feel like they have power and autonomy, too.”
- “We may not be saving lives, but we are impacting lives. Design matters.”
Our Key Takeaways:
1) A large part of fostering a feeling of safety are furniture and space design. Jill mentioned that they have done a lot of garage-door-style classroom designs recently that allow for a space to open and flow out into a larger environment if necessary, which holds value for collaboration and mental health. Additionally, they have chosen specific furniture that allow students to experience that feeling of refuge without separating from the rest of the class.
2) Design decisions have to support the goals for the facility itself. Jill provided a great example about a school trying to support students’ mental health by ensuring that teachers and students are not “separated” through the design of the space. At the same time, the furniture decisions for the teachers’ offices were very simple in an effort to support the perspective that they didn’t want teachers spending a lot of time in their offices, but instead wanted them out with students.
3) Design matters. At the end of our conversation, Jill shared, “We may not be saving lives, but we are impacting lives.” We loved that quote! Through design, we have the opportunity to impact lives, lower stress, increase productivity, support community, and so much more.
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