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Interior design has evolved significantly over the years. From something that dealt only with the essentials of a structure and focused on its aesthetics, it has become more comprehensive – rather more inclusive! But what is inclusive interior design? As an aspirant or an interior designer student, exploring these contemporary concepts can help you prosper as a professional. So, INIFD, one of the leading interior design colleges in Mumbai delves into the vital aspects associated with inclusive interior design.

What is Inclusive Design?

Inclusive design involves designing an environment accessible to everyone, regardless of their age, physical abilities, gender, education, religion, language, emotional health, ethnicity, income, etc. It involves an inclusive environment not merely relevant to buildings but one that applies to surrounding open spaces.

The inclusive design considers the diversity and uniqueness of every individual, who’d be the potential user of the space. Thus, creating an inclusive design requires interior professionals to involve potential users, including disabled people, across all stages of the design process, from conceptualization to completion.

Understanding User Diversity

User diversity is an essential factor driving the utility of an inclusive design. Each user set or group comes with a unique requirement. For instance, people with some kind of disability, would require certain arrangements that help them move efficiently, safely and with the feeling of inclusiveness. Similarly, seniors should have adequate amenities enabling them to relax and use the space without stressing themselves.

These are only a couple of examples. One can think of many other examples concerning inclusive design. Rather, as an interior designer in the making, you should think along the lines of inclusiveness to become an interior designer who values individual differences.

The concept of inclusive designs is usually used in the public domain like malls, hospitals, educational institutions, etc. However, based on the client’s needs and the kind of foot traffic they receive, one can incorporate the elements of inclusive design in residential or private spaces as well. Inclusive design fundamentally understands and respects user diversity and endeavours to create as human-friendly and empathetic spaces as possible.

Comparison with ‘Universal design’

Now, there’s another concept called universal design. So, what is it? To many, it may appear similar to inclusive design and there are chances that they may use these terms interchangeably. Of course, doing that isn’t right but it is understood due to similarities between the words inclusive and universal. But universal design is completely different!

So, what is universal design and how is it different from inclusive design? We’ve already seen what inclusive design is. Reiterating, in the interior design or architectural context, it is design spaces meant for everyone, irrespective of their economic status, caste, religion, skin colour, race, ethnicity, gender, etc. But on the other hand, universal design involves creating one design for users with the broadest range of abilities and in the most diverse range of situations possible.

Again, does it still sound similar? But it isn’t. Inclusive design is a much more evolved form of universal design. Inclusive design is more comprehensive in nature than universal design. The latter tends to exclude many people from the design. But inclusive design includes all the possible and potential users, thus making the space more usable.

Accessible Design vs. Inclusive Design

Let’s proceed to explore another design approach – accessible design. The accessible design ensures ease of use for people with a disability. Thus, accessible design focuses on the end product. It doesn’t consider how the design can be or will have to change in the future or how it might affect people who aren’t disabled.

But on the other hand, inclusive design is a methodology. It challenges designers to think about how to make a space easier for everyone to use. The methodology considers situation handicaps that might make it more difficult for people to use a space. The immediate end product doesn’t drive the inclusive design approach.

There’s another significant aspect differentiating accessible design and inclusive design. The accessible design has standards and guidelines to adhere to while attempting to create a product for people with disabilities. But inclusive design focuses on testing and creativity to make spaces easier and friendlier for everyone to use.

Where Inclusive Design and Accessible Design Meet?

Considering the scope of accessible design, one can stay that the concept is a subset of a much broader term inclusive design. However, the convergence of both these approaches could be visualised in the form of a pyramid, where the inclusive design includes or works for the whole pyramid and accessible design works only for its apex.

How to Support Diversity Using All-Inclusive Design?

How to Support Diversity Using All-Inclusive Design?

Diversity across various aspects is what makes us all unique and in fact, even binds us all together. An all-inclusive design respects diversity and considers it while shaping up. But how to support diversity while creating an all-inclusive design? Let’s see.

  • Ask the Community: You are creating a space for a community. And you want it to be useful for its people. So, why not ask its people what they want and what they don’t create a personalised space that respects their needs? You may do so through online and onsite surveys, questionnaires, interviews, etc., and gather vital insights concerning their requirements and use them during design.
  • Experience Equality: Many designs meet the bare minimum accessibility standards. But that doesn’t suffice, especially when you have a broader target user group and you want the design to be truly inclusive. Accordingly, an all-inclusive design should incorporate elements and cover everyone’s needs.
  • Empathise with the People: Empathising is taking research to the next level to make the outcome even more effective. It helps you gain a user-like understanding and experience of something. So, when you experience something yourself, you come up with a more resonating design to resolve the problem.

Benefits of Inclusive Design

A well-thought and meaningful inclusive design results in various benefits. Some of them in the context of interior design can include the following.

  • Everyone can use the space more safely and with dignity
  • The space proves comfortable for everyone
  • A space with an all-inclusive design is accommodating for everyone, no matter their age, gender, income, mobility, ethnicity, etc.
  • The space welcomes people with disabilities
  • An all-inclusive design makes a space more realistic and useful

The Challenges of Inclusive Design

Inclusive design isn’t devoid of challenges. Some common challenges involved in inclusive design and its process can include the below.

  • The designer’s education, empathy, and skill levels to design a comprehensive space, including the comfort, safety and dignity of everyone
  • The designer’s understanding of inclusive design and communicating its significance to the general public
  • Dearth of designers, well-aware of inclusive design’s concept and working and can design one to meet the user’s needs

These aren’t challenges one cannot deal with or has to live with them. When it comes to the designer’s skills and education, interior design colleges in Mumbai and elsewhere can include inclusive design in the curriculum and spread its importance within designers to prepare them for such requirements. Additionally, empowering them with the capabilities to communicate the importance of inclusive design can also help.

Designing All-Inclusive Spaces in the Educational, Healthcare, and Civic Sectors

All-inclusive space is a concept gaining momentum. The very feeling associated with bringing everyone on the same page of understanding is fostering the development of all-inclusive space across various sectors. Education, healthcare and civic sectors are a few of them. Let’s overview how all-inclusive spaces can make a difference in them.


Designing All-Inclusive Spaces in the Educational

The abilities of every student differ. While some grasp everything in the first instance, some struggle to hear the teacher. Often, the latter can feel left out and sink into frustration. But an inclusive design considers these special needs involving making arrangements for classroom visual aids and electronic blackboards, designing desks with charging stations to enable mobile-based learning and designing wheeled classroom furnishings that can contribute to a better and more equity-based learning experience.


Designing All-Inclusive Spaces in the Healthcare

In healthcare setups, inclusive designers can include digital kiosks, hallways, wide paths, spacious bathrooms, safe, anti-slip and shock-absorbent floors, video conferencing for quicker communication, and intelligent layouts facilitating high visibility. These factors can enhance patient care and contribute to patient comfort and safety appreciably.


Designers can incorporate the inclusive design approach in the civic sector as well. For instance, while designing libraries, elevators could be made that respond to tactile and auditory commands to allow everyone to use them. Additionally, designing and including mobile furniture that can be rearranged into a wheelchair can help people with restricted movements.

Effective All-Inclusive Design Requires Creativity and Experience – Enrol in INIFD to Become a Comprehensive Interior Designer!

As a responsible and visionary interior design college in Mumbai, INIFD strives to mould students into comprehensive and inclusive interior design professionals who put humans first. Our continuously updated and meaningful curriculum, experienced and empathetic faculty members and the workshops and practical sessions we conduct, help students develop technical skills and a sense of social responsibility. So, enrol in INIFD, a trustworthy interior design college in Mumbai, if you want to become a distinguished interior designer. Call us at +91 9930495720 to learn more about interior design courses.

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