Interview with Diana Celella, Director of The Drawing Room Interiors, United Kingdom

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Diana Celella

As Director of The Drawing Room Interiors, Diana is recognized throughout the industry as an expert in implementing evidence-based designs.

Interview with the 2020 MUSE Design Awards Winner - Diana Celella

1Please give us a brief bio of yourself and your design background.

Diana is an International award-winning designer, based in the UK. She is Director of The Drawing Room Interiors, Associate Consultant Hammond Care Dementia Choices and Ex President of SBID. Diana works in exclusively in the commercial Interior Design sector, specialising in healthcare projects, from care homes and dental practices to assisted living and retirement villages. She is recognised throughout the industry as an expert in implementing evidence-based design. Diana has working in this sector of interior design since 1987 and as such has gained a reputation as a well-recognised and extremely Knowledgeable Healthcare Designer. Her approach to each project is tailored to the needs of the operator. Diana was awarded West Midland Woman of the Year 2017 for her contributions to Design Education.

2What made you become/why did you choose to become a designer/artist?

I have always been passionate about Art and Design from a very young age. Interior Design was not a well known sector of design in the 1980's UK, so when I decided to do my degree in Interior Design, I had to explain to people what I was studying and what was involved. Having worked in the industry for 35 years, I feel blessed everyday that I have a career which I love so much. Design is so more than a job; it is a complete life style and devotion.

3Tell us more about your business/company, job profile, and what you do.

I became a healthcare designer because I can design in a way that can give residents or patients back their Independence, dignity, confidence and reduce accidents. I have always loved using design to create new and innovative Interiors but healthcare design is so much more involved, using evidence based design and keeping up to date with latest research, which is why it is so interesting and challenging.

4What does “design” mean to you?

Problem solving in a totally creative and innovative way.

5What’s your favorite kind of design and why?

I'm biased, but I love architecture and interior design. The impact it has on people and the environment. Whilst not taking away from the importance of aesthetics, the interior needs to be functional, practical, and has enjoyable spaces that work for everyone.

6To you, what makes a “good” design?

Balancing all the elements perfectly - aesthetics, innovation, functionality and safety.

7Describe your design style and its main characteristics.

As a healthcare designer, I designed an interior which has a non-institutional feel, but at the same time practical, for residents, patients, staff and relatives. It is designed to feel like a comfortable and interesting space but includes infection control, dementia friendly, age appropriate furniture and the usage of evidence based design in behind-the-scenes.

I like to think I don't have a particular style as I design each project very differently to suit the brief, budget, and style of building.

8Tell us about your design process.

My design process starts with meeting the client to get a full and detailed brief. If it is a renovation, it is also accompanied by a full site survey. Then, I start to research the location, the needs of the residents, the style of the building and from this the seeds of the initial concepts begins. I like to take my clients and stakeholders on the design journey. thus the need for many meetings throughout conceptualization. It is important for healthcare design to listen to feedback from the client as they know their client base well. Once we have a signed off design concept, the practical work begins, where we produce plans, elevations, bespoke cabinetry drawings, finishing schedules, FF and E specifications etc. I like to take my projects right through to completion, selecting artwork and accessories to complete the look and feel.

9Do you think your country and its cultural heritage has an impact on your design process?

I do think the cultural heritage has a large impact on my designs, as I try to connect my designs to the location of the project to give it more meaning to the residents. Therefore, I look at the cultural heritage of the town or village the project is located in.

10Congratulations! As the winner of the 2020 MUSE Design Awards, what does it mean to you and your company and team to receive this award distinction?

We are all over the moon!! This is such exciting news, to be recognised internationally by such a prestigious sward for our project is fabulous.

It also means a lot to the complete team who worked on the project: the client, JRHT, contractors Wates Construction, and project management Faithful and Gould, and to the residents who live in New Lodge.

11Can you explain a bit about the winning work you entered into the 2020 MUSE Design Awards, and why you chose to enter this project?

We created a 55’s Healthcare development comprising of care homes and extra care unit, along with a refurbishment of listed building and folk hall for Joseph Rowntree Housing Trust.

Located in a Garden Village, we have used a biophilic design concept. With bespoke designed moss/bark wall and paneled reception desk, designed to give a Wow Factor whilst still being dementia friendly and age appropriate. Creating an environment which enables the residents to be as independent as possible with more confidence and less accidents.

Using evidence-based design research such as light reflectance values used throughout the building with flooring close in points to avoid sudden changes to aid aging eyes over 30 point LRV difference for all furniture floor finishes. Upholsteries and flooring are anti-bacterial, anti-microbial and impervious, with the furniture ergonomically designed for the elderly.

Activities include local areas helping people with dementia to recall memories, such as a train carriage with vintage luggage and Chocolate Factory area.

Quote from a 92 year old resident: "I only wish I was younger so I could live here longer”.

I chose to enter this project because it illustrates that we can design using evidence-based design but still create a lovely environment for people to live in, including people living with dementia.

12What was the biggest challenge with this project?

The biggest challenge was the budget as it was extremely tired, so we had to be innovative in how we used it.

13How has winning an Award developed your practice/career?

The other big challenge on the project was meeting the Stirling University's Gold criteria at the same time as creating a practical interior.

14What are your top three (3) favorite things about our industry?



Colour and texture

15What makes your country specifically, unique in the design industry?

I think UK is known for its understated elegance and balanced design.

16Where do you see the evolution of design industry going over the next 5-10 years?

I hope that we become more sustainable in our designs, with more cradle to cradle products available, making us more responsible to the impact we have on the world.

17If you were a student entering this industry or an aspiring MUSE Design Awards submitter, what advice would you give them?

Students - Follow your dreams - don't let people tread on your creativity, be true to yourself.

18What resources would you recommend to someone who wants to improve their skills in the design industry?

As designers, we have a responsibility to keep up to date with products, regulations and new technique. You could say attending CPD talks (Continual Professional Development) are extremely important.

19Tell us something you have never told anyone else.

My best design ideas don't usually come to me while sitting at my desk - it can be driving in the car or in the middle of the night or walking the dog. I need to mull over the project in my mind, sometimes I can look like I have not started a project but I have it in my head. I am constantly thinking about it and letting my mind wander to different possibilities and answers.

20Who has inspired you in your life and why?

My first Design Manager after I graduated as an interior designer, Jeanette Percival. She is an amazing mentor and formed the way I look at projects. She also made me extremely organised!! I still see and work with Jeanette 35 years later.

21What is your key to success? Any parting words of wisdom?

Always keep your end user in mind.

22Do you have anything else you would like to add to the interview?

Just thank you for our award! We are thrilled and I can't wait to receive the trophy.

Winning Entries

New Lodge | 2020

Interview with Diana Celella, Director of The Drawing Room Interiors, United Kingdom

With bespoke designed Moss/bark wall and paneled Reception desk, the reception is designed to give a Wow Factor whilst still being dementia friendly...
(read more at MUSE Design Awards)

The Drawing Room Interiors

The Drawing Room Interiors provides a complete, friendly, and professional interior design service, experienced in a wide variety of residential, commercial, and public spaces.