Each item that is placed in a room must meet approval for use in each space type. For example, commercial spaces use products that have specific ratings that comply with requirements for flammability, durability, safety, clean-ability, convenience and more. A good example is an oversized bathroom stall that is designed to accommodate a wheelchair turning radius. Among other considerations are space allowances and reach ranges; clearance between chairs; aisle widths; egress [ability to leave]; use of fire sprinklers.
Successful design takes into consideration safety, comfort, convenience, service and complies with local and state building codes. In 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Act [“ADA”] was adopted with its goal to create spaces that are barrier-free and usable for people with all types of physical abilities and allow for equipment clearances. Since then all new building design and existing buildings must include modifications to meet the technical requirements comply with ADA requirements
Good examples are lowered light switches; addition of ramps with very specific incline angles; and widening of some door widths. Most designers are socially-responsible and had been following inclusive design practices long before laws compelled them to do so. In many cases, the end-user needs to be educated about these requirements. A budget conscious owner may not fully comprehend guidelines that may dictate a design or additions to a building to meet requirements. This is when the guidance of a trained professional is critical.
Licensed interior designers routinely attend continuing education courses to stay apprised of industry practices and current changes to building codes.
The latest trend that impacts your health and safety is the use of environmentally responsible materials. Off gassing occurs when building materials release chemicals through evaporation into the air. There is concern that long term exposure to gases emitted from such sources as paint, furniture and carpet can be harmful. The Environmental Protection Agency has set standards for Indoor air quality.
As a consumer you should know that the places you visit have been carefully planned to provide for your safety and more and more buildings are providing healthy environments for the overall good of the planet.
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