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Ian Rolston Explores the Topic of Inclusive Design in New Blog Series for Boutique Design

Ian Rolston, director of design, interiors, for HOK’s Toronto studio, will be contributing to Boutique Design’s blog exploring the topic of diversity in design.

Excerpted from Boutique Design:

I define inclusive design as a “whole-person, whole process” design approach that considers the full spectrum of human diversity, which includes, but is not limited to culture; ability; age; gender; and health. Inclusive design seeks an understanding of each to develop democratized design solutions that address functional and personal needs.

Born to immigrant parents from Barbados, I fought to overcome challenges that all first-generation minority kids experience: racism, indifference and exclusion. Often considered “other” whether at school, at the park, or at the corner store, I (like so many minorities) have been aware of my “otherness” my entire life. At times, it has both discouraged and empowered me, but it has always remained an important part of who I am.

Today my “otherness” has become my superpower. It compels me to dig deeper to discover the nuances of what lies beneath the surface.

It allows me to read between the lines to uncover the heart of the matter at hand in every project. Whether it is achieving equity in creating a beautiful hotel front desk that considers both accessible function and the emotional need of guests with challenges who do not want their experience to be defined by their difference; or creating spaces in offices or airports that consider and allay the anxiety of autistic users like my niece. Simply put, design matters. That is why inclusive design fuels my passion to create meaningful design solutions that consider the needs of people authentically, while also creating unexpected moments of delight.


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