March 16, 2020|News

Healthcare Interior Designer Q&A | Christin Troutman

This post is in a series where we talk to healthcare interior designers about their work as interior designers in the healthcare market.
Christin Troutman is an Associate at MCA Architecture. She is certified by the American Academy of Healthcare Interior Designers (AAHID).

What is one book, person, or talk that has been most influential in your career?

In July 2019, I traveled to Michigan to visit the Herman Miller factories. Our group had the honor of having dinner with Gary Smith, Herman Miller’s VP of Global Operations. It was a very profound 3 hours for me in my career, as I was embarking on a new leadership role. His philosophies and perspectives resonated with me. His main message was about designing the truth, not just in program, but speech and communication, as well. Truth has a major impact on the human experience because humans experience life in progressive moments and each moment has its own truth. As a mentor or leader it is important to build up a team and assign the strongest person to the appropriate tasks and strive to be honest with what is right, not just what you think people want to hear. As it relates to design, rooms within a program, within a plan, within a built environment are simply just rooms, until we as designers identify what human emotions are evoked. 

For a long time, I felt like my truth and design were being stifled because past leadership had their priorities wrapped into budget and speed, and design was an afterthought. I know codes, and I pride myself on focusing every design around how people will use the space and what impact any product or architectural design will make. After sitting and talking with Gary Smith, it reignited my passion for focusing on how the spaces we design truly impact the humans that are using them. Since July, I have made an active effort to hear what my clients are saying about the spaces we are planning for them and strive to be their advocate with regards to their leadership team and others within my firm. I have also worked on being more present for my junior designer, along with being the most compassionate and honest mentor I can be.

What products have you been excited about recently?

I have geeked out about a living wall product that relies on a computerized watering system to minimize water and electricity use. It uses aeration techniques by drawing air into the plants’ roots where a natural process called phytoremediation turns impurities into fresh oxygen. So it is a living wall that can be brought inside and truly improves air quality. Each plant has an individual planter that allows for a variety of plants. It involves no dirt and is virtually maintenance free. This is a very rare opportunity for a healthcare environment and it excites me to know there is technology out there that may allow for a true biophilic design feature.

Do you have any go-to design solutions or techniques for creating healing environments?

My main go-to for creating healing environments is using low maintenance products.  As a former patient myself and after working as a facility designer for a health system for 7 years, I have a strong understanding of what it means to heal within a hospital environment. Not only does sound mitigation and aesthetics have a huge impact on the patients, but so does minimizing the interruptions in and out of rooms. For instance, if we specify low maintenance products, the patient does not need to be bothered by the EVS staff stripping and refinishing a floor. A simple mop and vac cleaning process cuts down on noise, and it cuts down on heavy cleaning protocols, while a patient is occupying a room.

If you could tell your younger self one thing, what would it be?

Believe in yourself...your passion and tenacity is not a negative feature. Channel that for the greater good and you will succeed in everything you put your mind to. During every performance review, I have made it a goal of mine to remind myself that I want to be known for being positive and tenacious, so that I can deliver integrity and inspiration to every project and team that I am on.

We've also talked to Michelle Clark (REES Associates)Jennifer Fink (BDA Architects)Lindsay Hampton (Pulse Design Group)Melinda Avila-Torio (THW Design)Lilliana Alvarado (UPHEALING)Ashleigh Pfluger (TJNG Partners Inc.)Jane Rohde (JSR Associates)John DuBard (Boulder Associates)Lisa Cini (Mosaic Design Studio)Susan Clark (Clark Patterson Lee)Crystal Hill (Odell Associates)Dr. Debra Harris (RAD Consultants)Libby Laguta (L2D.Design)Kristin Ellingsen (Office Furniture Group)Kimberly Bernheimer (PF&A Design), Melissa Perry (Inventure)Kelley Dorsett (HDR)Keith Stanton (Thoma-Holec Design)Clairanne Pesce (Array Architects), and Linnea Rehnke (Advocate Aurora Health).