July 29, 2019|News

Healthcare Interior Designer Q&A | Melinda Avila-Torio

Melinda Avila-Torio Interior Designer - THW

This post is in a series where we talk to healthcare interior designers about their work and the industry. Melinda Avila-Torio is a Senior Associate and Project Manager at THW Design and is certified by the American Academy of Healthcare Interior Design (AAHID). 

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

Elizabeth "Betsy" Brawley. She is a well-known interior designer who specializes in designing for those living with Alzheimer's.

What products have you been excited about recently?

NunoErin. We have installed this product in a memory care environment.

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

I always go back to asking what is the client's mission/vision. Can they define what that new benchmark is for their community? I read this in a previous reference and now always ask 3 questions in the very 1st meeting:

  1. What program is working well in the existing built environment?
  2. What program could be improved if the built environment were renovated?
  3. What new programs would you implement if a new space were built?

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

Follow your passion and what you naturally excel at.

My mom is a retired nurse who spent her later part of her career working in long-term care. Before she came to this country, she dreamt about being an artist but knew she could not make a living just by doing that alone. She has always been such a nurturing person who provided care for so many who suffered from pediatric cancer, AIDS, and aging, etc. One of the things I have learned from her while growing up is that the best service you can provide the world is to marry your passion with your career.

I began my college studies in accounting but soon realized my need to work in a career with a strong calling for humanitarian service. This would be the best avenue to focus my energy on as it would also sustain me throughout all the challenges.

What is one product that doesn't exist but should? 

When a person wearing a pendant arrives, there would be a device that would interface with that personal pendant. It would announce this entering person's identity – introducing them by name and whatever neat facts you would like to share with others. This would be helpful especially for those whose eyesight is compromised. What a great way to start the day hearing your name announced to everyone in the room. It will surely brighten anyone's day.

We've also talked to Kristin Ellingsen (KE Design & Office Furniture Group)Kimberly Bernheimer (PF&A Design)Melissa Perry (Inventure)Kelley Dorsett (HDR)Christin Troutman (MCA)Keith Stanton (Thoma-Holec Design)Clairanne Pesce (Array Architects)Linnea Rehnke (Advocate Aurora Health), Marleen Milligan (Cuningham Group), Drusilla Brewer (The East Group), Jamison Delfino (Taylor Design), Melissa Pribyl (McCool Carlson Green), Marianne Graffam (Sizeler Thompson Brown Architects), and more.