Scholarship helps student concentrate on designing the end

September 29, 2009 by  

luke-nightingale-millenium-excellence1The award was generous.

The recognition for his leadership and volunteering? Even more so.

However, Lucas Nightingale is most enthusiastic about what receiving a Millennium Excellence Award scholarship will do for Vancouver communities in the future.

“With one less thing to worry about, then you can focus on what you’re really in school to focus on, which is your work,” said Nightingale, “developing ideas and experimenting and trying something new.”

A student in his third year of an Interior Design BA at Kwantlen’s Richmond campus, Nightingale was awarded the $10, 250 scholarship early in September in honor of his leadership on campus, ambitious involvement in Vancouver’s interior design industry and progressive volunteer work.

Since beginning at Kwantlen. Nightingale has co-founded the Emerging Green Builders Group, an organization that advocates for sustainable design practices. Additionally, he contributes to the Interior Design Association of B.C. as the Kwantlen student liaison. In the little spare time he has left, he has managed to find time to volunteer with the Friends for Life Society, an organization based out of Vancouver’s West End that provides social and personal services for people requiring palliative care, or support through the process of death.

While spending time with clients in sterile hospital rooms or impersonal nursing home settings, Nightingale witnessed the unnecessary suffering that people endure in a sensitive stage of life. He aid that these types of care environments are often detrimental to the healing or dying of a person dealing with a terminal illness.

With a holistic perspective on design and how it affects the spaces in our lives, Nightingale is formulating ideas on how dying can be made more natural and comfortable for people in their own homes.

“To die well is really important,” said Nightingale. “Most often, if you’re dying in your own home, that’s where people are most comfortable. If that option is open, nine times out of 10, people would choose their homes over a hospital, for sure. The practicality of it is that if they need medication or nursing support, how can interior design provide that?”

Nightingale thinks that architects and designers need to consider the full life cycle when building or modifying homes, so that the spaces of a home will be accessible and pleasant for people in the early stages of life as well as old age. In his view, healthy living is important, but so is healthy dying, or “a good death”.

For now, Nightingale is busy with the school work that will help get his design ideas off the ground. This semester, he will be closely studying the relationship between end-of-life care and interior design. He hopes that this work will yield some bigger ideas for his fourth-year thesis and ultimately, change the way society experiences an inevitable part of life.

“For me, it’s about welfare and quality of life in those final days and a hospital setting just isn’t…I think that we can do better than that. It’s a huge topic and it’s not something that interior design can solve on it’s own, but it’s something that interiors are a part of.”


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