How to design for different personalities?

| Marta Kluk | Interior Design Tips

Following up on our previous article about Coliving typologies in 2022, today we share another interesting take from the Co-Liv Summit. We are referring to a talk by Neha Arora N where, among many other things, she discussed design for different personalities. We felt it aligns with our design values which are based on the human-centric approach.
At A Designer at Heart, we put colivers first focusing on their experience and interactions with each other to serve them in the best possible way. In a coliving where there are 100, 200, 500 people, we need to design a space that is inclusive of all types of people. The mix of different personalities and backgrounds is enormous: introverts/extroverts, Type A, Type B, INFJ, ENTJ, and so on.

Different personalities is one topic. On top of that, there are different types of mood throughout the day for each coliver. That depends on the activities a coliver wishes to do. The space should respond to a mood of a coliver. It may be cosy, friendly, serious, wild, etc. The role of an interior designer is to accommodate all of this.

It's particularly complex for coliving design. If you think about residential interior design you have one clear user or a family. If you design a hotel, yes it is for many people, but they stay there for a shorter period of time. In colivings there is a need to make everyone feel at home and this is a big challenge because of the variety of personalities, moods, and needs.
So, how can you design a fit-for-all coliving (and is it even possible)?

division between private and communal

The most important thing is to recognise that coliving consists of two main types of spaces: communal and private. We need to design for social and private time so that each coliver can find their perfect balance between spending time in both of them. An introverted person, for instance, will be more likely to spend much more time in private spaces than an extroverted one.
There is also a need to provide something between a room for one and communal space for 20 - semi-private spaces. We should be designing spaces for 3 and 8 as well to achieve different privacy levels throughout the entire building. It might particularly help introverted people because it allows them to interact in smaller groups and in cosier settings.

private spaces

bedroom

Each of us is different - introverted or extroverted - but even the most social person needs some me time eventually. That’s why private bedrooms are so important. They are simple, protected, private, comfortable spaces that enable colivers to relax and recharge away from others. The bedrooms should evoke a feeling of calmness, security, and identity. It can be achieved by selecting warm/soft materials and muted colour palette.
It is important to acknowledge that private spaces shouldn’t be limited to bedrooms. This problem got even more emphasized with Covid when we had to isolate and some people got stuck in one small room. Therefore, we should be creating private spaces within communal spaces so that introverts can find their hideaways apart from their bedrooms. There is a concept called "isolated togetherness". It’s about having solo activities while being surrounded by others.

communal spaces: activity [mood]-based design

Nido House communal space

Communal spaces are the essence of the coliving - this is where the community is formed. Shaping those spaces can actually drive the behaviours between colivers and facilite interaction between them. If we design for hundreds of people the number of different activities to consider may be overwhelming. We refer to activities that are related to specific moods: birthday celebrations, workshops, chill-out evenings, etc.
At the same time, it is important to remember that we're always talking about limited space. We should carefully consider how you divide this space to cater to different uses. The flexibility of spaces is one of the solutions. Having multi-function rooms with movable furniture for instance. Open layout plans will also help achieve it. The variety of furniture especially seating is equally important. In one space we should envisage different group sizes - from 1 to 20 or more.

Lounge Plan

communal spaces: personality-based design

space division

Apart from catering to different activities, we have to also design communal spaces for different personalities. Introverts, for instance, are more sensitive to external stimuli, and spending time in large groups can be tiring for them. They need to get extra privacy when they need it. It can be achieved by providing more private spaces apart from bedrooms that can act as hideaways which we discussed earlier.

Nido Bryggen study room

We can create smaller isolated rooms where they can spend time alone or in smaller groups. And it is not only about visual division but also sound division. There are ways to optimize and control sound with acoustic panels, ceilings and/or partitions. Also, the use of high-back sofas is a smart solution to divide spaces using furniture. Extroverts, on the other hand, will benefit from lots of social and break-out areas.

space energy

Communal spaces are not only about direct interaction but also caring about our wellness together. One of the topics we quite often consider is how colivers recharge. We have to recognise that each of us recharges in a different way. Different “recharge zones” should be designed as everyone needs space for a little break to de-stress sometimes.

Zen space
Therefore there is a need for “high energy zones” and “low energy zones”. The way in which communal space is designed sets a certain ambiance in the space. We shape “high energy zones” by using bright, activating colors but also catering to certain activities like providing tv for video games or a foostable. “Low energy zones” which are very zen and peaceful, are usually created by using muted colours, biophilia, and dimmable lighting. These are usually yoga, wellness, and meditation rooms.

focus types

Study rooms or co-working spaces should be designed for different ways of working - from open-plan office arrangements to enclosed task/focus spaces. Some people are more aware of their personal space than others. For them, especially when work demands uninterrupted focus, a personal, isolated study space might be required.

variety above all

Designing for different personalities is a complex task. Especially these days the needs of the colivers become more and more diverse, at times even contradicting. We believe it all comes down to giving people a variety of choices. Each of us is very different. As designers, we try to respect every user and their needs by providing space for any circumstances.


Marta Kluk

Written by: Marta Kluk

Marta is an interior designer and BIM-coordinator at A Designer at Heart. Before becoming a full-time digital nomad, she worked in London for 6 years mainly designing office interiors. She travels around Europe living and working from different coliving spaces. She is passionate about the future of living and working, always striving for innovation and flexibility.

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