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Friday 12 August 2016

Newly minted BA (Hons) Interior Design graduate Kelly Cotté is leaving Solent with first-class honours and a lot of experience under her belt. She talks to us about her final degree project, life at Southampton Solent and her plans for the future.

Tell us a bit about your final project

For my final year dissertation, I decided to explore and investigate how suitable living environments are for the ageing population, particularly the kitchen area in the home. The aim was to investigate the problems facing the ageing population when using kitchens, and how interior designers can eradicate these issues.

A continually growing problem within the design industry concerns designing for the older generation, and with the average life expectancy now at 82 years old, the country will occupy the highest number of older adults it ever has.

In my study, the participants were arranged into three age groups: those aged under 45, those aged between 45 and 65, and those aged over 65. I found older adults experience a loss of muscular strength, shrinkage in stature, and deteriorating vision, all of which change how the kitchen was used. For example, a vast majority of the older participants had difficulty in using higher and lower storage areas.

Designers must develop, evolve, and produce proposals to meet the needs of the ageing population, such as storage that is accessible at waist height, or to explore the concept of motorised appliances and worktops, which can be adjusted to suit the height of the user – ensuring their homes can allow them to live comfortably and ergonomically.

Too often design is concerned with aesthetics and atmosphere, and not on how occupiers will use the space, which begs the question: what is design if it cannot be used?

What have you enjoyed most about your time at Solent?

Studying at Southampton Solent University has inspired my creative mindset, opening my eyes to a world of design far exceeding the traditional stereotype of re-decorating rooms. From my degree, my creativity has been dared to new levels through exploring the ergonomics of interior design to make a space user centred. This is where my passion lies; improving the standard of living for all and designing to ensure every individual can experience a luxurious and comfortable environment of their own. 

Kelly Cotte - Restaurant visual

What’s next for you? Tell us a bit about any work experience or internships you have lined up

Now that my degree has come to an end, I am keen to gain experience within an architectural/interior design firm, and put the skills I have learnt from studying at Solent into practice. In the future, I would like to specialise in kitchen design, as this is an area I am particularly passionate about, with the goal being to open my own practice.

Please share any advice you have for other students or potential students?

My advice for any student is to always keep in mind why you started the course. As a student, it can be hard to find the motivation to keep going when you are stressed and feel as though it will never end. I found that remembering why you decided to enrol in the course, and what you wanted to achieve, helped me to persevere through the stressful times of my degree. Nothing worth having comes easy!