Art is a Meaningful (and Beautiful) Way to Help Elders Wayfind
For the past two years, Brush Development has been collaborating with Presbyterian Communities of South Carolina and McMillan Pazdan Smith Architects to design the new Evergreen House at Summerville, a thriving Montessori memory care community. Penny & Lucy Lou Art were instrumental in providing clear, vibrant images to complement the building design and aid in wayfinding. We couldn’t have had such success without the involvement of interior designer, Sydney Kerschen. We have included an interview with her below from Penny & Lucy Lou Art's recent blog post.
Interview with Evergreen House Interior Designer, Sydney Kerschen
“From Evergreen House's inception, Jennifer Brush, MA, CCC/SLP, worked in conjunction with Presbyterian Communities of South Carolina (PCSC) and McMillan Pazdan Smith Architects to design the memory support neighborhood, the first intentionally designed building of its kind in the United States. Jennifer is the only trainer in the U.S. certified by the Association of Montessori Internationale (AMI) for Montessori for Aging and Dementia. The building is already being presented as the gold standard for memory support design at national and international events.”
Meaning Behind the Name: Evergreen House
According to Amy Laughlin of PCSC, “While the most familiar usage of the word evergreen refers to trees and shrubs that have green leaves throughout the entire year, the word also has another meaning – one that is particularly applicable to the groundbreaking concept of Montessori for Aging and Dementia. Evergreen is something that doesn't change with the seasons, something that is timeless and does not become obsolete. That is the intention of Montessori-based memory support, which helps residents feel useful, valuable and relevant by rekindling past roles and tasks so they can make meaningful contributions to their present life and community.”
How important was the art on this project? Did you start with the art?
The art on this project was super important! We knew we had to include pieces that not only looked beautiful, but also served a purpose. Everything in this community was approved by a Montessori for Dementia and Aging expert – Jennifer Brush.
Penny and Pam McPeak from Penny & Lucy Lou Art were able to take custom shots for us and they really understood the directives of the Montessori vision and made it a reality in the artwork. Penny's team made the artwork portion of the project run so smoothly, and I knew I didn’t have to worry about anything art related! With their help we were able to select art pieces that not only fit with our aesthetic, but were also easy for residents to recognize, engage with, and use as wayfinding tools to promote independence.
What was your / your client's vision and / or goal in designing this space?
The vision from the beginning was to create a built environment that fostered the Montessori for Dementia and Aging principles. All of those principles work together to essentially make lives of residents less stressful and more fulfilling. Our goal when designing was to take what we knew and implement a layout, finishes, furniture, and artwork that would all be cohesive and look beautiful (as we always try to do) but would also support the day-to-day operations of the staff, and make everything feel like home for residents.
How do your client and their residents feel about the space?
Everyone is RAVING about the space, but particularly the artwork! It's amazing how many families have resonated with the images and they all love that the artwork serves a purpose, and isn’t just there for decoration. I think it just reinforces the idea that every piece of the community was well thought out with the purpose of bettering the lives of residents. And how can you not respond well to a mission like that?!