Swati Katyarma: Enhancing quality of life through interior design and architecture

Swati Katyarma

Swati Katyarmal is the fifth and latest trainee to receive the AGE-WELL and Ontario College of Art & Design University (OCADU) Graduate Fellowship. The partnership between AGE-WELL and OCADU has been in place since 2015.

A first-year graduate student in the Design for Health (DHEA) program at OCADU, Katyarmal is an architect from India whose work is largely focused on hospital design. Her research revolves around exploring the design elements (interior design and architecture) and their implementation to support long-term care (LTC) and aging in place settings – a subject that is close to her heart after her experience supporting her father who passed away from a rare form of dementia.

In early 2022, Katyarmal was involved in a consortium of design firms assigned to come up with a preliminary concept design for a post-acute care and rehabilitation facility in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. “Our plan had to accommodate the varying physiological and cognitive needs of expected clients,” shares Katyarmal. “I found the work rewarding and purposeful.”

It was while working on this project that she came across AGE-WELL and was inspired by its focus on technological innovations and services to improve the life of older adults by maintaining their independence and safety while also supporting caregivers.

“After working in the industry for over 17 years, enrolling in a master’s program in a new country seemed like a gamble,” says Katyarmal. “As a new immigrant, I often doubt myself and my capabilities. AGE-WELL and OCADU are reputed organizations and receiving this joint fellowship has reassured me that I am on the right track. The money is helpful of course, but it is the recognition of my vision and ability to make a difference that matters to me the most.”

Katyarmal’s funded research aims to enhance the quality of life for older adults, and anyone with cognitive/physical impairments through interior design and architecture by offering soothing ambient design and features that meet their physical and psychological needs. Her idea is to provide a platform that offers customized product and/or service recommendations based on parameters specified by the user. These recommendations would be tailored to account for individual physical/health conditions, caregiver availability, and financial capacity.