Jill Pable ’86 is breaking new ground through her research in trauma-informed design, and most recently with the launch of her website Design Resources for Homelessness. Pable, a professor in the Interior Architecture and Design Department at Florida State University, has long been interested in the impact that design in the built environment can have on people’s lived experience.
An oboe performance major turned design student, Pable followed in her older sister’s footsteps to attend Appalachian. After graduating with a degree is Housing and Interiors, she returned to Florida and worked as a designer until an invitation to teach a course at Daytona Beach Community College opened her eyes to the possibility of becoming an educator.
“I found the experience tremendously gratifying, and was something that I both enjoyed and seemed to be successful in,” she recalled. “As an instructor, I stand the chance of affecting thousands of design projects through my students — far more than I could have as a design practitioner myself.”
She returned to school, first obtaining her MFA in interior design then her doctorate in secondary education. Her first full-time teaching position led her to California, and it was there that she, along with her design students, had the opportunity to work with a local homeless shelter.
“The students’ interaction with staff and residents was a major moment for me, and showed me the potential for design to make a significant and lasting difference in people’s lives,” she said. “I have come to learn more about the deep need for recuperative programs and environments that people in crisis need, and how there is so much to do and learn in this area.”
So, she took action. For the past several years, her research has focused on developing a better understanding of trauma-informed design and connecting designers to research in various fields ranging from psychology and social work to medicine.
Pable is currently surveying various experts in the field to determine additional content that is needed in the Design Resources for Homelessness initiative. The goal of this free website is to interpret research, providing interior designers and architects with actionable information to help with their projects. Another goal is to eventually engage others to develop and describe voluntary guidelines for housing and shelter providers that better ensure the ability for these environments to help with recovery. She is currently developing a continuing education course focused on these principles to be offered through the American Society of Interior Designers.
Pable is optimistic that the website will spur further opportunities for collaboration and learning, and is also exploring additional channels to share best practices, including a newsletter or blog, more case studies and other spotlight reports that communicate the perceptions of people in crisis to designers who create environments that can help them.
About the Department of Applied Design
One of seven departments housed in the College of Fine and Applied Arts, the Department Applied Design at Appalachian State University fosters excellence in design education, design research and professional placement. The department balances theoretical and pragmatic approaches while exploring an awareness of impact through design decisions on the global community. Faculty focus on a holistic approach to creative problem-solving by integrating sustainability and ethical responsibility in teaching and practice. The department offers bachelor’s degrees in apparel design and merchandising, industrial design and interior design.