MORGANTOWN, W. Va. – Inspired by color, West Virginia University interior design
alumna Kasey Helmick designed a center for individuals with cognitive disabilities
which would help them lead more fulfilling lives.
Her project, “True Colors,” was recognized as a regional winner and finalist for
the national conference in the Interior Design Educators Council Student Design
Participants were tasked with designing a small vocational facility to serve as an educational and training space for individuals with autism spectrum disorder and other cognitive disabilities.
“After doing some research with ASD and speaking to people who were involved, I found
that people who are on the autism spectrum learn through repetition and are visual
learners,” Helmick said.
Helmick used color to inspire her concept. She designed a training space for individuals
with autism to allow them to live active, self-determined lives. Instead of removing
stimuli in the space, she wanted to help build a tolerance to it by using color
“I wanted to form the connection between color and movement,” she said. “As you walk
into the space, there are colors on the floor that direct people to the different
rooms in the space.”
With color coordinated dots and lines, Helmick designed a center that helped guide
movement to certain locations. The various dots – red for standing and yellow for
sitting – can help those with autism determine the correct distance when speaking
to another individual.
“At the reception desk, for any situation where an individual should be waiting,
I put red dots on the floor at the appropriate distance that you would have a conversation,”
Helmick explained. “By placing my color circles at the correct distance, that repetition
kind of creates the daily routine and the connection through color.”
Helmick plans to take everything she learned as a student at WVU and apply it to
future, real-world designs. She wants to bring awareness that built environment
effects everyone physically, mentally and emotionally.
“I would like to carry out the idea of designing with purpose by being socially responsible
through all my designs,” she said.
CONTACT: Lindsay Willey, Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design,