Category "SBC Team"

Staying On Brand: The Inside Scoop on Branded Environments

September 29, 2022

by Liz Tung | EDAC | Marketing Coordinator | Art Associate

Today, social media influencers work hard to publicize their personal brand – whether it be as an affordable fashion expert, amateur chef, or travel connoisseur – sometimes, they even go as far as creating a brand identity for a beloved pet. Influencers are able to build a following through their unique insight and knowledge on a specific topic. So, very much like a major household name brand like “Nike”, these influencers gain consumer buy-in through credibility. With a rise in touchpoints via social media, brand and identity are more important than ever before. Building a brand within a physical space is just another way to drive a message home. But what does it look like to have a branded environment?

A branded environment provides a space where people have a meaningful experience and connection. It uses the physical environment to bring values, culture, and vision to life. 1 This is accomplished by combining multiple disciplines like graphic design, interior design, and architecture. It’s about understanding what a company’s brand stands for and translating this into the built environment. When done well, visually experiencing a branded environment communicates the corporate identity without the need for additional verbal explanation.

Apple is one of the best examples of a company that successfully brands its environments. As a company, Apple is innovative, sleek, and modern. Everything in their store reflects these core traits. Their product, furniture, displays, and check-in/out process directly tie back to their brand mission statement: “to bring the best user experience to its customers…”. 2 The Apple logo is used sparingly in the store; with such a strong brand identity, even if they removed their logo, consumers would be able to identify what store they were browsing.

Apple Store/View Apart/


Things to Consider When Defining Your Brand:

  • What is the brand’s personality? Voice? Purpose?
  • How is the brand different?
  • What story is being told?
  • Who is the ideal customer?
  • Who will use the space? Who is the “audience”?
  • How will they use the space?
  • List adjectives for your company.


Show Not Tell.
People should be able to walk into your space and immediately identify your values through feeling. In this way, the environment becomes a physical expression of what you stand for as a company. Create an environment that demonstrates your dedication to your work, the principles you align with, and the people who work for and with you.

First, it is essential to define your brand. Your company is more than a logo, color, and fonts. Similarly, branded spaces are more than a logo on a wall, designing with company colors, giving everyone a mug with your logo, or hanging up your company mission statement. The key is to know exactly who you are and what your brand is. When defining your brand, an excellent place to start is by listing adjectives to describe your company and how you want people to feel (i.e. casual, luxurious, or innovative?); take these and apply them to the design.


Definitely Do Not Yell.
Your space does not have to be all about YOU to showcase your brand. The design should be immersive and authentic. If you create genuine connections with the space – a spark of joy – this will make it memorable. If your brand is in people’s faces, the message becomes watered down and is less impactful. Make sure to capture the essence of who you are and don’t be so literal.


Branded Environments For All.
You might think, “Our company isn’t Apple,” or even “We aren’t retail, so this doesn’t apply.” Branded environments apply to all markets, not just retail, hospitality, or corporate spaces. It is important to build a connection, and for your space to reflect your company. It also helps with brand recognition. One of the most significant benefits of a branded environment is its first impression on clients. Consumers, clients, and employees all expect more. With social media making it easier to discover businesses that go above and beyond, it’s no longer enough to have a nice space if you want to truly excel.

Branded environments can also help improve engagement. Employees want to feel valued and like they belong; in return, they will buy into a company. In hospitality markets, branded environments help create an immersive experience that entertains and connects consumers. In a healthcare environment, branded environments focus on the patient experience.

Healthcare facilities can be hectic and stressful, but branded health spaces help promote joy and positivity throughout a facility with their design and function. Senior living communities have a unique opportunity to create brands within a brand, given the overall community’s principles and all the amenities within. No matter the function of the space, it is important for the company’s mission and core values to be embodied in the physical environment.

The next time you visit a business, take a minute to think about the experience – do you like what the space communicates about the company’s brand?


1 PressOn

Living with Dementia & How Good Design Can Help

September 7, 2022

by Trisha Hale | IIDA, NCIDQ | Designer

More than 7 million Americans aged 65 and older are living with dementia, many suffering from one of the most progressive forms of dementia, Alzheimer’s. While this mind-altering disease impacts a vast number of individuals each year, I wanted to share my own story so those who have not been personally affected can gain a better understanding of dementia. I would also like to offer insight on the positive impact good design can have on a living environment from my unique perspective as an Interior Designer specializing in the senior living market.

Many people hear the term “memory care” and don’t fully understand its meaning. Memory care is a higher level of care in a senior living community where the resident has suffered the loss of their memory retention from the progressive disease, Alzheimer’s (or another form of dementia). This level of care consists of higher trained staff, greater security measures and limited independence to protect the safety of at-risk residents while also providing them with the best quality of life despite their impairments.

My beautiful grandmother, Patricia, lived comfortably in a large house in Holiday Shores, IL for most of her adult life.  A mother of 6, avid baker and self-taught seamstress, she is one of the most self-sufficient and creative people I know. My family moved her into a care community a few years ago after we noticed she was not taking care of herself the way she used to; for instance, she stopped cooking and became increasingly forgetful. Her official diagnosis was short-term dementia, which affects short-term memory, the slowing of brain cell communication that presents itself in forgetting how to do menial tasks like cooking, cleaning, and recalling recently-learned information. She’s fortunate enough to still understand the world around her and is able to perform basic tasks so she resides in an assisted living community. She is, however, in a community where if her dementia worsens, she can be transitioned into memory care and will already be familiar with the community, staff and residents.

Grandma Pat

My husband’s wonderful grandmother, “Gigi”, was also recently diagnosed with short-term dementia. A couple of falls, a broken hip, and two brain bleeds later she is, unfortunately, unable to recall some of the most basic things. This woman that was a wife, mother, grandmother, professional cleaner, extremely organized, stubborn, independent, comical, and a notably caring and considerate person, changed in what felt like a moment. She now lives in a memory care community, and through my own experience with my grandmother, Pat, I have a much better understanding of what the families and residents are facing. It is hard to see your loved ones transform from the vibrant person they once were. That is why it is so important these communities are designed purposefully and appropriately to allow residents to live comfortably while assuring their families are getting the care they need and deserve.

In some of the memory care communities Spellman Brady & Company has worked on, we have designed “reminiscence rooms”, which are areas for residents to explore to jog memories of everyday life. These areas include “life stations” such as dolls to rock, feed, and care for, costumes to play make-believe, laundry to fold and iron, and a writing desk to draft letters. We heard from one senior living location that a resident sat at the desk station every day, writing hall passes, as it brought back memories of his days as a school principal. It’s vastly important to remember these residents had long, beautiful lives before they were touched by dementia. As much as we can do to spark even the smallest memory it can provide residents with a little bit of comfort and normalcy. Our goal as senior living interior designers is to maintain residents’ dignity while also providing safe and nurturing environments for them to thrive.

Here is Gigi, who was so excited to become a great grandma and absolutely loves “her” great-grand babies. Her community makes sure she always has a baby doll to hold and care for as this brings her abundant happiness. When we visit her, she doesn’t always remember us, but if we bring our little ones she lights up.

To find out more about dementia & Alzheimer’s – and how you can help affect the trajectory of these life-altering diseases – visit the Alzheimer’s Association online or considering giving to our fundraiser supporting the 2022 Walk to End Alzheimer’s.

Steps & Tips for Successful Resident Design Committee Involvement

August 18, 2022

by Beth Arokoyo | IIDA, NCIDQ | Project Manager & Senior Designer

When planning a renovation project for a senior living community, most owners and design team members know the importance of resident involvement to ensure the success of the renovation.  If a space that is currently occupied by residents is getting a refresh or complete re-design, you can count on resident feedback once the project is under way.  Naturally they want to have some input on what is happening – this is their home, and they pay to live in this home.

However, successful design by committee requires a few basic steps.

Step 1 – Build the Committee

Ideally, committee members should have differing viewpoints and include influential residents in the community.  It is not effective to have a large group of residents that always agree with one another.  Keeping the group small while still representing the voices of women, men, those that are open to change and those that are more resistant, is ideal.  This mixture will provide the best results in the end!

The creatives at Nuera Marketing point out that “The downside of adding more viewpoints, is when members attempt to demonstrate their value by throwing up unqualified challenges to thoughtful work.”  This can undo hours of creative effort by design professionals.  It can also have a negative impact on project budget and schedule. The thoughtful team at Justinmind encourage that “the people involved in a design project should be pushing towards a common goal, not competing to get their agenda implemented.”

Carefully selecting the committee to include members that understand and value the “big picture” will help keep the project on track. The “big picture” in this case includes not just current resident opinions, but also budget, timeline, and marketability to future residents and their families.

Step 2 – Introductions to the Design Team

When owners introduce a resident committee to the project design team, the best opportunity for success lies in good communication.  The residents need to have access to the qualifications of the designers so they can begin to build trust and respect for the design professionals before seeing a presentation.  We have even been interviewed by a resident committee prior to being hired for a renovation project!

Explaining what roles each design team member plays is helpful too – clarifying what the architect does versus interior designers will help guide questions to the right people.

Step 3 – Establish the Ground Rules

Rules for review should be agreed upon to confirm everyone understands their role.  Resident input is critical, they have a unique perspective to share.  However, it needs to be said that while their input is valued, it will be equal with other team members’ input.

The design team must find a way to balance feedback from all the players at the table – residents, owner, developer, management team, staff, other professionals (architect/engineers).  However, the owner holds some responsibility to set boundaries for residents that make it clear input is desired, but final decisions will not land on them alone.  There are many pieces to the puzzle!

For the design team to make sure all viewpoints are considered, they need the ability to take all feedback and creatively balance the needs of operations, maintenance, safety, cost, and aesthetics that appeal to current residents, future residents, and visiting family members. Aesthetic decisions based on opinions of those with no design experience does not produce a functional and beautiful design.  Letting the designers design is going to give you the best results in the end!

Once the committee has been built, design team introduced, and rules established, you are ready for a presentation.  Here are a few practical tips that will help presentations be successful:

Tip #1 – Connection

If the design team has the opportunity to get to know the members of a committee it will lead to more empathy on both sides and improve the flow of ideas back and forth.  If the group is isolated or too large, there will be hurdles to finding connection between all the members of the group and slow down the open communication. Consider including time for some one-on-one conversations to build rapport.

Tip #2 – Meeting Conditions

The environment for meetings really matters, especially for residents.  Interior designers consider finish selections based on aging eyes and acoustics.  Those same elements matter for the environment in which you present the design.  If the room is too dark, if the screen is too small, or the room is too large you won’t have the right conditions for success.  The meeting will get derailed by the audience not being able to see or hear everything being presented to them.

Bad Meeting Space Example


Good Meeting Space Example

Tip #3 – Focus on Agenda

During an interior design presentation, inevitably questions will come up that are “off topic” – like floor plan questions for the architect, lighting questions for the engineer, operations questions for the owner.  If you can have a “parking lot” for those off-topic questions to be written down, it will ensure follow up really happens but keeps the meeting focused on the agenda and the decisions that need to be made during the meeting.  The “parking lot” can become an agenda for the next meeting with the right team members in the room.

Parking Lot Example

Everyone has the goal of a beautiful, functional design that is marketable and on budget. Following a few steps to establish the right resident committee, relationships, and rules will lead to a renovation design review process that leaves all members feeling heard. The right interior design team can be a big part of achieving that goal!

Art as Narrative

August 4, 2022

by Nicole Dutton, Senior Art Consultant & Project Manager

A long time ago, in a land far away, lived an artist who wanted to tell a story. So, they picked up their paintbrush and began. And that, my friends, is how narrative art was born.

Artwork that depicts a story in which the viewer finds themselves immersed is called “narrative art”. Often this type of artwork drops us into a world in which the “story isn’t bound by the four sides of the canvas. It expands and moves beyond, leaving the viewer wanting to know more.” (Milan Institute). Drama or comedy, fictional or non-, it’s the middle of a plot that we’re challenged to complete. The artwork can leave us feeling reflective, meditative, energized, or passionate, evoking a variety of emotional responses.  We can relate to the characters depicted and entrench ourselves in an entirely different environment.

As art consultants, we recognize spaces where art is simply a design element and the right solution. With that type of application, it could be a gestural splash of brightly saturated paint on canvas that draws out the colors in furniture fabric or a textured sculptural element that helps ground the soaring ceilings of a large space. Although narrative art can harmonize a space through those same formal elements, it provides something more. It slows us down. We’re physically and intimately pulled toward the artwork as we connect to the artist and their story.  The artist has provided the prompt, and now it’s our job to run with it, only dependent on our imagination.

Here are a couple of our favorite narrative artwork pieces from South Carolina artist Jon Smith. How might this artist transport you into his work?

Phillips Collection, Renoir’s Boating Party

Jon Smith – Phillips Collection, Renoir’s Boating Party

Aix-en-Provence, Farmers Market

Jon Smith – Aix-en-Provence, Farmers Market

Spellman Brady & Company Announces New Blog

August 2, 2022
We’ve been a big player in the interior planning arena for nearly 30 years – and for good reason. Backed by the design sense – and uncanny wit – of 31 employees and counting, we are small, but mighty. We believe in collaboration and that many voices are better than one. Our people are truly our best assets. So, with that, we’ve decided to share these brilliant voices with YOU through a blog. Posting twice a month, you’ll hear from the entire SBC team on topics ranging from design trends to the psychology of art and “my favorite room”, where one of our designers explores her personal style at home.


On Thursday, you’ll learn about narrative art from our very own Senior Art Consultant, Nicole Dutton.


Thanks for following along!

Q&A with Diana Spellman, President and CEO, Spellman Brady & Company

April 1, 2022

Environments for Aging sat down with our President, Diana Brady Spellman, for a Q&A session on the past and present state of senior living design. In regards to how Spellman Brady involves and educates clients, she said “Our motto is ‘listen, guide, deliver.’ We start by listening to administration and residents. It’s important to understand their goals, the catalyst for making the change, nuances of their residents and staff, marketplace, and competition.”

Read more from Diana’s interview in the Spring Issue of EFA.

Spellman Brady Receives Woman-Owned Business Enterprise Certification for State of Illinois

March 25, 2022

Spellman Brady & Company (SBC), an award-winning St. Louis-based interior design firm, is proud to announce it has been officially certified as a Women-Owned Business Enterprise (WBE) by the State of Illinois. To receive this certification, SBC went through the State’s rigorous and stringent process over the past year to confirm that its business is owned, managed, and controlled by a woman. SBC was awarded 50 procurement commodity (NIGP) codes out of the max of 70 codes. In addition to Illinois, SBC is also WBE certified in the State of Missouri and the City of St. Louis.

As a woman-owned business since 1994, SBC’s commitment to create opportunities for women has remained at the forefront of its values, as evidenced by women making up 93% of its staff. Led by President and founder Diana Brady Spellman (a leader in the interior design industry for over 40 years), SBC believes providing equal opportunities for women is critical to foster creativity and innovation, as well as utilize the many skills women lend to thriving companies. Per Spellman,

“We are excited about the multitude of opportunities that this WBE certification provides us to participate in as a prime or sub-contractor in Illinois. We look forward to partnering with other companies that share our commitment to providing equal opportunities to minority populations.”

Spellman Brady & Company is an interior design firm specializing in senior living, multifamily, healthcare, and higher education environments. The firm maintains design excellence by delivering comprehensive interior design, furniture, artwork master planning, and procurement services. Spellman Brady & Company has completed more than 6,300 projects in 43 states and abroad since its founding 28 years ago.

Originally published by Construction Forum STL.

Diana Spellman, President

Spellman Brady & Company certified as Women-Owned Business Enterprise

June 15, 2021

Spellman Brady & Company has been officially certified as a Women-Owned Business Enterprise (WBE) by the City of St. Louis.

To receive this certification, SBC went through the city’s rigorous and stringent process to confirm that its business is owned, managed and controlled by a woman.

As a woman-owned business since 1994, SBC’s commitment to create opportunities for women has remained at the forefront of its values, as evidenced by women making up 93 percent of its staff. Led by president and founder Diana Brady Spellman (a leader in the interior design industry for more than 40 years), SBC believes providing equal opportunities for women is critical to foster creativity and innovation, as well as utilize the many skills women lend to thriving companies.

“We are truly humbled and honored to be a part of an incredible legacy of minority-owned business leaders in the St. Louis area and we look forward to partnering with other companies that share our commitment to providing equal opportunities to minority populations,” Spellman said.

Diana Spellman, President

Spellman Brady hires art associate

April 12, 2021

de stanley

St. Louis, MO (July 20, 2021) – Spellman Brady & Company is pleased to announce the collaboration with De Stanley, the principal of Stanley Studio, for artwork consulting services.  Mrs. Stanley, who previously worked for Spellman Brady as an interior designer, will be providing artwork consulting services for the firm’s fast-growing artwork master planning practice for healthcare, senior living, multifamily, and education clients.
Mrs. Stanley has over 10 years of professional experience and a passion for photography coupled with a strong sense of interior design and art consulting.  She earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA), Interior Design from Maryville University of St. Louis.  In addition to her previous 5-year tenure as an interior designer with Spellman Brady, Mrs. Stanley was an instructor in her local community for high school students interested in Interior Design where she taught fine art and architectural perspective drawings.
Spellman Brady & Company is an award-winning St. Louis–based interior design firm specializing in senior living, multi-family, healthcare, and higher education environments. The firm maintains design excellence by  delivering comprehensive interior design, furniture, artwork master planning, and procurement services. As a Certified WBE Business, Spellman Brady & Company has completed more than 6,300 projects in 43 states and abroad since its founding 27 years ago.

Contact us for more info.

De Stanley

De Stanley
error: Content is protected !!