HMO Interior Design Tip of the Day – Function Dictates the Form

“If you understand the function, the design becomes self-apparent” (Ferdinand Porsche designer of the VW Beetle and Porsche 911)

This element of design is pretty universal. When it comes to designing a product, from a phone to a bedroom, the design has to serve a function. It can look beautiful, but if it doesn’t serve its function, then it’s pretty useless from the user’s perspective.

When you are looking to design a really great bedroom for an HMO, or hotel room the designer must start by asking “how can I make the room function really well?”

When presenting, I have asked rooms full of people what do they think are the functional priorities for an HMO bedroom and these seem to be the most common answers:

1. Comfort & A Comfortable bed, to get a good night’s sleep
2. Storage. Enough space to hang all of your clothes & personal items
3. Somewhere to work/eat, write emails, etc
4. Privacy/feel secure
5. Good wifi

(Strangely, having a shower room never comes up until I mention it)



I always start my designs with a functional layout plan, showing the bed location, storage locations, electrical, heating & lighting positions mapped out. Doing this is equally as important as thinking about the colour scheme.

Steve Jobs was famously quoted as saying “Design isn’t how it looks, it’s how it works’, and many other famous designers will follow the same mindset when it comes to design. Function and beauty are inseparable.

Then there’s the next layer of functionality, the durability element. As a landlord, I have a vested interest in how much things cost, and so all of the parts, from door handles to washing machines need to be reliable and durable. I don’t want to have to spend time and money replacing things so I spend time investigating which materials are going to last me the longest without giving me problems.

So when you are looking to design an interior, start by thinking about the functional priorities from the user’s perspective (both the tenant and the property manager are the users btw). It’s what all the greatest Designers from Steve Jobs to Ferdinand Porsche to Terence Conran do first.

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