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On May 1, the U.S. arm of global home furnishing brand IKEA unveiled a model of a permanent supportive housing unit (aka a Small Home) at its Live Oak store in Texas. Built with sustainable materials, the model is an example of trauma-informed design, which bases design decisions on an “empathy-based approach.” Trauma-informed designs consider the needs of individuals who have experienced trauma to create spaces that provide a sense of respect, safety, community, and dignity, according to home and garden website Home Accents Today. 

IKEA worked with WestEast Design Group on the project, a San Antonio-based architecture and interior design firm that focuses on projects such as homeless facilities, child advocacy centers, and affordable housing communities. The retailer also collaborated with Towne Twin Village, a local organization committed to ending homelessness by providing housing in the form of tiny homes, apartments, and RVs.

IKEA trauma-informed design for a model home
Image: courtesy IKEA North America

After the in-store phase of research is completed, Ikea plans to use the findings to construct a small home built with trauma-informed design principles that will be donated to a local permanent supportive housing community in San Antonio. Working with WestEast Design Group’s Social Impact Studio, it will then measure outcomes from individual(s) living in the space and gather data which will aid in advocating for a trauma-informed approach.

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