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Unconscious Biases When Creating In Interior Design

Updated: Apr 13, 2023

By: Doris Hager, Principal of Hager Design International Inc.

Every time we begin thinking about a project we are about to start designing, we bring our biases and beliefs to the process with us. Those biases and beliefs we grew up with whether male, female, black, brown, white, Jewish, young, or old, are all learned along the way and brought into our creations.

Bias described by the Meriam Webster Dictionary: a tendency to believe that some people, ideas, etc., are better than others that usually results in treating some people unfairly.

Bias described by the Oxford dictionary: a strong feeling in favour of or against one group of people, or one side in an argument, often not based on fair judgement.

Biased described by Cambridge Dictionary: showing an unreasonable like or dislike for a person based on personal opinions.

Biases are thoughts and beliefs by a person or a group that are not rooted in facts. For instance – pink is for women and therefore must be a feminine color. We can look around and find plenty of things and pictures to support this belief. Think back to the pink women’s bathrooms and blue men’s

bathrooms from the 70’s and 80’s.

Or the belief that the colour beige is boring. It can be, but if used correctly it’s relaxing and interesting at the same time.

What about purple? Some consider it a regal color. Others still find it feminine and feel uncomfortable in a purple environment. However, purple is also associated with luck and success. Therefore, we incorporated purple into The Bicycle Hotel & Casino located in Bell gardens, California.

So how do we sit down and create something that is neutral, unbiased, and totally unprejudiced in our concept approach? By taking ourselves, our personal opinions, and tastes out of the creative process. Here at HDI we focus on the hospitality industry versus the residential interior design market, as it is less about personal tastes with our clients and more about the needs of the end user. In residential, it’s all about the client’s personal taste, desires, and opinions as it should be.

By taking our tastes and unconscious or conscious beliefs out of the equation we can truly focus on what is best for the project. The focus needs to be geared toward the end user - the market the client is trying to attract to fit their business model. We need to understand what the end user is expecting and deliver beyond their expectations. Only by doing this can our client, most times the developer, expect to have a successful project.

For instance, a middle-aged designer needs to step outside their personal opinions, beliefs, and previous knowledge in order to create a design for a trendy hotel that is young, hip, and youthful attracting a market of 20-year-olds. Inspiring interactive spaces need to be created that allow for socializing, large gatherings, games, and much more. And simultaneously creating an environment

that is functional and manageable by the staff is equally important.

Another belief some have is that a creative person is generally outlandish, wildly dressed and bazaar. The belief that a person must not be creative if they don’t wear outlandish clothing, or wild glasses, plus have a gregarious personality is just incorrect thinking. Too many times we are judged by what we wear versus what we create. That belief would rule out 80% of the creative, hard working design world. A great designer can design anything whether they wear a beige suit, or funky ripped jeans with red blinking glasses. By providing the designer with a description of the project vision, target market, surrounding area highlights and notoriety, the ROI, and the general desired vibe of the property, the creative designer can go to work!

In summary, when creating a unique design don’t look for evidence that supports your personal beliefs, leave your own beliefs at the door. Immerse yourself in the goal of the end user, the project vision and vibe. Only then will you create something magical, unique, and profitable for the client. Listen with an open mind and you will be surprised!


Doris Hager is the founder of Hager Design International Inc. an international interior design firm with hospitality projects throughout North America. Doris can be reached at or

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