Celebrating International Women’s Day: #InspireInclusion Through Conversations with Inspirational Women in Commercial Interiors – Rina Keane

This International Women’s Day, Design Insider is proud to embrace the 2024 campaign theme: #InspireInclusion. We are delighted to present a series of interviews with some of the most inspirational women in the commercial interiors community—each playing a pivotal role in shaping the industry.

Inclusion is a pathway to innovation, creativity, and empowerment. When we inspire inclusion, we not only celebrate diversity but also harness the rich perspectives and ideas that drive our industry forward. This year, we’re highlighting the voices of Inspirational Women who aren’t just participating in the commercial interiors sector but are actively shaping its future to be more inclusive, vibrant, and dynamic.

Rina Keane, Design Director at Lumsden, is one of our Inspirational Women. In our conversation, we delve into how Rina interprets #InspireInclusion within the context of her work and the broader commercial interiors sector. We explore her personal experiences, the success stories that have marked her journey, and the collective strides we can make toward a more inclusive industry. Moreover, we discover the women who have inspired her and how she, in turn, serves as a beacon of inspiration for others.

Join us as we celebrate Rina’s achievements, insights, and stories, and let’s continue to #InspireInclusion every day in every way.

Rina Keane, Design Director at Lumsden

Please could you introduce yourself and your role?

My name is Rina Keane and I am Design Director at Lumsden, we are a design studio focusing on the retail and F&B within the cultural and visitor attractions industry.

I began my career working for design practices in both Ireland and the U.K prior to being settled permanently in London since 2013. My work has tended to specialise in F&B and retail design, including most recently with Lumsden; the Portico Shop at the National Gallery.

My role at Lumsden pivots in quite a few directions, this means I’m able to get a real understanding of the whole business.  So, I wear a number of ‘hats’ from project manager, designer, to mentor for the team. My priority though, is leading and supporting our team of designers across a myriad of projects.

How do you interpret #inspireinclusion and what needs to happen to achieve this within the commercial interiors sector?

‘Inspire inclusion’ to me is about creating a culture in which everyone can thrive in. As designers, it’s critical that we have an understanding of the people we are designing for. Hiring a team with different skills, educations and cultural backgrounds is key to designing more human-centric, user-friendly and relatable spaces.

This inclusive culture is only possible by:

  • Creating an open environment where gender equality is the norm
  • Providing support and mentoring at all stages of a person’s development
  • Creating opportunities and a studio culture that encourages all members of the team to speak up and share their opinion.

Are there any success stories of inclusion you would like to highlight?

Within our work, I’m happy to say that we are finding conversations around inclusion for marginalised groups coming up much more frequently in the early brief stages, which gives us the opportunity to introduce some of our external consultants such as Emily Rose Yates, Accessibility consultant who advises on Access and Inclusion Standards for visitors or Carra Santos, Sustainability consultant, who advises on fair and ethically responsible ways our clients can challenge their suppliers.

Within our own studio, the gender split of our team leans approximately 70/30 towards women, with all of our emerging designer’s being female. However, female leadership in design as a whole is still lacking, and so by championing younger female designers we ensure opportunities exist to develop the necessary skills within our team, and that this is built into the Lumsden process and culture.

These small wins are how inclusion will become the norm and not the exception; small, consistent steps in the right direction for the benefit of all.

What does it feel like to be inspired by, and inspire, people around you?

I shall never forget some wise advice I received from a colleague that has stayed with me; ‘Always try to work for someone who inspires you’.

This is something I have found more and more important as I have developed and grown as a designer. I am constantly encouraged and inspired by the Lumsden team, the lived experience and varied viewpoints across all members of our studio opens up perspectives, it enables us to draw on the breadth of people and skills to design spaces that everyone will be able to use and enjoy, and creates an environment where innovation can thrive.

Which inspirational women do you celebrate?

I would say that the British fashion designer and campaigner Vivienne Westwood and Ruth Bader Ginsburg who served as a justice in the Supreme Court of the US and fought against gender discrimination for most of her life, are the two women I celebrate most. Both are icons and trailblazers in their fields, embracing and celebrating their individuality and having such long careers that only became more successful with age and experience.

Thank you for reading this conversation. Discover more empowering stories from Inspirational Women in commercial interiors by clicking HERE to continue our #InspireInclusion series.

Join us in celebrating and learning from these influential voices!


About Alys Bryan

Alys is a knowledgeable design editor who is focused on instigating conversations, both online and in-person, with industry experts which challenge, educate and advance the commercial interior sector. Her training and 15 years of professional experience as a furniture designer for the commercial sector makes her uniquely placed to lead Design Insider as Editor
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