NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

September 24, 2013

Meeting client needs is key for Currier and Associates

Interior design firm specializes in health centers, Alzheimer's units

BY DYKE HENDRICKSON
STAFF WRITER

---- — NEWBURYPORT — The demand for housing for the elderly and those in rehabilitation is growing each year, but Currier and Associates, Inc. has been in the field for more than three decades and now is prepared for a growth in its business.

The seven-employee firm designs interiors for hospitals, nursing homes and centers that house Alzheimer’s patients. The firm offers pre-design consulting, interior design and architecture, renovation management, and installation services.

As the recession recedes, president Sharon Currier is finding that Currier and Associates is well-positioned for new clients.

“National statistics show that an area of construction growth is in building for seniors,” said Currier, whose office is on Merrimac Street. “Now that the economy is coming back, we’re seeing more activity.

“We work closely with architects, and include features that can be helpful to the special type of residents who will be living in the building,” she said.

Though Currier’s clients are not limited to health centers, their mantra of “for living, healing and working” suggests the team has a sensitivity to those who are in vulnerable health.

If designing an interior for Alzheimer’s patients, for instance, they try to keep walls and floors in bright shades so that patients aren’t prone to “sundowning” or depression with the oncoming of night and darkness.

Some interiors are marked by circular corridors, so patients who get “lost” can keep walking until they travel to the point from which they started.

“We listen closely to the client,” said Art Currier, husband of Sharon and the business manager of the operation. “But having experience in the field is helpful.”

Currier and Associates has designed numerous senior centers and rehabilitation hospitals in the area.

Recently it has been involved in discussions with Northbridge Companies in Burlington, which has plans to construct a 75-unit facility for patients with brain damage on land adjacent to Anna Jaques Hospital.

Sharon Currier studied design at LaSalle College in Newton, and has built her business over the years.

One result of decades in the trade is that an owner tends to collect remnants, or manufacturer’s samples.

So several weeks ago Currier took her excess fabric, carpet, tile and more, and offered it free on the roadside of well-traveled Merrimac Street.

“It was a great experience,” she said. “I stayed outside, and met the people who stopped. Usually a conversation would start about how a given item could be used. One collector made bow ties, and took fabric; we had a quilter come by, and a person who made peace flags. There was even a fellow who restored antiques microphones, and was looking for cloth.”

“A lot of people went away happy,” she added.

Sharon Currier, whose firm is certified as a Woman-owned Business Enterprise (WBE) said, “The statistics show that there’s a growing interest in senior housing.

“Our work has given us a deeper understanding of the special needs involved, and we’re always prepared to design for different types of clients,” she said.