Five Questions With Nadia Beyzaei


By Rumnique Nannar

Posted on January 31, 2024 | Updated February 01, 2024, 12:34pm

Nadia Beyzaei is admittedly someone who likes to steer projects behind the scenes at the Health Design Lab. However, as a 2023 Staff Excellence Award recipient, we clamoured to chat with Nadia and spotlight her outstanding work at Emily Carr.

What do you love most about your role?

Blending research, health, and design fields in one space is a stellar combination. Sometimes, health research can take many years for findings to inform best practices or feel tangible. It’s so applied at Emily Carr, and the process is a big part of the outcome. It’s not only about the ‘final’ thing but building community and local capacity along the way. On a recent project, a couple of students had never stepped into a Canadian hospital until they were hired on a project. Not to say all our projects are connected to the formal healthcare system. Still, it’s rewarding to create opportunities for students to see themselves as future social innovators, service designers, and design researchers in the Canadian healthcare field.

When have you felt the proudest and why?

When you see a project come together after a co-design workshop or after a phase of work, it makes all the countless hours put in worth it. Over the past few years, I have tried to live by the motto, “Just because you haven’t done it before, doesn’t mean you can’t do it!” While there’s some blissful ignorance intertwined, it has created opportunities to challenge myself and those around me to strive for something bigger than the sum of us. There have been cool opportunities over the last few years, including co-curating the Lheidli: Where the Two Rivers Meets exhibit at Emily Carr with the Aboriginal Gathering Place, the Health Design Lab, and Knowledge Carriers from Prince George this past summer. The Decolonizing Cultural Safety Education Through Cultural Connections project has been a highlight of my time at Emily Carr!

What’s the best advice you’ve gotten?

It’s a simple one. To be effective in whatever you’re doing, you don’t need to replicate how someone else has done something to do it ‘right’; you need to be yourself, put the time in, and push through the learning curve to discover what works for you. There are countless ways of accomplishing the same outcome, but finding your path is what pushes you to grow.

If we set you loose, what would you present a TED Talk on?

It’s definitely designing tiny spaces. I lived in a micro-apartment for a couple of years, which was 175 square feet. My challenge was, ‘How can I effectively design this space to be cozy and worthy of Architectural Digest!’ On top of that, I lived there during the early COVID years of mostly working from home, so curating a zen space featuring a cute Zoom background was a top priority. So yeah, sign me up for a Ted Talk on designing small spaces with furniture and decor finds solely from Facebook marketplace!

What piece of art of any medium would you bring to a desert island?

I like to keep my hands occupied, so I would bring a sewing needle. I’ve been a Girl Guide leader for over ten years and have taken wilderness first aid training. So, hopefully, I have the whole survival thing sorted, and I can last on a desert island for a while! I would probably look for found items to make a tarp, sleeping bag, or experimental outfits. It’d be fun to make a two-piece fit out of driftwood or something. Who knows?

Check out Nadia's work at the Health Design Lab website.