Interior design has a powerful impact on people. But unlike art, music, and movies, the spaces you spend your time in aren't so easily chosen. A poorly thought-out architectural project will affect the lives of many people for a long time. With interiors, this effect is only amplified. And as people spend more and more time indoors due to overall advances in technology – and most recently, COVID-19 – the psychological affects of interior design are making themselves known to all of us on an increasingly personal level. In light of this, we'd like to cover some principles and design concepts that, if implemented, will greatly improve the psychological quality of your spaces.
Interior Design is NOT Decoration
This is a common misconception. But interior design is much more than just decoration. Coverings, colors, and finishes are important aspects of interior design, but far from its only characteristic. A good interior designer will first seek to understand user behaviors with the aim of creating functional and aesthetically pleasing spaces. The organization of movement is a good starting point, which can be achieved through basic layout manipulation – a key building block of any interior.
This division of space can be accomplished through walls, but also through furniture and even the creative use of objects. But the division of space isn't the only consideration...
Using Furniture to Shape the Space
Furniture has a direct influence on the quality of any interior project. It's the designer's job to ensure that the choices specified in the project will favor the routine functioning of the space, making sure they will not harm elementary concerns such as circulation.
This is especially important when it comes to smaller spaces; attention to the choice of each piece of furniture is critical. In these situations, it's often more effective to design unique items to make the most efficient use of each square inch.
Choosing more flexible and adaptable furniture can be great options. Really any piece that can increase/decrease in size, or that can be used for multiple functions are seen as the future of the furniture industry.
Interior layouts are a powerful tool for shaping the interior of a space. You can control a layout with the positioning of equipment, furniture, and objects. A proper distribution of these elements will organize the flow of space, create places of permanence, and generate hierarchies of space. So, it's important to put some thought into it.
In order to develop a good layout, the interior designer must, of course, consider accessibility standards, fire escape routes, and minimum dimensions for rooms. There is a vast amount of literature delineating the appropriate dimensions for each type of space use. The most essential thing to understand is, therefore, the needs of the space and its user(s) in order to propose functional and appropriate layouts for each different scenario.
Comfort & Ergonomics
Comfort ranges from the aesthetics of the space, to its accessibility and application of technologies or passive strategies that facilitate and improve the quality of life for its inhabitants.
How is the space visually perceived when inhabiting it? Its color, brightness, depth, and height will determine if it is detected as cozy, safe, stimulating, peaceful, flexible, or just the opposite.
Is it acoustically comfortable? Adequate acoustic treatment will allow you to talk with others without having to raise your voice, or listen to a speech in an auditorium without straining your ears.
Although it may seem alien to architecture, ergonomics is the discipline that helps us design spaces and devices to be well adapted to the physiological, anatomical, and even psychological characteristics of the inhabitants and users of each room. It constitutes the relationship between the artificial environment and the actions and behaviors of the human body and mind. Therefore, the level of success of good interior design is closely related to detailed ergonomic analysis.
Designing for People
In the words of Dave Alan Kopec (a specialist in the field), psychology of space is essentially "the study of human relations and behaviors within the context of the built and natural environments." And we tend to agree with him. Although a definition like this can feel overwhelming. In the end, we think it's simply about designing spaces that people actually enjoy spending time in. If you can do that, everything else will fall into place.