Make Way for the Senses
By Wendy Cruz-Gonzalez, ASID
Designing interiors grants us the opportunity to support the function and flow of an interior environment. Through each design project, we are able to express design concepts inspired by our client’s personality and design insight which celebrate the uniqueness of the space and add to the overall design experience of the interior. For me the reality of the design experience recently became more alive than ever. Last fall I had the opportunity to meet someone for the first time in their own home and as I walked into her house I began to realize that something in my own state-of-mind was changing. Outside, the seasons had already begun to change. In fact, fall was already well underway. But I hadn’t accepted it. To me it had become a waiting time between the mild temperature and the time when it would really get cold, in other words, a period of time in which to dread the cold weather ahead. However, a few minutes in a thenstranger’s house completely changed my perspective. Her house felt cozy and warm, the fragrance that filled her house immediately made me feel like it was fall, the words written on the artwork of her home inspired confidence within me. I remember stepping inside her home and suddenly not just accepting that fall had arrived but also feeling the urge to embrace the fall season and bring it into my own home as well. By incorporating design details that can be identified by our five senses—sight, hearing, taste, touch and smell—and adding seasonal touches, we can help our clients express what they enjoy most about each season while allowing them to experience an interior that creates a lasting impression. SIGHT Seeing a space is part of experiencing it and careful planning of the lighting design will broaden the design experience. Lighting plays a big role in the ability to see but what is seen is just as important as the unseen. Iin other words, creating a hierarchy of light is essential in order to highlight accent areas, provide areas for focus, and set an overall mood. Using lighting to support a room’s function can also help our clients preserve their daily routines and tasks. Providing higher light levels in a
room to work through concentrated tasks can help support focus; lowering light levels in the same room will help loosen the mood of the room and create a more relaxed and sociable space.
HEARING The sounds in an interior can enhance or detract from our experience of it, helping us feel relaxed or uneasy, allow focus or keep from concentration. The size and shape of an interior is important. Balancing the types of finishes that are incorporated into a space will play a large role in how sounds will carry through the space. Sometimes the goal is to minimize sound, other times to enhance it. The type of construction of the interior elements will also make a difference in the volume of sounds coming into and transferring through a room, helping to maintain confidential discussions safely in a room or share music through the confines of a space. TASTE While taste may be the hardest sense to incorporate into a room in literal terms, giving careful consideration to how people will use a dining space will help design it in a way that enhances the dining experience. We can enhance the experience by creating an atmosphere with a color palette that complements the colors of food and the season. Incorporating unique artwork and accessories into your project will further personalize the space for your clients and provide conversation starters for their guests as they enjoy the food and atmosphere.
TOUCH We can think about the sense of touch as being a physical and a perceived sense in an interior. Soft, supple fabrics on seating finishes, cushioned floor finishes, even textured floors add their own character to a room. From a perceived sense, materials like flowing drapery and textured wall finishes will add their own personality to a room. SMELL This sense has the opportunity to create an instant transformation in the mood of a room while promoting relaxation. The aroma in a room can help prepare you for the seasons ahead. Bringing live plants into indoor environments can be challenging due to pollen allergies. However, by taking advantage of seasonal scents in candles and scented accessories we can create the experience without the added side effects. When approaching your next design project, consider incorporating design elements that will directly engage the senses and provide a connection to the natural world. The design concepts that engage each sense should create a distinct atmosphere in a space yet unify all design concepts as a whole. Experiment with creating distinctive color palettes, incorporating varying textures, multiple sources for lighting, aromas and sounds to help you bring your design concepts to life. In doing so, you will discover how making way for the senses and the seasons in interior design can help us feel better connected to the natural world.
NEW JERSEY CHAPTER | ISSUE II - 25 -