Interior design is an influential practice. The power of considered interior design is strong, with features from colour choice to lighting having drastic effects on the mood, actions and subconscious of those who enter the designed space.
While the focus is often placed on the positive attributes associated with influential design, there are also the negatives. Because people are so affected by the spaces they inhabit, it stands to reason that unconsidered design could have negative effects on a person.
When it comes to home design, the issue is magnified. Homes are safe havens showcasing their owners’ individual styles and tastes, but they also are an incredibly high-impact purchase often affecting how homeowners see themselves as much as how others see them. Details as simple as where a person grew up and where he or she lives can be used as a key identifier that is not overly invasive.
When these spaces are negative, they create a stigma of sorts with which people identify. Akin to the criminology labeling theory – when criminals begin to self-identify as such once they move into the prison system – or the social housing stigma that creates a ‘can’t rise above’ attitude, when people live in spaces that are impersonal, unhealthy and inefficient, these social issues are exacerbated.
That is not to try to suggest that both of these issues could be eradicated with scattered throw cushions or increased natural light. It does, however, suggest the power of a space on individuals and how this relates back to and harbours a group mentality.
This kind of negative response received from unconsidered design is often present in nursing homes. When the elderly must, or choose to, move from their own homes into an aged care facility, it can be traumatic at best, especially considering the stereotype of austerity and unfamiliarity. This shift can cause depression and increased isolation even if the inhabitant is surrounded by a signifcantly larger number of people.
John David Edison has shown an understanding of these effects with his design for two retirement residence developments that epitomize a high quality of life and easy home-care transition. These developments, the Dunfield and Living Life, both include active leisure spaces such as salons, bars and spas.
While luxurious furnishing, colour schemes and modern finishes definitely add character to these spaces, it is their connection to the world outside and their prime location that will help ensure their continued success. Both spaces have strong visual connections to the outside – in the case of the Dunfield, it sits smack dab in a trendy young area of midtown Toronto, removing the isolation that is ever apparent in buildings of this nature.
Whether we like it not, personal spaces do affect us even if that effect goes no further than our moods. Given the amount of time people spend in their homes, however, the difference between positive and negative influences on a space can make a massive difference in quality of life. For that reason, it always makes sense to create with mindfulness and care.