Archive for ‘interior design’

August 6, 2015

Dream Homes and the Idea of Happiness

I’ve recently re-read Alain de Botton’s Architecture of Happiness, a very popular book that deals with much of what I’m trying to learn about, though from a different, philosophic perspective. One of the book’s starting ideas  comes from another author: beauty is a promise of happiness, wrote Stendhal and de Botton discusses what this idea means in the world of  architecture. His interpretation is that we perceive a building as beautiful if we can imagine ourselves living happily in it.

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Dream homes for my students

I often wondered how to translate these kind of observations and ideas into research domain. An opportunity to investigate the relations between buildings, especially homes, and happiness came from my work in school. In a popular optional homework called „Buy a Home“ my students were supposed to go to a real estate search website and find a home they wanted to “buy”. There was no money limit, but it had to be a property they would be able to take care of on their own (no butlers and housemaids allowed, so they don’t drift too far from the reality).

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January 19, 2015

Kindergarten Design: Buildings That Encourage Development

Pedagogical traditions seem to be very interested in the effects that environmental factors have on (small) people.  Over a century ago, some models like Montessori and Waldorf, which have influenced mainstream kindergarten practice as well, started promoting the idea that a great deal of attention should be put into the fabrics, the materials,  the colors and  the overall organization of spaces for children.

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Fuji kindergarten exterior; photo by 準建築人手札網站 Forgemind ArchiMedia

Since I work in a kindergarten as a psychologist one day a week, I recently had the opportunity to learn more about the psychology of spaces for children. Our small kindergarten was about to get a budget-friendly makeover and we were all asked for opinions. I spent a lot of time looking for research-based guidelines for kindergarten design, as well as coordinating everyone’s personal preferences. Here I would like to share some of the findings, and  some inspiring examples and other resources I found.

 

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April 7, 2014

An Interview with Interior Decorator: Sacha Chabros Says Design is Felt

Sacha 2014

Sacha K. Chabros Design Felt

Vancouver-based Sacha K. Chabros is an interior decorator, a volunteer for an international non-profit group and the author of Design Felt, a blog about how different elements of design relate to how occupants feel in a built environment. Sharing her interest in environmental psychology, I was excited to learn more about it from her perspective.

There are so many blogs about interior design, most of them filled with beautiful images. As many other people, I find them to be the source of inspiration, enjoyment and, well, procrastination. But rarely do I find a blog attempting to do a little more – to make you think about design, instead of just enjoying the sight of it.

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June 11, 2012

An Interview with Environmental Psychologist: Joren van Dijk on Creative Spaces

For many people I meet, everything seems to be going well in life, but they’re not feeling quite happy. With all the information, options and resources available nowadays (in the part of the world that lives in abundance), people seem to be lacking the spark, inspiration and intrinsic motivation more than ever. That’s why I belive we can benefit from exploring ways to enhance the level of creativity in our lives, presuming that being creative is a happier mode of human existence than repeating patters and being uninspired.

Everyday creativity of ordinary people has been a very interesting research subject for scientists in recent years (as opposed to creativity defined as a rare trait of exquisite individuals resulting in historically new scientific discoveries and great works of art – which was “the original” definition of creativity). In other words, creativity for the rest of us has been “discovered”. That’s why I’m happy to learn something about designing spaces that nudge ordinary people to find creative solutions to everyday problems from Joren van Dijk, a Dutch environmental psychologist and the founder of omgevingspsycholoog.nl (Dutch for environmental psychologist). Joren  consults organizations on how to design interior and exterior in order to facilitate people in achieving their goals.

 

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April 11, 2012

The Role of Restaurant Decor

Isn’t owning a small cafe or a restaurant just about everybody’s alternative dream career, one of those things you’d gladly try if you had an opportunity? Maybe not, maybe it’s just me. However, I’m sure you like to eat out occasionally at a nice place where you feel comfortable and relaxed.

Aria, Toronto: by Sifu Renka

My question is, how important is the restaurant environment for your dining experience? Whether you agree of not, Susskind & Chan (2000) found that food and decor are more strongly related to a high rating by customers than service. The importance of good food is self-evident, but, interestingly enough, many gourmets I know deny the importance of ambience for their satisfaction.

March 1, 2012

Design Interventions to Promote Stair Use

At my very empirically and behaviorally oriented psychology college department, psychology was most often defined as a social science aiming to describe, explain, predict and control behaviour. I’ve always had a problem with this control part, or manipulate, as it was sometimes put. Do we really aim to manipulate all the “non-psychologists”, as we sometimes call them? If so, who decides what people should or shouldn’t do, what’s desirable and what’s unacceptable behavior?

Stairs at Vatican Museum; photo by Giorgos~ (moving to Google+)

For me, manipulation means leading someone to do something you want them to do (but they don’t). On the contrary, I see my role as helping people do things they want, but for different reasons don’t succeed. 

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January 29, 2012

A Year of Writing About Environmental Psychology Summarized in 10 Points

It’s been a year since I started writing about relations between people’s environment and their feelings, thoughts and behaviour. I find Mind Shaped Box’s first birthday a great opportunity to summarize what were, for me, the most significant points over the past year. I decided that there should be 10 of them.

by hownowdesign

With 29 topics in environmental psychology covered, I’d like to start with 3 of my favourites posts:

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January 5, 2012

Straight vs. Curved Lines in Architecture – the Importance of Forms for our Well-being

Loving works of architecture is, in a way, like loving people – some are cute, interesting,  not too strange, and appear warm and friendly. They seem somewhat familiar and are easy to love from the first sight. Then there are others, who make a lousy first impression – they seem boring and cold, but when you get to know them, they grow on you. Even more, you fall crazily in love with them.

Farnsworth house, designed by  Ludwig Mies van der Rohe in 1951, an icon of 20th century modern architecture; photo by andrewzahn

And this is how I’d describe my love for modernist minimalistic design with its straight lines and rectilinear shapes. It wasn’t until I learnt about the philosophy behind it, that I started to see it as not boring, but pure; not cold, but honest; and not depressing, but rather idealistic. In spite of my initaial lack of interest, I eventually fell in love with it.

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November 30, 2011

Should Therapists Display Their Diplomas and Certificates?

Fellow psychologists, counselors and psychotherapists, do you proudly display your diplomas and certificates for your clients to see them? Or do you feel uncomfortable with the idea, believing you should confirm your expertness through your work and that your clients could perceive your self-promotion as undesirable?

What should be displayed on the wall in a therapist’s office?; photo by favaro JR.

As you are aware, there is evidence that many factors, beside specific therapeutic techniques, play important role in psychotherapeutic process. Such factors may be the therapist’s gender and age, impression formation based on the therapist’s appearance or manners, or the environment in which the therapy or counseling occurs.

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November 11, 2011

Reading a Floor Plan – What Attributes do You Attend to?

Are you, like me, one of those people who think of floor plans as very important for comprehension of space? When I stumble upon a great house tour or newly built dwelling in a regular check up of my favourite design and architecture sites, floor plans provide very crucial information for me. Like any design lover, I want to be able to visualize that beautiful space better in order to appreciate it and enjoy more. Photographs are great (and indispensable), but there’s something about floor plans that gets my imagination going.

Vintage magazine scan containing a floor plan; photo by SportSuburban

Since floor plans can be considered a spatial representation and communication tool – between architects, constructors, house sellers and house buyers, there’s a lot to be investigated from psychological perspectives on how people think about them, that is, on the cognitive processes underlying the conceptualization of floor plans.

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