What exactly do we mean by ‘modern practice’ of interior design? And what are the ‘ancient values that surround how we strategise interior design today? For clarity, let’s begin with the ancient values of interior design. The term ‘ancient’ used here is no accident. The most ancient civilisations prior to the Greeks, Romans and Egyptians- each of which plays a pivotal role in shaping modern day design, indeed attached important sentiments to the design of the space around them.
Values of functionality, psychology, relaxation and mindfulness are each important daily attributes which have been elevated by interior design since the beginning of human history. Some argue that these primordial values have been lost in the 21st century. For example, Hestia, Greek Goddess of hearth, home and family, was perceived to promote the idea of family time. The ‘hearth’ is the fire around which families gather to share stories and explanations of the unknown. Throughout history, the hearth has taken the shape of family dinners and shared stories. More recently, this has faded away as we place less emphasis on such values.
However, technological interior design has allowed us to regain traction and move towards fulfilling our primaeval values. Technology has allowed us to exploit and manipulate the space around us to accommodate for optimal wellbeing, functionality, harmony and mindfulness. But how exactly is this achieved? The technology that enhances our interior design capabilities to restore our ancient values are as follows:
Psychology and wellbeing
The direct correlation between interior design and wellbeing cannot be denied. Over the past decade, this area of research has received impending attention and it’s clear as to why. Upon thinking about the underlying fundamentals of wellbeing, it becomes clear that all its components can either be enhanced or diminished by the internal space in which we choose to reside.
Interior designers can use technology to effectively manipulate surrounding aesthetics to evoke a positive or negative emotional response. Natural light plays a vital role in elevating interior ambience. Consequently, it possesses the power to control our mood, functionality and wellbeing.
Carefully variating light is critical to the maintenance of humans natural daily rhythm (circadian rhythm). We should be exposed to natural light during the day and sleep at night in dark. The only problem is, we spend 80-90% of our time indoors. Traditional interior design strategy would call for filling a room with as much natural light as possible. This would include strategically placing windows and making minimal use of blinds and curtains. Today, we can rely on smart home technology that digitally controls and manipulates the lighting of a room according to time and preferences.
Studies have shown that adjusting the amount of interior light in a home can help synchronise and stabilise the body’s internal bio-clock. Lighting manufacturers now have the ability to create a light source that works with your circadian rhythm.
Philips Hue collaborates with the App Sunn to make your room lighting rise with the sun, gradually brightening and changing colour to foster wakefulness and assist your body’s natural suppression of melatonin. During the day, it tracks the sun and slowly makes your lights cooler to promote alertness.
Tech for Colours
From striking disco lights and flashing club beams, to the soothing warm glow of ambient lighting in a spa, our bodies naturally recognise the implications of the intensity and colours of light on the way we feel. 19th Century psychiatrist and psychoanalyst, Carl Jung picked kick-started the body of scientific research on colour. Almost two centuries later, technology has taken over the way we generate and receive coloured light.
Point out a colour and more often than not, we can associate something with it. Studies behind the power of colours have suggested that different colours evoke different emotional and behavioural conditions. Colour therapy, known as chromopathy has been adapted to lighting and uses the benefits of different colours to affect our wellbeing. Lighting manufacturers have also jumped onboard with the chromopathy and have joined forces with technological development teams to create devices to manage coloured light.
Smart lights have integrated dedicated night modes that brighten up the room with warm, red hues and concentrate on minimising harsh blue tones which have been proven to disrupt sleep. The Lumie Luxe functions as a body clock by mimicking the natural rise of the sun in the morning and fading warm-toned lighting at night.
Clean breathing is set to be big for the coming years health trend. Our homes are amongst the most toxic environments, which essentially makes this an interior design issue. With the UK Government’s Clean Air Strategy, published earlier this year, there is no room for navigation around this problem.
Whilst ancient civilisations lacked the scientific knowledge and evidence of the benefits of clean air; they focused on wellbeing in other areas like being in nature and appreciating the visual and audio elements of water on mindfulness and relaxation. It is logical to suggest that our modern appreciation for nature’s fresh surroundings comes from our despise of the polluted air that surrounds us.
Smart home air purifiers are an obvious example of how to filter and clean the air in your home. Combined tools with Apps, such as uHoo plays its part in keeping the air clean by alerting you to dangerous or unhealthy levels of pollution in your home. The device uses discrete sensors for precise information about real-time air quality in a room and uploads air readings wirelessly to the cloud. uHoo tracks temperature, humidity, PM2.5, VOCs, air pressure, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide and ozone.
The level of comfort at which a person operates should be enhanced by the environment around them. The designer has a specific role when designing the interior of a room specified for work.
Interior designers use furniture to establish an aesthetically pleasing and functional sense of order in a room. The changes in the way we interact with technology have changed the way we live and hence function in the space around us.
Sitting on the couch to watch TV, and sitting on the couch to work on a laptop requires two different ways to use that couch. Modern furniture should be created to accommodate for technology. That is not to merely suggest that furniture should include charging portals and interactive screens. Technology that is new today, will be replaced and obsolete by next year. Therefore, furniture should instead be created with the new standard of living in mind.
The Scene XXL chair by M2L for example, comes with the option of an attached ‘tablet table’, and an upholstered high back for privacy when typing or making phone calls. These features, whilst are not necessarily digital or technological- are designed for the digital and technological age.
From a design perspective, the computer and other mobile devices have gotten rid of so many things that were once used by designers to manipulate the ambience of a room. Clocks are no longer a necessity because they are on our phone. File cabinets have become antiquated, as have records and books, thanks to cloud storage.
Interior design process
Technology has also improved the functionality of the interior design process itself. The tools once used by interior designers, namely tape measures, drawing paper, telephone communication and level tools; have all been highly technologized.
The AirMeasure app, employs augmented reality (AR) technology, that allows the user to measure real-world space and objects. Its accuracy has consequently, led to the abandonment of the manual tape measure. Simply pointing the device at the areas/object you wish to measure, and require one less bulky tool with you.
There once was a time when the only means of communicating with clients, suppliers, and prospects, was by making individual phone calls. Houzz, the online community, provides a digital space for architects, designers and clients to engage and share ideas. Its Site Designer allows professional interior designers to publish their own work on its website. Whilst word of mouth and recommendations are a sure fire way to find clients, this coverage and publication of a designers work is more likely to cast the net far and wide and attract new customers.
To up the excitement, the Houzz 3d AR tool allows people to see and move over 500,000 products from the Houzz Marketplace in their home, before buying. These virtual visual aids have shaken the industry.