A lot of interior designers that I’ve been working with or talking to lately have discussed their concern for whether or not interior design matters. If it’s just an obsession with “stuff” and spending money and opulence and materialism. If it’s something that they should ignore or deny in order to do something more noble. And understandably so. Interior design can be an obsession with stuff. It can be about opulence and showing up your neighbor and having the most unique space on the block.
We All Recognize Great Design
But it can also be about so much more. We all know that there are huge degrees of design skills, abilities, and instincts. Some don’t know anything at all. Some know enough to design their house fairly well. And some know enough that they can design the most luxurious spaces of the world. The difference is vast. But we all know when we’ve walked into a room that has been carefully designed. No matter our skills or abilities, we all will walk into a beautiful space and saw “Wow.” Even if it isn’t our style, even if we don’t technically “like” it, we can all recognize great design.
Our minds are designed to naturally appreciate beauty, symmetry, and harmony. Therefore, we are naturally inclined to appreciate great design. And great design doesn’t mean buying the best materials, or the most expensive, or the most unique. That’s the business side of design. “Interior design is (as Wikipedia describes it) the art and science of enhancing the interior of a building to achieve a healthier and more aesthetically pleasing environment for the people using the space.” As an interior designer, you’re the one who has the ability and know how, to do that.
Design Can Be Depressing or Hopeful
When I was in my freshman year of college at Mizzou, I had a friend who wasn’t well. She had checked herself into the psychiatric unit of our local hospital and I visited her while she was there. I remember how awful it was. Not seeing her. But seeing her space. It was incredibly depressing. Stark white walls, squeaky white flooring, hard furniture, nothing at all that would contribute to feeling better. I actually remember filling out a comment card about how it looked while I was there. I said something to the effect of, “I don’t understand how anyone can feel better in here? Feel hope? This space is enormously depressing to someone who is mentally healthy. I can’t imagine how it must feel to someone who is mentally struggling.”
There’s a reason why volunteer organizations like Savvy Giving By Design and Dwell with Dignity exist, because they know how impactful interior design can be. They know how it can transform the lives of anyone, but particularly those who are struggling with things like health or homelessness. Because where you spend your time, and what you put your eyes on most of the day, really does affect your health. Both mental and physical.
And even in the normal hustle and bustle of life, design matters. You can enjoy a family dinner more because the kitchen you’re sharing it in is beautiful, and functional, and well thought out. You can enjoy a date with your spouse more because the setting is romantic, and soft, and the table is sized just right so you can reach across and hold hands. And you can enjoy spending time with your kids more because their room has plenty of space to play in, soft rugs to lay on, and lots of sunshine to show through. Design does matter.
Design is About How You Want to Contribute
So the next time you’re worrying about whether your job is an obsession with materialism, or a career in helping people truly live a healthier, happier life, remember this. Everyone wants to be in a space that’s beautifully designed. No one looks at a space and says, “I can’t go in there. It’s just too beautiful.” or “I can’t stand to go in there. It’s just too gorgeous and harmonious.” But people will say they physically can’t stand to stay in a place any longer because it looks too depressing, or “off,” or dull.
We’re naturally attracted to beautiful spaces, and naturally repelled to places that have an unpleasant look. Our minds crave beauty. Now that’s not to say that keeping ourselves in check with the material side of interior design, with the money side, isn’t important. It is. It REALLY is. But it’s also important to remember that design matters. That the lives of homeless families or sick children and their families can be transformed by what you do as in interior designer. And the lives of people who aren’t struggling with these issues, but are struggling with the more “every day” struggles of life, can also be transformed. Whatever it is you want to do, remember that interior design can be about contributing to the health and happiness of other people. Or it can be about contributing to more opulence to the world. It’s all about what you decide to do with your talents.
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