Designers on Instagram

Good design can help you escape your own personal jungle. These are some of the cool people I follow on Instagram for design stuff:

Studio Dylan Thomaz: @studio.dylan.thomaz – interior design in Cape Town SA with a focus on happiness through design.

Tone Alexander Design Studio: @tonealexander – Interiors and gardens designed locally here in Cape Town.

Fern & Roby: @fernandroby – Industrial design and Audio (speakers and turntables mainly) and beautiful furniture made in Richmond, Virginia, USA.

Happy Tuesday Chimps.

Buildings through different lenses

One way to view a building is through the lens of a developer. Using this lens, a building is a foundation, a frame, and finishes (interior and exterior — windows, doors, penetrations) plus the surface finishes (floors, walls, ceilings, interior doors, rest rooms, mop closets, central plant) and the HVAC, electrical, plumbing, fire protection, controls, elevator systems.

Buildings can also be linked to health and emotion. A house can be a safe space and a home full of joy, or it can be full of anger, the scene of a divorce. Creative spaces can give you a sense of freedom and purpose. Pressurized space characterized by disjunction and poor design can give you a feeling of unease – it may even make you sick.

Depending on what you want to achieve, it helps to have the right lens. For example right now I need to sort out several functional things in our old house such as the garden lawn and the crumbling driveway. Developers lens helps here. I also have to manage a big family’s needs and expectations with my own. Seeing our home as a space for emotional fulfillment, health, and personal development is perhaps the lens to use here.

Contrast = interesting to humans

I once asked my dad why he liked The Rolling Stones so much. His answer was that they understood the need for highs and lows in a song.

It is hardwired deep in your nervous system. The senses that we humans have developed over millennia of evolution – touch, smell, sight, hearing – are made up of nerve cells linking to our brain. These nerve cells respond better to a sudden change than they do to repeated stimuli.

What does this mean? It depends on the situation.

For Mick Jagger and the boys it means that their songs have light and shade. Quiet verses and soaring choruses. Jagger will whisper and then he will growl and roar.

For emergency response vehicles it means the loud sirens are designed to be varied, sharp and with many different patterns so as to be noticed over the noise of everyday traffic. This contrast works better than one continuous noise which is easily filtered out by the human ear.

For creative people, I think it means that if a piece of art is not getting the desired response, then one of the first things to assess is the use of contrast – light and shade, highs and lows.

Contrast = interesting to humans.

Balance the Sun

Too much sun can lead to DNA damage – sun burn and eventually cancer.

Too little sun can cause vitamin deficiencies – rickets.

Design yourself a living space with some sunshine. Not too much but definitely not too little. The Sun’s light impacts mood and physical health in a massive way.

Room design

I change the set up of my house quite frequently. It’s not something I thought I would become interested in, but interior design can impact your health, your mood, your daily movement.

The latest casualty is our bedroom. There is a small flight of stairs leading into the room. It used to be that as soon as you walked down the three or four stairs, our bedside table got in your way, then our bed got in your way. You had to make a hard left turn to get anywhere else in the room.

Now the bed and table are the other side of the room, freeing up the entry. The “Flow” of the room (ha! I’m writing about “room flow”) is so much better now that you can walk down the stairs and just keep on going. If you like you can keep going all the way through the room, unimpeded to the garden. It’s amazing how much difference this one change has made.

I also rigged up a sweet Hifi system in the bedroom using an old amp with Denon speakers and a chromecast. Check out the photos on the @chimpwithcans Instagram page if you like.

I can just feel the different vibe in the room. There is a “flow” as you arrive, and the music makes you want to stay.

Furniture

I never thought I would ever care about furniture. For my teens and twenties, furniture was just stuff to sit on or put things on…or lie on. Just stuff to use.

Now though, furniture has power. I have favourite pieces. I appreciate how things are made. I get a sort of mental clarity and peace of mind when furniture fits into a room the way I think it ought to. When it is comfortable.

I think this is born out of family growth and chaos. Like a little microcosm of the world, population explosion in my house has put pressure on resources and spaces. Furniture has become misused – a TV cabinet overrun by unicorn stickers – a lounge suite as a nappy changing station. Furniture gets in the way often – tables and chairs are moved around willy-nilly for little hands and feet to climb onto – nothing more than leverage to reach something high. Just stuff to use.

Interior design and furniture can impact your health and wellbeing. Kids don’t care, and there’s a beauty in their nonchalance, but I am becoming more and more convinced of the power that ‘things fitting into appropriate spaces for particular use-cases’ can have.

Interior design versus environmental management

  • In the home or office, your environment can impact your health.
  • Cursory reading online will show you how much the design of a space can impact on your own health. It can:
    • Influence your mood.  For example, research studies reveal that rooms with bright light, both natural and artificial, can improve depression and anxiety.
      Impact your behavior and motivation to act. For example, a messy hall with shoes, bags, and other stuff may invite you to drop what you are carrying right there, whereas a clean entry and adequate storage will encourage you to take the time to put the item away.
      Facilitate or discourage interactions in your family and with guests. For example, an inviting space with comfortable chairs can encourage people to sit and chat.
      Create or reduce stress, which impacts not only your emotional, but also physical health, including your longevity!
  • Presumably this is true of larger spaces and larger systems than just the office, the living room or the entry way? Presumably this is true of environmental management systems as a whole?
  • I studied environmental management at university. The course and my subsequent career focused more on the impact of human activity on the earth. Granted that is a huge topic, but I think they missed a trick. Little attention was paid to the impacts of a poorly managed environment on the individual, beyond total planetary annihilation – a concept that is scary but hard to relate to on a day to day basis.
  • I think this is a shame.
  • The promise of healthier bodies and minds as a result of environmental management would be a powerful one. I think we can use the theory and psychology of good interior design to encourage broader best practice environmental management. This might help both the planet and the individual. Not such a sacrifice. A Win-win.
  • I’d love more info or expertise on this topic/link if anyone has any.
  • Happy Monday. 🐵🎧