Sunday, April 11, 2010

Design School 101- The Purpose of Design

Sorry its been awhile since I have posted, nothing really creative has been going through my head lately. Well, I guess that not entirely true, there are several big projects I want to tackle but I have to wait till the weather and finances cooperate. In the meantime I thought I'd start a Design School 101 series. Its hard to believe but I've been out of school for almost five years now and I feel like I need a refresher course, so I'm going to dust off my old text books and reteach myself the basics. So if anyone has ever been curious about the science behind design, here is your sneak peak into how the interior designers brain works.

For this first installment we are going to talk about the purpose of design. In the modern world we live in most of our environment in man made. Every space we enter is created for a purpose. Your bedroom is a place created for sleep and relaxation, your living room for family gatherings and entertainment, a kitchen for preparation of food. (you get the idea.) The first and most important thing to consider in any space is the function of that space. What will it be used for? Is the size adequate? Is there convenient circulation? Is the lighting and acoustics adequate? Unless the function is addressed, no matter how beautiful it may look, you don't have a well designed space.

Once the function is addressed you can move onto the materials for the space. Once again, when choosing materials the function is the most important consideration. Will the material function for the intended use? As I have learned the hard way, a stainless steel refrigerator, although aesthetically beautiful, may not be the best choice for a family with small children and grimy fingers. Is the material appropriate for the environment? You will not choose the same type of materials for a mountain cabin as you'd choose for a house by the ocean. Is the cost appropriate? Silk curtains that cost several hundred dollars are not appropriate in a playroom.

Once the function of the space is addressed, and the appropriate type of material chosen, then you move on to the aesthetic. Is it visually appealing? Does it create the intended mood or feeling? Once again, the function is always considered with every design decision made.

Lets put it all together now with the example of a bedroom. First we clearly define the purpose of the space. It is a space for sleep and relaxation. We than consider every activity that takes place. Do you read in bed? Do you watch TV? Is there proper lighting control? Do you have adequate storage? Once you get the basic function down then we pick the materials. Is the bedding washable? Are the bedside tables and dresser well made and durable? Do the window treatment provided the needed light control? And last the aesthetic. Are the fabrics and colors conducive to relaxation. Is the furniture aesthetically pleasing. Once all these combine we have a well designed space.

A favorite saying among designer is "form follows function." It is the most basic thing to remember in creating well designed spaces. One of my favorite quotes from my text book says "In an ideal world, every space that we enter and use would be designed not only to serve its purpose well but also to offer a visual experience that would be appropriate, satisfying, and even memorable." And that my friends is the purpose of design.

I know most of this is really basic and we all probably do this on a subconscious level anyway, but hopefully being made aware of it will help you look at your spaces and analyze your thought process a little differently.

Our next installment of Design School 101 will be about the elements of design. So stay tuned!

All photos used in this post are from the House Beautiful photo gallery.


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