This TedTalk by Phoebe Oldrey talks about the importance of designing an interior space be it an office or a showroom or a residence. Nowadays the aesthetics of a space are given more importance compared to what it serves as a whole. As architects and interior designers, does it mean that the only purpose is about making interiors beautiful? 

Here Phoebe Oldrey answers this question. According to her, it’s not about the beauty or aesthetics of a space it is the purpose it serves. Does it cater to the programme or does it only cater to the need or aspirations of the client? 

TedTalk for Architects: Interior design is about more than wallpaper and bean bags by Phoebe Oldrey at TEDxRoyalTunbridgeWells - Sheet5
Phoebe Oldrey ⓒtedxroyalunbridgewells.com

Fulfilling the aspirations of the client can be tricky at times. She talks about how while designing the residences of the people she came across understanding this balance between aspirations and needs. The understanding of the word home has to be reimagined and reestablished. Home is not where one goes, rests and wakes up and gets back to work. It is something that is very personal to each and every individual. It is that sense of security we experience when we are home. It is said that a good hot shower can help one get over anything that’s bothering them. 

But have we thought about it in detail? Is it that hot shower? Or is it the fact that we are home in our bathroom under our shower head? For me personally, it is the fact that I am home, I am safe, I am in my cocoon. I am in a place surrounded by people and things who belong to me. 

The definition of home varies from person to person, as I mentioned earlier it is something very personal. This brings me a question that as designers do we understand this personal space? Are we catering to this personal emotion that varies from client to client? She talks about the concept of Hygge, explaining how one can achieve this.

She explains that while designing is it necessary to keep the concept of hygge in mind and design. This will help in bringing that emotion which one experiences when we are home. But does every space be it your home or work make you feel the same? For instance, if being home gives you a sense of belonging and security. Do you feel the same when you are at work, or at school or at a restaurant? 

A question arises here: What is it that makes you feel a space? What is it that makes you feel strong and opinionated at your office? What is it that makes you feel bubbly and cheerful in school? The answer to this question is the interiors of the space.

TedTalk for Architects: Interior design is about more than wallpaper and bean bags by Phoebe Oldrey at TEDxRoyalTunbridgeWells - Sheet1
Cosy home ⓒcosyhomeinteriors.com 

But how do we design these spaces which emote to its users? There are no guided set of rules which help you understand these emotions, nor each user will experience the same emotion. Nor will it be rational to consider each and every user and design considering those emotions or feelings. Here she answers and explains how she learned designing spaces that emote. 

But firstly how can you understand what you are designing is good or bad? Is it something that is making you feel content and satisfied? Or is it something that is hitting you in the eye, making you feel uncomfortable or uneasy or is difficult to use? Imagine it this way, the pen we use mainly has a cap and a body, or either we have to click at its back once and start writing, the simplicity in its design is enhancing the experience of writing. 

Now like in old ages, if you had to dip a feather in an inkpot to write every word, would you have felt the same enjoyment you felt in a pen? Maybe not, if I were at your place I would have got annoyed and lost patience. 

TedTalk for Architects: Interior design is about more than wallpaper and bean bags by Phoebe Oldrey at TEDxRoyalTunbridgeWells - Sheet2
Simplicity of a Pen ⓒwikipedia.org 

In the same way, how can we design interiors which are enhancing in nature and not irritating or impractical? Can this interior be more embracing and accepting? The answer to this question lies in a study and design of a kitchen done by Margarita Shooter Loki. She talks about the design process Margarita worked on for designing a kitchen space and the evolution of the kitchen in itself as a space. 

Nowadays, we have open kitchens that overlook the living or the dining space. Have we paid attention to the fact that it’s not just overlooking or preparing food it is also the centre of our home, life revolves around it? 

TedTalk for Architects: Interior design is about more than wallpaper and bean bags by Phoebe Oldrey at TEDxRoyalTunbridgeWells - Sheet3
Life in a kitchen ⓒhaecker-kuechen.com

She also explains in the later part, how to tackle large huge spaces? We cannot simply design a small part in that huge space and let the users experience it. Her analogy to design such spaces is known as the Goldilocks analogy. How to design these wide huge spaces that still make you feel content instead of vulnerable? She explains how our instincts help us perceive or use these large spaces. On the contrary, how do we perceive smaller spaces? Do they make us feel claustrophobic? 

She talks about the need for balance between these emotions and the scale of space. As designers, if space is vast and we have to make it welcoming, comfortable. And if a space is small we have to make it perceived as a huge, vast, comfortable, and usable space. A study is explained on the relation between color-prison-suicide. The use of colors in a space helps one feel the space, a play in emotions takes place with those colors.

TedTalk for Architects: Interior design is about more than wallpaper and bean bags by Phoebe Oldrey at TEDxRoyalTunbridgeWells - Sheet4
Dullness of a prison cell ⓒdeutsche welle.com

After understanding the emotional and physical side of designing she talks about the visual side, the artistic side by giving an example of Google’s London office, leaving us with these questions: is there anything in this office that does not fit in?  How can we decide what fits in an interior space and what we shouldn’t consider while designing? 

Kanchi Modi
Author

She is an architecture student , a dog lover , a travel enthusiast and a trekker. She is enthusiastic about writing and architecture so mixing both through architecture journalism. She has worked both in commercial architectural firms as well as a sustainable architecture firm and is juggling to find a balance between both.

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