The first theme that I think accurately sums up what I have learned over the course of the semester as a non-major is the theme of experience. Experience was one of our units that we first studied. I was very new to the idea of studying the history and theories of interior environments and when we learned about experience it really interested me. Experience is such a big part of interior spaces because the way a space is created effects someone’s experience greatly. Everything from proportions to lighting and even smells are how experiences are created when entering a space. We had an experience assignment where we were to choose an interior space that was unfamiliar to us or where we don’t spend much time and then describe how the interiors effected us and what experience that space gave us. The theme of experience is key to this class because without experiences all interiors would feel the same. The image that I have chosen to represent experience is a picture of an Egyptian temple. The large scale of the buildings in comparison to the small humans is on purpose because the temples are meant to show how powerful the Egyptians are. This just goes to show how size and proportions greatly impact one’s experience.
Another key theme for the history and theories of interior environments is the theme representation. We had a whole unit of the idea of representation in interiors so I think it is fitting to make it a key theme. Representation in interiors can mean many things. One thing it can mean is a designer actually representing themselves through their own individual style and selections to their client. Representation can be how that designer presents themselves through their interior finishes and furnishings. The theme of representation can also be how one furnishing from a historic time period is brought back and used today in the modern world. For example, we see the use of Victorian style patterns on chairs and furniture that is created in a modern way but still representing the original era that it came from. The image I have chosen is a chair that can be found in a current furniture magazine or seen in someone’s home today as a normal looking chair. But the chair is actually a modernized version of a Victorian chair. This theme of taking old styles and re-creating them for the world today is a way of representing the past.
After thinking more about what themes would sum up the semester of the history and theories of interior environments, I thought the theme of light would be sufficient. Lighting is a major key in interior environments because it can create an experience or a mood. Natural lighting used to be the only source of lighting, obviously, before electricity was created so this meant that interiors were created around windows and openings to allow light to come in a room. Natural lighting effected spaces because people could only be in rooms and do things during the hours where there was sunlight and the mood would depend on how bright/dim the sun was at the moment. Once electricity was invented this changed interior spaces and how they functioned. Lighting in general is such a big part of interior environments because it can create experiences and effect the senses. If a room has minimal lighting then that room may give off a mysterious and dark feeling compared to a bright, light colored room that may give off a light and airy feeling. With windows and artificial lighting, there are endless ways to create light or dark interior spaces. That is why I have chosen an image of a simple bright room to show how lighting can create a clear and clean look.
Another theme that I believe sums up what I have learned over the course of the semester is the theme of materials. Materials are what make up everything in an interior space aside from the negative spaces. Materials are chosen in a specific way to show finishes and furniture. A designer may want to create a room with all wooden materials or all metal materials and this can greatly effect what a room looks like and how it feels to a person looking at it. Materials can also create a literal feeling in an interior environment. For example with furnishings a designer may want to create a very soft and plush space so they will select soft furniture that is comfortable for the client. A designer may also want to create a more simple and conservative space by choosing very clean and sharp materials for the space to create a feeling of sophistication. The image I have chosen shows how an interior space with wooden materials gives off a unique look.
The last theme that I think accurately sums up the study of history and theories of interior environments if the theme of story telling. Throughout lectures we have heard about how interiors have been know to tell stories. This is especially seen through finishes such as art because artwork can literally tell a story. Over the semester we even looked at different art pieces and learned how they reflect certain eras and powers. For example, we looked at an American piece and the debate over whether or not it truly lived up to the name “American guided by wisdom”. I feel that story telling is such a big part of the study of interiors because without unique stories we would not have the knowledge that we have today on interiors and how they were created and individualized. I have chosen the picture of art that we reflected on in our class because it really does tell a story with the way it was created and designed. We analyzed the format of the picture and how the different sizes and emphasis on sides related to power and wisdom.
With the history of interior design, one of themes that was noted in the lecture that I find to be true of a major theme is settlements. Throughout history there have always been buildings and settlements that are created to show power or dominance or even just security. We have seen how there are barriers around historic settlements to keep others out and be an exclusive place. We have also seen how many of these ancient settlements seem to ascend and get higher and higher which is a sign of reaching to a higher power or in some cases a religious power. In talking about those boundary markings, the lecture gave the great example of the Great Wall of China which is one of the most iconic examples of boundary markings through building. There were also examples of circular boundaries which may have represented religious gatherings that were exclusive. The study of interiors and buildings have greatly been impacted by the way buildings used to be built with their boundaries and exclusiveness. In the world today we can still see how status is impacted by exclusiveness and privacy. The theme ‘settlements’ works well as the first theme of the history of interiors because it is the basic building block for the rest of design to build off of.
Another theme that I think accurately depicts the history and theory of interior environments is the theme of gender. When I say the theme ‘gender’ I am talking about how the way buildings, furniture, finishes, etc. used to be different for men and women due to power and cultural elements. Looking at Egypt is a very informative way to see how gender played a role in the evolution of interiors because Egyptians were the pioneers for much of the furnishings we see in our world today. Men and women in Egypt were looked at in very different ways with men being the higher power and women having a much lesser role during the time. An example of this would be the chairs we studied when we looked at the history of furnishings. We saw pictures of Egyptian chairs and how the men’s chairs had backs and armrests and women’s chairs were very simple and just a stool. This theme of gender evolved in other time periods too. An example of this would be with royalty. The sight of the throne is easily recognizable by the size and lavishness of the chair of the King while the throne of the of the queen is less extravagant.
Another theme that I think describes the history and theory of interior environments is building type. In the online lecture we went over how there are different building types throughout the ages that represent different styles, statuses, and time periods. In the lecture Patrick discussed how in Rome the building types played a huge role in society. For example the Colosseum in Rome is a very specifically made building to bring together the city in one building and hold gladiator festivities. The lecture also talked about there are different types of details on buildings. Patrick said that arches and columns were introduced to buildings as story telling details because the different columns and arches each depicted a different style and sometimes even had details around them that would actually tell a story. Building types and styles are a huge part of the history of interiors because if there weren’t different building styles we would not have the uniqueness of buildings in our world today. Different styles are what make people drawn to certain buildings and interiors. For my image I have chosen a picture of a Palladian home because this is a building type/style that is easily recognizable and has had such an impact of the field of design.
A theme that describes what we have learned throughout this course and depicts the history and theory of interior environments is the theme of motifs. Motifs are what make distinctions between different style periods and make interior finishes easily noticeable. Over this semester, as a non-major, I learned exactly what a motif was in interior design. I learned the motifs from the different cultures and time periods. For example, the lotus motif from the Egyptians. This motif can be found on ancient Egyptian furniture and finishes. The motifs throughout history are important for interior design today because they are still used for furniture and finishes today. A designer may use a Greek fret motif to finish a room or an Egyptian motif. We put such an emphasis on motifs in this class because details and finishes revolve around the design of motifs. After the activities and sketches we did with ancient motifs, I realized that many of the ancient motifs we studied are in my home and around me when I am walking to class and everywhere else in my world. That is why I feel the theme of motifs is such an important study of this class and for the study of interiors.
The final key theme that I feel describes what we learned over the course of the history of interiors and environments is the theme of innovation. The word ‘innovation’ itself is so important in the design world because the world is always being innovated with new technology and ideas and therefor design and interior design is also constantly innovating. From ancient architecture to modern day buildings we can see that building structures have changed and interior finishes have changed over time. Each style period has built off the period before them, whether that be perfecting an arch design or creating a new type of ceiling in a building. I think that innovation is a huge theme in this course. The use of technology has evolved over time and that has allowed for design to change with it. Lighting in interior environments used to be all from natural sources, but through technology and innovation over time electricity has become the source of light in interior spaces. Even with the use of textiles in interiors spaces, it has changed over time. Textiles were used on walls to preserve art work and keep rooms warm before there was electricity and heat. With innovation being a theme of this course, it makes me wonder what interior environments will consist of in the next 100 years.
I think that the brand Lululemon communicates well in terms of design. Lululemon is an athletic apparel line but the brand focuses on more than just clothes. This brand is dedicated to health and well-being and wanting customers to be good people all around. This brand says their most powerful branding work happens around community. In the picture above to the right the consumer can see that the brand wants to connect people through fitness and health. This image is on all of the bags shoppers get when purchasing something. The actual logo itself is designed to be easily recognized and spread the brand name. This logo can be found on all of the apparel sold so anyone who wears this brand can spread the brand name. In terms of design I feel that the logo is well made because of its symmetry and simplicity. Its symmetry and simplicity makes it easy for this brand to communicate with people and therefor be a successful brand that consumers use.
In Stewart Brand’s book called How Buildings Learn he wrote that buildings are inherently conservative meaning they do not change. He believes that buildings should be made in an adaptive way so they can be susceptible to change and adaption. He listed out the components of a building by site, structure, skin, services, space plan, and stuff (site changing the least and stuff changing the most). I agree with his list because I feel like stuff (the interior objects in a building) change the most and the actual site rarely changes. Materials that change quickly would be technology materials in a building because technology is always changing. Materials that change based off fashion would be furniture and accents that go with furniture like the fabrics and pillows, also light fixtures change to keep up with what’s new. Some materials are resistant to change like marble floors for example or classic art pieces. These are timeless items that could remain in a building.
In the movie If You Build It advocacy is shown through design because designers Emily and Matt go to Bertie, North Carolina and help students create designs and projects to benefit their community and teach them how to be architects/designers. They are all about having the students work with projects in a hands on experience way. The students created their own designs for a farmers market in their community. They created small models with their own hands and materials and then transformed those designs into even bigger models and eventually one student’s design was created as an actual building. Students learned skills like welding and carpentry as well as basic design drawing/sketching, and computer skills. All of this is a form of advocacy because Emily and Matt took their time to teach underprivileged high schoolers skills that will benefit them for the rest of their lives and give them goals. Emily and Matt did not get paid for any of it, it was simply them wanting to help this community. I think it is important to think of design in the form of advocacy because people who know design skills and tips should share with others their knowledge to benefit those around them. Design advocacy is only successful if information is being shared with others through communication and hands on activities to get other to know the skills behind design.
The object that I chose that is the Fitbit. I feel that this designed object is successful with its design for the interaction with human movement. It is successful because it is literally designed to track human movement and activity such as sleep tracking and steps taken each day. Fitbit’s are a very popular trend in the consumer world right now because so many people like how their activity can be monitored and displayed to them on a small wrist accessory. The design of the Fitbit is simple and it directly focuses on human movement which is what anthropometrics is all about. The Fitbit would not be successful if it didn’t work well with human movement and activity, but because so many people find this object beneficial the company is successful. Designers also have to study health factors, human movement, and human activity to create a successful product that consumers will enjoy. And I believe that the Fitbit has achieved this.
Today in class we heard from designer Rebekah Radtke. She is an assistant principal here at UK. She started class off asking us each individually what we thought about design and why we are here taking this class which I enjoyed because it was interactive. Rebekah explained that she wanted to be a designer when she was a teen and so she enrolled in interior design in college at UK. She applied to grad school to be a product designer but that didn’t work out so she ended up in architecture school where she got her master’s degree. She explained to us how she got into interior design and she said that interior design is really about people and being an advocate for people. Interior design focuses on people and meeting their design needs. We learned how design is very collaborative and design focuses a lot on working with others for projects. To her, design is also optimistic and experimental. She has worked with local community issues, fixing homes in poverty here in Lexington. Recently she has been working on a project called the Live Learn Studio where she communicates with students on the construction and living environment on campus. In terms of design she sees design in the future relying on the people here in this room (the students).
Next we heard from Anne Filson who is from the school of architecture here at UK. One project that she worked with was the Seattle Public Library. One of the first projects she worked with was the Netherlands Embassy in Berlin. She worked with a Dutch architect in the Netherlands as an architect. Her job is to create floor plans and designs for buildings and communicate those to the client. After she left the Netherlands she worked in Chicago working on the IIT campus center. “No design is bad design” is what Anne told us as she explained that anyone can create a design and go forward from there. She works for IDEO which holds workshops working with people to solve design problems. Environmentally, she is working to design a more eco-friendly way to create products locally rather than having products shipped from China to us.
Representation is used in many ways through the means of design. In this unit we talked about how certain types of buildings and architecture represented certain styles and powers. Over this semester I have noticed how design effects everything I look at from texts, drawings, images, and everything in between. Design impacts all of these things because the design of these elements makes them stand out in their own unique ways. The goal of designing something is to get the consumer to notice it. My views on the world and design have changed because now when I see an average traditional home like the one in the picture, I think about the design behind it and how that style of the home represents more than just bricks and materials. It is traditional because that is the style period it came from and it represents what consumers wanted at that time.
The first designer we heard from today was Adriane Grumbein. She is a teacher here at UK in Grehan teaching communications specifically with advertising. She got her undergrad in Texas and then started working with marketing, got her PHD in Florida and now she is here teaching at UK. She told us that we she was in undergrad school she started off taking art classes and realized it wasn’t for her so she switched to strategic communications with a minor in graphic design. She said that design to her means problem solving and working with clients to help them with their design needs and communicate that information with the clients. Art and design are different things to her; art is about evoking a feeling and design is about problem solving. Currently she is designing flyers for IPR and working with the creation of their new logo possibly. She even does wedding cards and save the date cards. As a designer she doesn’t have a specific style, her style is solving the client’s issues. In design today, design is becoming ‘big data’ and the designer is becoming the interpreter to get the data to the consumer in a presentable way. Personalization is also becoming more and more popular in design.
The second designer we heard from today was our TA, Julie Sniadowski. She is a graduate student from UK as an architecture student. Since she was a young child she has been taking art classes so she has always had an interest in art and even went to GSA as a sophomore in high school. She then started undergrad school at UK working with architecture. In undergrad school she learned more about the technicalities of design creating blueprints and sketches to create a space. She also studying abroad in Paris and Rome where she analyzed the architecture there and created design plans from their findings. Currently she is in the graduate program here where she is finding out how designers can remove toxins from the planet in different ways. Right now she is looking at drone designs and how those drones can be useful for the environment. She said she sees design in the future combining with more areas like science and math. She wrapped up by saying that after school she will get an internship and she eventually wants to work with green architecture and how design can work with the environment.