INSIDE Our Buildings, Inside Ourselves

From our Ideas+Buildings Blog

For the first portion of my career as an interior designer, I concentrated on my work and my clients.  That all changed 13 years ago, when 9/11 happened.  All of a sudden, in one momentous instant, across practices, disciplines and demographics, the design community in New York was thrust into a public dialogue about how we could impact rebuilding a better city. This broadened my personal perspective about how design has the power to intersect with people’s lives at all scales.

This makes me believe that interior design is much more similar to urban design than to ‘decoration,’ as it is commonly perceived.  Similar to urban design, interior design is personally experienced at a sensory level, by affecting the public and its community.  Further similarities: it concerns the field of a map ( internal, in this case) rather than the exterior of a single object; its creation requires the consensus of many stakeholders; circulation patterns, use and adjacencies, organizations of hierarchy and networks, and sustainability (to name a few common to both endeavors) are thrown into the mix required for a truly excellent design.

As I was assisting curating and editing INSIDE: Interior Spaces by Perkins+Will, the new compendium of Perkins+Will’s best interior design, I reviewed hundreds of projects across all markets. The work that stood out had a common thread: from the moment of stepping inside a space, they truly touched individuals by creating an inspirational and emotional experience.  In this light, interior design makes us advocates and activists: we create better cities and towns through the spaces people inhabit on a daily basis– for work, learning, healing, community and culture.

Every day, our children spend time inside their schools and most adults are inside at work.  We are inside restaurants, theaters, bars, museums and sports facilities.  At day’s end, we return to the insides of our homes. When we are not well, we go inside a hospital to heal. These millions of square feet of inside space are where people spend the majority of their time, and where we can make a difference in how they live.

As time marches on and progress brings developments in technology, energy production and conservation, and social organization, we must find a way to translate these rationally into our physical surroundings.  As interior designers, we are not specialists.  We are integrators of multiple, complex strands of information. We have the ability to interpret these seemingly random facts and create a powerful, cohesive statement that speaks to the individuals who will inhabit the spaces we design.  When we are successful, we have a positive impact on quality of life that is both meaningful and long-lasting. 

Discover what’s going on INSIDE on Amazon.

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