Post 354 – by Gautam Shah



Enrichments are personal interventions in an interior space. These are extras over the nominal functional provisions of space planning. Enrichments are used by professional designers as well as lay occupiers of the space. Professionals use it to enhance the thematic concept. These efforts, however, often lack the conviction for the actual occupier of the space. For lay persons enrichments evolve with the familiarity of space and mature over a long period. Enrichments are a subjective involvement of the user, reflected in the selection and placement of the enrichment. The selection follows traditions, taboos, customs, instincts, experience, perceptions, daring, suggestions and compulsions. The enrichments become a matured style of the locality or a group, an ethnicity of an era or a geographical identity.


Empire State Plaza concourse NY USA

Enrichments are selected for their own quality or appeal, and also as fitment to a given situation. By placing an element that is personal and familiar, there is an attempt to alter the scale, complexity and alienation of the space.

Enrichments are expressions that reduce the alienation, loneliness, and the incidence undesirable or severity of abnormal behaviour.


Personalization through enrichments occurs by many routes. Enrichments may not have a precise definition or explanation, but over a period gain an identity. The identification is achieved by confirmation to an ideology, expression of abstracted messages, display of authority, and being part of hierarchal structure. Enrichments represent cultural affinity, affirmation to a social cause (e.g. green spaces), a diffusion or concentration of an ideology, spiritual experience, history, continuity, or desire for contrast or diversity. Presence of some enrichments encourages the group dynamics with a sense of belonging. Enriched spaces have safety, security and assurance of performance.

White House Dining room

Enrichments are means of personalization of a space. Installation or removal of the enrichments does not affect the utilitarian value of a space. Enrichments do serve a decorative and metaphoric purpose. Enrichments are extremely personal and frequently replaceable, so are transient entities. Some functional entities like bolsters, cushions, dusters, etc. are items of comfort but are accepted as enrichments. Enrichments are items of expression through their shape, form, scale, colour, texture, patterns, composition, symbolism, position or location, relationship with other objects.


Enrichments are:

  • Objects that can be savoured from many sides and contexts, such as vessels, utensils, statues.
  • Surfaces like paintings, murals, wall pieces, posters, mirrors, glass, patterns, that enhance the floors, walls or ceilings or become partitions.
  • Furniture to aid postures, task supports, storage entities, space intervening objects, furnishings like carpets, bolsters and curtains.
  • Hangings to fill up a space, mark a location, add dynamism, movement or change the static, reflects the ethereal or non-physical.
  • Fittings and Fixtures that add to functionality of architectonic elements.
  • Signage and Graphics to convey messages, indicate layout, symbols.
  • Sensorial effects such as Illumination, odours, deodorants, textures, climatic effects (heating, cooling, moisturising), colours.



The schema for enrichments originates through several sources like media, inter-personal interactions, print media, TV, cultural heritage, caste, religion, locale, region, pride, leisure time, motivation and competition. It is also supported by desire to add on the convenience offered over industrially produced standard goods, love for artistic intervention or crafty manipulation, experimentation, innovation, improvisation, upgrade, repairs, etc.


Enrichments are added by a person, members of the family or leaders and members of a group. The theme, as a result inevitably has one or singular ’authorship’ and consistency of concept. This reflects in the unified effort. There is a continuous thread of concept, form, colour pallets, patterns, placement, symbolism, etc. Occasionally enrichments that are radically different also occur in such spaces, but over a period of time, odd things get accommodated. Even where a next generation inherits the space entity, their responses are nearly consistent, and something of the past survives or is consciously continued. When a person or family migrate to new environments, the new place carries the imprints of the old. In many instances (for example Asian-Indian homes in USA) transmit it more intensely. Where space designing is outsourced to professionals a new vocabulary of enrichment arrives, but these too get domesticated or personalized. Such personalization occurs through re-siting, re-orientation, and new contextual composition. In few instances it may awaken new lifestyles, but something of the past always reappears.


Enrichments affect the behaviour very mildly but persistently. The cumulative change over a period of time is far greater in content and extent. The enrichments reflect the personalization, so are very comforting and assuring. It represents the author and an age, and reminds the contribution of the author or the era. Enrichments add to the micro levels of comfort without destroying the standard scheme of the space. Enrichments customize a space circumstantially, according to local environmental needs, personal choices and tasks. Enrichments are self created and installed so their repair, alterations and replacement are within the personal ambit of skills and time management. Enrichments are demountable and transferable, so remain personal assets.


WorldSkills Sao Paulo 2015.

Enrichments are extensively used by retail outlets that rely on brand selling, and corporates who thrive on image making. Automobile showrooms flourish with superfluous space enrichments, because by the time some mature integration occurs, a new set of entities arrive. Compared to this corporate offices and hospitality spaces have well-integrated schemes. Other public spaces like museums, law courts, halls, etc. use enrichments very judiciously disguising as graphics or signage. Religious and political functions and processions use enrichments pretentiously to show their large following.

The Mensa (Cafeteria) BAUHAUS





Pole Ahmedabad

An Interior space is bounded and a well-defined envelope. Yet with the environmental variations outside, it is an ever-changing enigma. The inhabitants have to develop a dynamic approach to sustain their occupation of the space and continue the inhabitation. The approach to accommodate can be categorized in Four layers.


1 Very minor changes are accommodated at personal and passive level, i.e. recasting of the lifestyle, body posturing, metabolic activity, rescheduling, etc.

2 At micro level the changes are absorbed by activities like repositioning of the furniture and facilities, establishing improved amenities, etc.

3 At macro level the changes are assimilated in terms of additions, alterations, renovations, etc. in the built form.

4 At a radical level the changes may force recasting of the group-dynamics (treaties, friendship, divorce, etc.), or migration to new locations.


The accommodation of environmental changes delays and disturbs the inhabitation but always equips one with better skills and greater efficiencies. Communities that follow self-help building practices follow an inherited regimen that is well set and fail-safe in the community. The community here ensures the consistency of the locality and social behaviour. This contrasts with inhabitation attempts by migrants who at one end have no vernacular heritage to rely on, and at the other extreme are trying to establish their ‘footprint’ into a new setting.

A professional interior designer forms an interior space, incorporating all the conceivable variables, so as to make it as widely relevant (and also static) as possible. Designers also endeavour to instill certain ‘life style’ into the inhabitants -often called a design statement. Such professionally designed interiors, however do not escape the effects of changing environment. In spite of the best of intentions and efforts very often the user fails to behave as perceived, or responds ambiguously to the interior space. Interior space behaviour remains incredulous.

In public housing a standard design is exploited differently by various families. The same modular offices, cabins or hotel rooms arouse different feelings. Personalization of interior space is a continuing activity of the user. Long used or familiar spaces, seem very secure and comfortable with personalization. Whereas in new spaces, a user seeks familiarity of form, utilities, equipments, furniture, furnishings, environment, and presence of known participants or co-habitants.

An Interior space is designed by professional designer for a certain life style (behaviour standards). The primary intention is to create a setting that inculcates a specific response. The user may or need not be aware of such intentions. Interior spaces are also devised to alienate users from the expected set of things. Such diversions are designed to excite, to register the change (end of old and arrival of new), and also to destabilize the users.