MAKE-BELIEVE in INTERIOR DESIGN

Post -by Gautam Shah

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Interior spaces result as an organization of spatial configurations for specific conditions of environment, beliefs and group behaviour dynamics. However, for circumstantial reasons, it is not always feasible to achieve a perfect set in a given space, for the available technology and in required time. To overcome such deficiencies Interior spaces are endowed with make-believe inputs or effects.

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The ‘make-believe’ is an economical substitute for the original or hypothetical entity (time, extent, money, effort). The ‘make-believe’ also offers an exciting tool for creation of new experiences.

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We strongly associate specific experiences with entities like materials, technologies, spatial scaling such as size, proportions, texture, colour, illumination, frequency and schedules of occurrence etc. or temporal skewing like enhancing or delaying the event. However, for make-believe, such experiences are created by substituting the nominal entities with different materials and technologies, spatial scaling or time skewing. When the predictable effects fail to arrive in the nominal context, or arrive in spite of a different situation a delusion occurs. Make-believe effects are almost magical or ethereal, and defy logic or reason.

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For example, our nominal experience tells us that dark spaces are cooler and quieter, and conversely bright spaces are noisier and warmer, but such expectations are sought to be replaced in maze and adventure tunnels of children parks. Night clubs are darker but noisier and prayer areas are brighter and yet quieter.

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We are generally conditioned by predictable effects of the traditional or known materials. However, when we discover that any peculiar configuration or additional input creates an experience that is different from the one that is predictable, and we get a tool for a make-believe effect.

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Mirrors play a very important role in creation of duplicate spaces. We are conditioned by the fact that load-bearing walls are opaque, so a glass wall seems different. Till recently transparent material like glass was flat and stiff plate, but plastics now allow two way curvatures, and can also be flexible. Rooms other than the nominal square or rectangular shape provide an unusual experience. Echoes and reverberation of sound provide predictable space dimensions, but different perception gives unusual experience of the space. Lights and shadows mould the visible space. Ionized air endows a garden like freshness in an otherwise stifled space. Indian epic Maha-Bharat mentions of a Laksha Griha (literally a house of Lac or wax), a place where solid looking floors were water surfaces, and water surfaces were real floors.

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A society by a tacit understanding accepts certain words, signs metaphors, and indications as allowable and non allowable actions (warnings, danger, caution, etc.). When such commonly acceptable norms are displayed, they function almost like a real barricade. Signs like Caution, Danger, ‘Do not trespass’, ‘keep off the grass’, etc. operate as barriers. Metaphysical barricades are indicative and unreal, or make-believe. Make-believe barriers exploit the instinctive associations and conditioning of physiological and mental faculties.

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In real life we do use the stage like make-believe and indicative effects. We use these to create situations that are called ‘dramatic or melodramatic’. Discotheques, Night Clubs, Amusement Parks, etc., are places where such make-believe effects are extensively exploited.

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SPACE PLANNING by Visual and Non-visual means

Post -by Gautam Shah

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The personalization of a space achieved through visual means is very obvious as much as it is effective. However, use of non-visual sensorial effects for personalization of space are very subtle but equally effective. Non-visual sensorial effects are not easy to perceive, record, communicate and express.

640px-Standen_InteriorProfessional designers, in their conventional space planning, give consideration to parameters like auditory, olfactory, tactile and atmospheric factors such as the temperature and moisture, etc. This is because many of the visual means also provide non-visual sensorial effects, at specific position and under certain circumstances.

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A lay person improvising own spaces finds it very difficult to replicate the use of non-visual sensorial effects. A lay person considers non visual sensorial effects at best as the reinforcing elements to visual means.

For professional designers as well as lay persons, the judgements on these counts are often speculative because effective results derive from accumulation of several factors.

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  • For example, Visual and Auditory senses work in consonance, as both have a sense of scale and direction. In space planning one provides the clue about the other.

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  • The selection and placement of furniture, furnishings and enrichments can change the visual space perception, whereas the surface treatments of the same elements can change the audio response.
  • Tactile sense requires one to be in proximity of the surface, yet the textures, nature of construction (hollow, foamed, micro undulations), etc. prompt the auditory response from a distance, and so pre-empt the perception.

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  • Odours are perceived with air and its movements. Enclosed rooms filter the noise but reduce the chances of fresh air. This translates into ‘smelly or stagnant space’. A designer has to perceive a space planning layout with all these overlapping sensorial perceptions, and also notions people have about it.

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Other parameters such as the privacy, intimacy, well being, safety, security, seclusion and participation, are achieved through sensible space planning, but need space and time reinforcement through indicative means.

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The purposes of space elements, their placement, composition, shape or size, are not very apparent to a casual visitor. However, such effects become apparent on the required occasion and situation with non-visual reinforcements.

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