Archive for the ‘Psychology of Design’ Category


The Interior Dimension

October 26, 2008

In searching for a direction to structure my blog, I decided to pick up a book that I used in one of my classes.  The Interior Dimension, by Joy Malnar and Frank Vodvarka, is a book on the theory of enclosed space.  I chose this book for a couple of reasons.  First, all we read in class was excerpts, and I have intended to finish “one of these days”.  Second, it was fairly difficult reading. It is packed full with information or “pithy” as my former music theory professor would say.  I will read a section or two and then respond.

The book starts by quoting an old french saying: Tel le logis, tel le maître, which translates “As is the house, so is the master”.  We all feel as if we have some level of control over the spaces in which we live.  We can change them around at will.  What we often overlook is how much control our spaces exert over us.  We are shaped, psychologically and emotionally, by the spaces we inhabit.  I didn’t understand this phenomon until I moved out of the house in which I grew up.  It felt almost as if I were leaving a family member behind.  

It is interesting to note how a building has two distinct natures.  From outside the physical structure of a building is an object in space, whereas inside the structure itself is seen as a background for other objects.  This distinction is important because each must be treated differently when designing.  A designer needs to marry the two halves into a unified whole.  A large building might be imposing on the outside, yet be filled with small, confining spaces.  This will create an uncomfortable shift in perception in the users of that building.

Finally, a question.  Do you agree with the statement, “As is the house, so is the master”?  Can you recall any experience of an interior space which felt off or out of place in any way?  Likewise, can you recall any interior which just felt right?