Interior Design for the Human Spirit

The four sacred principles for design-

How to create harmonious environments

Scale, Proportion, Relationship, and Context

All architecture is based on the human form. All human beings, even primitive ones, eat, sleep, walk and converse. All architecture and furnishings reflect these human activities. Civilized human beings attempt to perform these activities with some degree of grace and harmony.

Over the millennia, harmonious proportions and relationships between human beings and their built environment have been studied, recorded and documented. When Leonardo da Vinci drew his “Vitruvious man”, he was echoing archetypal principles, which had already been discovered by the ancient Romans and Greeks.

The ancient Greeks believed in sacred geometry and harmonious relationships of octaves based on the seventh in the musical scale, as well as fourths and fifths that produced the so-called music of the spheres. Sacred geometry extended to the built environment, and it was believed that divinity created through geometry.

The ancient Chinese also believed in harmonious relationships between human beings and our built environment and established an elaborate system of synchronizations through the practice of Feng-sui.

So where does that put us in modern and contemporary society? Why do we look at endless arrangements of furnishings and buildings as if anything new could be created? It is necessary for a human body to sit- therefore it is inevitable that a chair would be created. It is necessary for a human body to sleep, therefore it is inevitable that a bed would be created. It is necessary for a human being to converse with other human beings, therefore two seats must be positioned for conversation to occur. We must eat, therefore we must have eating utensils, and by extrapolation, tables. If all of these furnishings are to be placed in a useful, pleasing and harmonious relationship to each other and to the human beings who use the furnishings, we then have interior design. Our endless fascination with the built environment is also indeed inevitable, after all, it is the reflection of ourselves- our body, soul and mind. Interior design and architecture has very little to do with “style” and “taste” and “money” as modern publications would want us believe. In reality interior design and architecture has to do with much deeper and inescapable expressions of the human psyche, body and soul.

That is why interior design for the human spirit is a pressing psychological and physical need in contemporary society, and that is why I am writing this document.

Let us start with scale….

The first sacred principle for design is Scale.

An infant is tiny. We place our infants in furniture that is scaled down to their tiny proportions, cribs and cradles and high chairs. Looking at an infant in a king-sized bed is comical, and perhaps even unsafe. In order for the infant to be safe and comfortable, they must be placed in surroundings scaled to their size. So we can see that scale is of the utmost importance in architecture and furnishings. Why are most standard door openings 6’8″ high? Because most adult human beings stand under 6’2″ tall. This is not to say that there are not exceptions to the rule, but for the most part, the 6″8″ door opening is scaled to the prevalent human proportions of our society. So after millennia of research into human proportion, we finally have agreed upon a modern standard for a door opening. Of course, if we wish to have a more imposing door, perhaps we will make it 8 feet tall. A cathedral or public space may have grand doors that are 10′ tall. But of necessity we will feel most comfortable with a doorway that is scaled to our proportions, and we discovered this many millennia ago. So scale is of the utmost importance when designing for human beings. It is important because it is one of the four sacred principles of design.

Let us continue with proportion ….

Proportion is similar to scale. But proportion has to do with the relationships of parts to the whole, while as scale has to do with the relationship of the whole to a greater whole. A well proportioned chair maintains its ratios and proportions whether the entire object is scaled larger or smaller. So with proportion we examine the parts to the whole, and with scale we examine the entire object as regards its greater environment. And architecture reflects the proportions and scale of the human body. Proportion is another of the four sacred principles of design.

Let us continue with relationship . . .

Everything in the built world exists in some relationship to something else. As a matter of fact, everything in life relates to some aspect of something else. Without relationship, we have no method for comparison. All of our perceptions of size relate to one object in relation to another object. So even if an object is perfectly proportioned and scaled to its environment, if it is not in proper relationship to other objects in the environment, things will look disjointed and goofy.

Let us continue with context . . .

In speaking and writing, we have a context for our descriptions. A narrative that is taken out of context can seem completely irrelevant if not false. Every environment has a narrative, a story it tells. So the architecture and design of a space speaks a narrative to us as we enter and look around. The site and the exterior architecture should tell us something of the interior space. In our own home, the interior space should speak to us of our deepest longings and fulfill our deepest aspirations. But there must be context. A single persons home may reflect their personality entirely, while a family home with four children may speak of that context, and perhaps the narrative would be completely inappropriate for the single person. All of these considerations must be invoked when designing space.

A methodology for creating harmonious interiors

1. You must determine the scale of what you hope to accomplish.

2. You must determine the proportions of what you hope to accomplish.

3. You must determine the relationship of your project to yourself, your significant others, your community, and the world at large.

4. You must determine the context of your project in relation to your personal narrative.

Your first plans should be done in black and white with rudimentary measurements. You are looking for scale and proportion, not a finished product. In the second stage, you can start filling in actual color, products, and specifications. In the third stage, you edit. Everything that does not enhance your narrative needs to be edited out. In the fourth stage, you actually build, install and finish.

The process of design should be uplifting and creative, not stressful and money-oriented. When you truly have realized a harmonious plan, you should feel that all of your emotional and financial energies have been well spent. In regards to this, a talented designer should also make you feel like your money and efforts have been well spent.

Marie Minnich, Allied ASID
Interior Designer

New Zealand Interior Design

In terms of architecture and interior design, New Zealand is a relatively young country when you compare it to the likes of America and England. The design choices, both interior and exterior, have traditionally mirrored that of the countries where most migrants originated from – predominantly the Pacific and Europe. However, over the last few decades New Zealand has developed its own tastes and architectural design elements that blend together the built environment and the unique surrounding natural environment. To compliment this style, interior design has also changed. New Zealand has created its own style that celebrates its heritage, and combined it with modern touches and creative flamboyance.

If you look back to the first half of the 20th Century, New Zealand homes were decorated very sparsely. Traditionally interior decorating included antique furniture, floral print fabrics, fine bone china and sparsely decorated rooms. By the 1940′s state housing was predominant and interior decorating remained minimal.

Post-war immigration during 1950′s could be seen as a starting point for subtle changes to our interior design choices. New Zealand experienced a large influx of immigrants leaving post-war Europe, including architects who brought with them the principles of the ‘modern’ architectural movement. At this stage Scandinavian designs were also taking the world by storm – both for exterior design and interior wooden pieces.

The 1960′s and 1970′s saw the beginning of more Pacific influences in design. Colourful and adventurous fabrics started to make their way into New Zealand homes. These fabrics complemented the new ‘open plan’ living and ‘indoor-outdoor’ flow of homes that started to emerge during the 1970′s. At this stage New Zealand’s distinct design tastes began to emerge.

By the 1980′s there were a broad range of architectural styles available – colonial, American colonial, Cape Cod, Ranch, Swiss, Japanese and English country, Mediterranean, to name a few. As a result interior design also started to become more creative, and many consider the mid-1980′s as the coming of age of interior design in New Zealand.

Over the next three decades New Zealand homes became truly international. All designs were tried, and architects also started to construct houses to fit New Zealand’s unique environment. Homes were built to maximise sunlight with main living areas facing north, allowing more natural light. The open-plan look became the most popular with less internal walls and better flow, again taking advantage of natural light. And New Zealand’s popular pastime of entertaining around the barbecue meant the popular indoor-outdoor flow was here to stay.

As a result, interior design changed also. Over the next three decades designers mixed all the cultural influences of European and Asian migrants with Maori and Pacific design, to emerge with what has become a distinct New Zealand style. Many homes started using fabrics and patterns that mixed outdoor elements with indoor décor colours. Interior designers combined different patterns and textures to bring homes to life.

Now you will find a mix of interior design choices in New Zealand homes. Floral, stripes, Maori koru and weaves, earthy tones and bright pacific colours all cleverly blended together to create a unique style. As well as the popular Pacific theme, many modern homes combine classic or antique pieces with modern décor, and retro interiors are also currently in vogue. Fabrics range from classic linen, cotton, and silk to new fabrics such as bamboo, merino and possum fur (sourced in New Zealand).

This comfortable blend of Pacific, Asian and European styles celebrates New Zealand’s cultural heritage. Combined with modern touches and creative flamboyance, New Zealand has truly created its own unique architecture and interior design.

Interior Design Tips and Ideas

In the last few years, many colleges have opened up to help enthusiastic students understand the intricacies of exceptional interior designs. Besides students, it is also important for homeowners to look for some tips and ideas to make their home look perfect. Whether you need to remodel or improve the basic look of your home, these interior design ideas will be perfect for your home. According to most professional interior designers, these ideas are going to be the most popular trends in 2014.

Saturated Colours – This is one of the best ideas to give your home a modern and rich look. A surge of saturated colours, like plum and navy, can completely change the entire look of your home. In fact, most designers believe that navy is already the latest neutral. It can easily blend with many other designs, styles and colours. If you’re quite hesitant to apply dark colours on your walls, you can consider adding a sectional or sofa in a rich plum or navy tone. This focal piece will be able to accent your room.

Metal Backsplashes – The days of painted walls and bright tiles behind your kitchen counter are long gone. They are quickly being replaced with easier to maintain and sleeker metal backsplashes. Recently, designers have been choosing everything from aluminium to stainless steel to give an exclusive look to kitchens. In fact, some designers also use stone slabs and glasses for more durable wall coverings around food preparation areas.

Macramé & Fibre Wall Hangings – Fibre wall hangings can easily add more texture to your walls. According to most interior designers, this is going to be the hottest trend this year. Some industry experts also feel that fibre wall hangings and macramé are like sculpture for the wall. They will be able to replace art pieces or wallpaper that homeowners cannot afford.

While some designers are considering it a flashback from the 1970s, others see it as a fresh and new trend. When it comes to wall pattern interior designs, Venetian Marbled prints are also getting popular. They can be found on end papers of some old books. These patterns can give a rich look to the room. Many designers have been using them for linens and wallpapers.

Window Sheers – These days, people are avoiding heavy drapes. People want lighter and brighter rooms. Therefore, some new versions of window sheers are getting more popular. These versions are made of wool or linen. A basic version of window sheers made of wool voile can look perfect with inverted box pleats.

Bathroom Trends – According to interior designers, two trends will definitely grow related to bathroom decor. In order to focus on simplistic interior designs, people are gradually eliminating bathtubs.

Most people are installing large, curbless showers for a better bathing experience. Similarly, multi speed jets are also being replaced by hand held shower heads. For people who still want bathtubs, freestanding bathtubs are getting more popular. They take lesser space and give your bathroom a unique look.

These were some of the most popular interior design tips and ideas for the coming year. With these interior designs, you will be able to enhance the overall look of your home, and make it more aesthetically pleasing.