Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Light and the Body

I always wondered why the weather would have an effect on my mood. When I wake up to sunshine, I feel energetic and cheerful, but on a dark dreary day, I feel very lazy and sluggish. Our moods vary in response to natural light, which is uplifting and therapeutic. This is why adequate lighting is an important aspect of a design. "A well designed lighting plan makes use of high levels of illumination to enhance energy and emotion and will provide low, subtle lighting to encourage relaxation and a mellow feeling" ("Interiors: an Introduction").

Effects on the mind and body

Large areas of bright light stimulate a physical and emotional surge of energy, which may cause fatigue after long periods of exposure. The mind becomes very bored and can sometimes cause a feeling of illness.
Moderate to low levels of light give an "inviting, cozy, intimate feeling". This type of lighting is accomplished with the use of dimmer switches and can often be found in restaurants. It also helps establish perimeter of a room and produces a sense of security.
 Colored light can also have an effect of a person. Warm white lights are welcoming and uplifting. Cool colored lights (blue, green, purple) produce a calm, restful environment, but can become "unfriendly, cold, and depressing" after prolonged exposure. Bright colors (red, orange, yellow) produce eyestrain, which leads to a feeling of physical exhaustion as the mind struggles with coping with the intensity ("Interiors: an Introduction").

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

SAD is a great example of how lighting can affect our mind and body. This disorder occurs when winter approaches and disappears as spring begins. The symptoms are as follows: lethargy, irritability, increased desire to sleep and eat.

Glare, an excessive light that causes irritation and fatigue, can also have negative effects on the mind and body. Dark areas surrounding lighted areas can cause eyestrain, fatigue, and even depression, as peripheral vision constantly has to deal with the drastic dark-bright contrast. We encounter glare every day, as we watch television or while we are driving, but there are a few ways to reduce glare.
  1. Window treatments, such as shades or blinds, block the light that comes from the sun.
  2. To reduce glare from artificial lighting, a person can lower their wattage usage, use a cool-beam lamp (type of light that is designed to redirect its heat away from the light beam), adjust the direction of the lighting source, or use baffles (a device such as a board or grid that deflects light, either to direct it or to prevent glare).

In one of my previous post "Making Theory a Reality", I talked about light and how it affects all the other elements of design, but I hope this post shed some light on the effects it has on the mind and body.

Work Cited

Nielsen, Karla, and David Taylor. Interiors: An Introduction. 5th ed. New York: Mc-Graw Hill, 2011. 109-111. Print.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

American Society of Interior Design

Throughout my blogging experience during the past few months, I have grown as a member of the Interior Design Community. The bloggers within this community have shared great ideas, innovative products, and amazing designs. Then it hit me. In the fall of last year, I was introduced to the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID). This is a huge community that is committed to the field. 

The American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) is a community of people - designers, industry representatives, educators, and students - committed to Interior Design. Through education, knowledge sharing, advocacy, community building and outreach, we strive to advance the Interior Design profession, and in the process, to demonstrate and celebrate the power of design to positively change people's lives.
Founded in 1975, ASID is the oldest and largest professional organization for Interior Designers. There are 16,000 practicing Interior Designers that work in all areas of commercial and residential design. ASID industry partners include more than 2,200 member firms with 6,500 individual representatives (ASID).


There are many benefits in becoming an ASID member. As a member, you are able access to the ASID Job Bank, a listing of employment opprotunities for designers. This list can be used by designers seeking work or by employees seeking designers. Also as a member, you are connected to other ASID members through a member-only website. This site includes chat rooms, forums, online directories, and message boards (ASID).

Student Chapters

There are currently 7,500 student ASID members.  ASID has more then 250 student chapters at various colleges, universities, and design schools with 2-year and 4-year programs throughout the U.S, as well as "virtual" chapters throughout online institutions. 

Ther biggest benefit to becoming an ASID member is the building of new relationships with other members. These people have the same interest and career goals. They learn from each other, help one another, and grow together. I learned in my previous Interior Design class that it is all about networking, because you never know how can help you in the long run.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

The Art of Feng Shui

"Feng Shui (pronounced “fung shway”) is an ancient Chinese art whose name translates from the Chinese as “wind and water”. Feng Shui is a lyrical phrase that poetically evokes the heart of this ancient practice." -Spiritual Feng Shui

The ancient art and science of Feng Shui was developed over 3,000 years ago in China ("What is Feng Shui?").  It is believed that practicing this ancient art will promote a great balance of energy and assure good health. Wind and water (two of nature's elements) are the driving forces of Feng Shui practices and techniques, filling ones' space with positive energy ("What is Feng Shui?"). In Chinese culture, wind and water are associated with good health (good Feng Shui brings good fortune). If one doesn't practice good Feng Shui however, it is considered to be bad luck ("What is Feng Shui?").

 "Feng shui is based on the Taoist vision and understanding of nature, particularly on the idea that the land is alive and filled with Chi, or energy."
Feng Shui was born out of thereligion and "philosophical system" of Taoism. Established in China, thisreligion/philosophy revolved around the worship of nature ("Tao and Chi"). Whenever the followers of Taoism would get stressed out from life,they would retreat back to nature, giving them time to rest and heal ("Taoand Chi"). During this time, they would consume themselves with theirhobbies in efforts to lift their spirits and relieve their stress. "Thispractice also instilled in the Chinese a very positive approach to life itself,for their health, well-being and vitality" ("Tao and Chi").

Chi (or Ch'i) is the most important component in Feng Shui, Chi encompasses everything and holds together all the different aspects and factors involved in Feng Shui. Chi cannot be seen, heard or felt, it does not register upon any of our senses. It's the virtual energy and force that flows all around. A house situated on a particular site with healthy environment will be subject to highly positive and beneficial Chi, it will help to produce a prosperous life or business environment. Feng Shui is basically the arrangement of environment to enable us to benefit from the good effects of Chi. There are three main conditions of Chi:
  • Sheng (beneficial) Chi: links to a good Feng Shui
  • Si (unhealthy) Chi: links to a bad Feng Shui
  • Sha (harmful) Chi: links to a killing Feng Shui  
Below is a short video I found demonstrating how to practice good Feng Shui. With three different enrtyways, Feng Shui expert, Laura Morris, shows how to create a balance of energy and harmony that will bring peace, prosperity, and good health.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Working Triangle

"Starting in 1944 the University of Illinois conducted a number of studies of kitchen design and developed the fundamental design principles that are still very much in use. These days the National Kitchen & Bath Association updates and publishes these basic design standards." -Star Craft Custom Builders

In my last post "Kitchen Come-Up!", I talked about the significance of the kitchen in homes and how some folks take their kitchens for granted now a days. Pointing out some kitchen designs that stood out to me, I discussed why I liked these kitchens. I pointed out the aesthetics and functionality of these kitchens, but in this post I'd like to go more in-depth on what makes great kitchen design. Particularly, I want to talk about "The Working Triangle," a fundamental design principle, and its significance in the kitchen.

Ergonomics: The study of efficiency in working environments.

Ergonomics plays a big role in "The Working Triangle" in that it helps us maintain the functionality of our kitchens and helps run them more smoothly and efficiently. This concept revolves around the placement of the refrigerator zone (food storage), the cooking zone (range and ovens), and the sink/cleanup zone. When these areas are places in the correct locations, this "triangle" can be very effective. According to the DIY Network, more trips are made within this "triangle" than in any other area of the kitchen.

According to the authors of the book "Interiors: An Introduction," the total walking distance among the three work zones should not be fewer than 12 feet because the kitchen will feel too crowded, causing frustration. Also, it should not be more than 26 feet because the zones will be too spaced out, causing exhaustion. Some kitchens may need two work triangles depending on how many people cook in the household. Along with the three major work zones (refrigerator, cooking, and sink/cleanup), there are other zones that add convenience and are considered essential to modern kitchen designs. These zones include:

· additional food storage zones
· various specialized food preparation zones
· a second cooking zone or a quick-cooking zone
· a second cleanup/sink zone
· tableware storage zone
· serving and service storage zone
· cleaning supplies storage zones

     Examples of "The Working Triangle"
                                                         Picture from

There are many different variations to this concept, but as an Interior Designer, it's his/or her job to give the client what is suitable for their needs and wants. The main purpose of this "triangle" is to increase efficiency. There are many sources that can help someone plan out their future kitchen design. "The Thirty-One Kitchen Design Rules, Illustrated" gives an in-depth list of guidelines that can help with many home improvement projects, including how to achieve "The Working Triangle".

Work Cited:
Nielsen, Karla, and David Taylor. Interiors: An Introduction. 5th ed. New York: Mc-Graw Hill, 2011. 146-147. Print.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Kitchen Come-up!

No one can argue the fact that the kitchen has served as an important space for many Americans over time. Families and friends come together over food. There's nothing better than enjoying a home cooked meal with the ones that you love. In today's society however, more people tend to eat out or stop at fast food restaurants out of convenience. Americans strive for convenience and want to be able to multitask. Why slave over a stove after a long day at work when one can grab a pizza on their way home from work? Why sit at a table and enjoy a home cooked breakfast when one can stop at McDonald's and grab a steak, egg, and cheese bagel on their way to work?

Americans used to value their kitchens. Now they use them sporadically, and during Thanksgiving. I honestly can't even say that with a straight face though. Companies know that Americans want convenience, and that they will pay the extra money to cut down their time. Working at a grocery store, I know that Thanksgiving is the busiest time of the year for us. Although I work there, it surprises me every year how people spend hundreds of dollars for someone else to prepare their Thanksgiving meals. Half of the experience is preparing the meal with loved ones.

Comparing today's kitchen to this kitchen from the 1950's, there's no doubt that the kitchen has gone through changes throughout the years. 

Regardless if people are remodeling their kitchens to show them off or to actually cook in them, I am fascinated with the many different kitchen designs. Here are a few designs I found on the site Adorable Home and fell in love with.

This kitchen I imagine belongs to a nature lover. The combination of the earthy shade of green, woodenaccents, brick backsplashes, and the orchid sitting on the table, provides an organic type of look. Each piece in this kitchen harmonizes with one another. The simplicity of the monochromatic color scheme balances out all the textures and visual patterns.

I can't even imagine this kitchen being cooked in. The shiny "candy apple" red cabinetry give me this "look, but don't touch" type of vibe. Although the shade of red is bold and vibrant, the kitchen is still  simplistic with its white countertops, stainless steel appliances, and matching backsplashes.

I love this kitchen because it is clean, simple, and to the point. Not only is it beautiful, but it is a kitchen that someone can actually cook in. A person wouldn't be scared to get messy in this kitchen because it's not over the top and lavished. The combination of the white cabinetry, black countertops, stainless steel appliances, and natural light creeping in through the window, makes this a traditional kitchen, and one that families would want to cook together in.
Random Fact: Believe it or not, but the kitchen and food preparation are parts of American history. There is even an exhibit in the National Museum of American History in Washington, DC. Even the late and great Julia Child's kitchen is on display at the exhibit!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Not JUST a Chair!

Chairs are used every day without a second glance. Students use them at school to sit at their desk and learn. Some people sit in an office chair from 9am to 5pm five days a week. The public uses chairs at the library, movie theaters, restaurants, and so on. The chair, an object that I'd say people take for granted, is very necessary to our everyday schedules. Personally, I find it easier to put my shoes on sitting down, or eating a meal sitting down, or even doing my homework sitting down. Sitting in this swivel desk chair writing this post, I wonder who created the first chair. According to the author of the article "Who Invented the Chair?",
 Some accounts say that the Egyptians invented the chair because archaeologists found chairs in Egytpian tombs.  Others point out that the Sumerians must have been the inventors because there is a 4,500 year old statue of the goddess Inanna showing her sitting on a throne-like chair.
With a world full of chairs, it's hard to imagine a world without them. I can only imagine the publics' reaction to the first ever chair. Luckily, Ryan Bowen's short video can show this reaction better than I can describe.


It's funny how a chair was once something so simple and was used for functional purposes. Now manufacturers are not only making chairs to be functional, but also to serve as art work. The chair below I wouldn't consider fashionable, but it looks very comfortable. Art is a form of expression and at times conveys beauty. I'm sure there are those out there who would appreciate the sight of this chair in their home, maybe a gamer perhaps?
I love animal print. Would I have a chair like this one in my home? Probably not, but this chair would fit someone's sassy personality and home. I can see this chair in a teenage girl's bedroom, or maybe a single young lady's apartment. It's a very fun and flirtatious chair, but elaborate chairs like this one do not fit in just any space.
The chair below is fairly simple compared to the one above. The designer of this chair, I think, was going more for functionality over flare. The designer wasn't trying to catch your eye with elaborate prints and bright colors, but with the fact that this chair is a 2-for-1. Not only can one sit down, but they can read, write, or do homework without being next to a side table with a lamp on it. This chair with the built in over light is a brilliant idea when it comes to functioning purposes. I wonder how it was constructed though. Did a heat resistant fabric have to be used? If the bulb went out, would it be easy to replace? I wonder how much this chair cost to produce and how much it's going for in department stores.

Here's another 2-for-1 piece. This chair serves as both a chair and a table. I think it's amazing how a chair was meant to be sat in, but over time the chair has evolved. Imaginations have gone wild. Designers are taking more risk. Notice the many variations of the chair in this blog post and in the real world (in stores, online, etc.). New and innovative creations are being made every day, and a chair is not just a chair anymore.
The chair featured in this video is a very simple chair and easy to assemble.

"Proceeds will be spent securing time on CNC machines, buying the raw materials, producing packaging and delivering your stool to you. We want to make low-volume local production runs efficient by spending time finding the closest machine to you, maximizing sustainability and getting your stool to you as quickly as possible." -Kickstarter

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Designer vs. Decorator

You're probably thinking to yourself “what is the difference between an Interior Designer and an Interior Decorator??" It's all about the qualifications. When I think of a Designer, I think of someone who is fully rounded and educated when it comes to all aspects of design (sustainability, maintenance, accessibility, programming needs, reflected ceiling plans, etc.). A decorator on the other hand, I find are the people who don't have the education and background, but take up decorating more as a hobby. Any person can call themselves an Interior Decorator, but only those who qualify (have a four year degree, years of experience, and passed the licensing exam) can call themselves Interior Designers.
Step 1: Education
To become a licensed Interior Designer in the state of Virginia, you must graduate from a four year accredited degree programs. The Council for Interior Design Accreditation (CIDA) "assures the public that interior design education prepares students to be responsible, well-informed, skilled professionals who make beautiful, safe, and comfortable spaces that also respect the earth and its resources." CIDA sets the standard for these accredited institutions.
Step 2: Experience
After graduation, you must obtain at least two years of formal training with in the Interior Design Field.
Step 3: Examination
After four years of education and two years of experience, you are eligible to take the licensing exam. The National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) administers the exam. If you pass the exam, by law, you can call yourself an Interior Designer. This means you have acquired the standard knowledge of what it entails to be an Interior Designer. 
This is the NCIDQ's view on the difference between Interior Design and Decorating:
 Many people use the terms "interior design" and "interior decorating" interchangeably, but these professions differ in critical ways.

Interior design is the art and science of understanding people's behavior to create functional spaces within a building. Decoration is the furnishing or adorning of a space with fashionable or beautiful things. In short, interior designers may decorate, but decorators do not design.

Interior designers apply creative and technical solutions within a structure that are functional, attractive and beneficial to the occupants' quality of life and culture. Designs respond to and coordinate with the building shell and acknowledge the physical location and social context of the project. Designs must adhere to code and regulatory requirements and encourage the principles of environmental sustainability.

The interior design process follows a systematic and coordinated methodology—including research, analysis and integration of knowledge into the creative process—to satisfy the needs and resources of the client.

Many U.S. states and Canadian provinces have passed laws requiring interior designers to be licensed or registered—documenting their formal education and training—and many of them specifically require that all practicing interior designers earn the NCIDQ Certificate to demonstrate their experience and qualifications. By contrast, interior decorators require no formal training or licensure.