Interior Design for the Human Spirit

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.

If all of the furnishings are to be placed in a useful, pleasing, and scale and proportion in interior design with each other and with the human beings who use the furnishings, we then have an 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 have very little to do with “style” “taste” and “money” as modern publications would want us to believe. In reality, interior design and architecture have 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.

The first 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. For the infants 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 no 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 the scale and proportion in interior design is of the utmost importance when designing for human beings. It is important because it is one of the four principles of design.

Let us continue with the proportion

Proportion is similar to scale. But the proportion has to do with the relationships of parts to the whole, while the 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 the 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 principles of design.

Let us continue with the relationship 

Everything in the built world exists in some relation to something else. Everything in life relates to some aspect of something else. Without a relationship, we have no method for comparison. All of our perceptions of size relate to one object about 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 the 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 space speak a narrative to us as we enter and look around. The site and the exterior architecture should tell us something about 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 person’s 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 about your narrative.

Your first plans should be done in black and white with rudimentary measurements. You are looking for scale and proportion in interior design, not a finished product. In the second stage, you can start filling in actual colors, 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 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.

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