How do interior aesthetics impact its users?

Professor Sophie Johnson questions whether the aesthetics of an interior really impact its users.

With topics ranging from trends in overall interior design and the future of yacht interiors to light concepts, architects and interior designers shared their insights with the audience at Index Design Talks. Sophie Johnson, assistant professor at the School of Architecture and Interior Design, Canadian University of Dubai (CUD) gave an interesting presentation on the world of materials and questioned whether the aesthetics of an interior really impact its users and environment. CID was there to note some of her key points.

“One cannot discuss architecture or interiors without the mention of materials, which inherently give the building a feeling, a place in history and a style by which to be recognised. Understanding and thoughtful incorporation of materials give a physical presence to the imagination of designers.

Meraas has launched ‘Dubai’s latest urban district – Box Park’ and words like unique, modern, quirky and electric were used to describe this development. All these words are housed in shipping containers and a mix of stone, metal, glass and concrete slab. Just the definition of ‘urban’, densely populated, built up, inner city, its intention is to evoke certain images. Those images are often of the buildings, made up of concrete, glass, steel, placed tightly together gasping for breath. In this setting the materials are seen as contemporary, even fresh. These materials, with a long serving history, now take on a fresh approach in this arena. Variety and diversity are the goal here, as opposed to uniformity,” explained Johnson during her presentation at Index.

She further highlighted that modern technology makes it possible for designers to have the materials they desire, without the constraints of the actual material quality.

“Nowadays we can get the aesthetics of the individual materials, placed on an easy to use surface, which can be enjoyed by all, like concrete wallpapers, for example. Making it as realistic as possible, the paper quality is also of importance as there is a slight relief to the texture, making most people want to ‘touch’ the paper to check if it is real. Only then, they would feel a ‘warm’ touch as opposed to a ‘cooler’ touch of the real material. This would also change the acoustics of the space.”

During her lecture, Johnson pointed out that today there are unparalleled opportunities for designers to break the rules, so the term “correct use” of materials and textures is now becoming inappropriate.

“Designers have chosen to break established rules and conventions. Due to technology being able to reproduce the aesthetics of materials, the knowledge of the materials’ qualities is not necessarily the primary concern now, but one should have an appreciation for the historical and cultural context of a material, as well as more contemporary notions of brand, image and identity,” concluded Johnson.