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Happy on the Inside: Interiors and Well-being

Gerard McGuickin
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Your home is your castle—the place where you feel most safe and secure, cozy and warm. Here, my thinking is reasoned and rational, my emotions engaged and balance restored.

At home, my well-being is central. To an increasing extent, we are taking this premise of well-being at home and seeking it in different areas of our lives: from the workplace to healthcare, and retail to respite.

The Oxford English dictionary defines well-being as “the state of being comfortable, healthy, or happy.” Human nature is complex and many factors will impact on a person’s well-being, not least in relation to lifestyle, career, money, relationships and environment. In a 2011 European Commission report on well-being, the “quality of residence” was related to one’s well-being, with notable factors including: “size, the interior or decor, the idea of a comfortable and pleasant dwelling… owning a healthy and eco-friendly house [and] liking the home you are in.”

Fostering relationships with interiors

A well-designed interior can affect well-being by exerting influence on happiness, emotional state, physiology, behavior and sensory faculties. But what constitutes a well-designed interior? There are a number of components: light, sound, smell, temperature, texture, context, interaction, connectivity, decoration and furnishings. Each of these components should relate to one another and to the person.

A person’s relationship with their interior will also affect well-being. An interior without substance, one that is capricious and concerned more with appearance, is unlikely to foster a meaningful relationship (with the individual). In a recent interview with Kinfolk magazine, celebrated industrial designer Dieter Rams asserted: “Beauty, not just appearance, that is both exemplary and instructive, certainly intensifies and prolongs the relationship with the user and therefore also makes sense ecologically. In my 10 principles of good design, I have written that the aesthetic quality of a product is an integral aspect of its usefulness, for the appliances that we use daily have an impact on our personal environment and influence our sense of well-being” Applying Rams’ thinking to interior design suggests that the aesthetic quality of an interior, one that is exemplary and instructive, encourages a sincere relationship with the person on a daily basis, influencing their sense of well-being.

Courtesy of Out of the Valley
Courtesy of Out of the Valley

Out of the Valley cabins – Photo © Out of the Valley

Orthodontic clinic interior by Amsterdam-based Studio Prototype. Photo by Jeroen Musch via Studio Prototype.

Maggie’s Centre in Manchester. Photo via Foster + Partners.

The Randall Children’s Hospital in Portland, Oregon, features several Totem pendant lights designed by Burkhard Dämmer and Mariví Calvo for LZF Lamps. Photo © Luziferlamps S.L.

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