Lately, in the midst of perusing professional wedding and design photos online, I’ve been thinking a lot about photography–a hobby I’ve gotten more into lately, since I decided I want to take pretty decent photographs of any interior design projects I do. When I stop to think about it, it really amazes me how, when using the right mixture of settings, a great lens can uniquely capture and filter light in a way that can make for the most interesting, almost unreal, images. Makes everything look less mundane…restores/adds a touch of magic, even.
Somehow this got me to thinking about the way the world appeared to me as a kid versus how it looks to me now. Everything seemed so new and magical and wonderful back then; now it’s all too easy to look at things and see what they simply are: a vast amalgamation of substances with a variety of properties–typically nothing new under the sun. We can even get scientific and break things down to their molecular components, if we really wanted to.
But I’m not a scientist.
I’m not trying to be poetic here, but I feel like this is what (good) art often aims to do: create an illusion (and I use this word in the most positive way possible) to show what could/should be more so than reveal what already is. That’s not to say that art can’t or doesn’t do both, but I feel if you spend enough time meditating on the way things really are more times than not, you’d probably prefer more of the former than the latter. Anyway, when I look at certain photographers’ work or listen to certain composers’ scores, I feel this is exactly what they’re trying to do: create a picture of what could/should be. I bring this up because I recently realized that I try to do the same when I put together room designs conceptually during the presentation stage and even when I’m writing or editing. (Yes, I’ve actually done a bit of that lately.)
But let’s face it: at the end of the day, when you walk into a well-designed space–if you really just look at everything for what it is–it’s still really all just a bunch of stuff. Yet somehow, in magazines and even in our minds, the space becomes so much more. Because of the way everything is arranged, and because of the conditions and settings photographers use as well as our own desires and perceptions we bring to the table as viewers, images such as those seen in magazines actually make those spaces look better than they do through our own eyes (in “real” life), imo. Often, the photographs are cast in an almost heavenly glow. Everything looks so bright and luminous and rather extraordinary. A plain white plaster wall with artfully-arranged wall art and accessories, photographed under the right circumstances, suddenly is no longer ordinary; it’s something to be published in a home or design magazine.
Suddenly, it’s become art.
Science, Art & Magic
Depending on where you get your degree from, interior design is either considered a bachelor of art or science; my degree is a bachelor of science in interior design, but the thing is interior design is really a bit of both. The science side is more like understanding the psychological effect color can have on people, the use of light, planning the layout of a room so its inhabitants get the most efficient use of the space available to them, etc. But there’s a more nebulous, artful side to interior design, as well.
I find it hard to explain, but personally interior design is a very intuitive thing to me. Every object, every color and texture and pattern and shape, emanates a certain “vibe” or “aura” about it. (Not trying to be all New Age-y here, but that’s the only way I know how to describe it.) Depending on context, some vibes work well with others; some are just plain incompatible. It’s all a very relative process for me, sussing out what works and doesn’t work well together. What makes things even more challenging is taking into consideration the Human Vibe–that is, trying to successfully infuse the personality or spirit of the homeowner so they actually feel “at home” in their abode.
When the result is successful, the person you’ve designed the space for will not only be pleased with the practical side of how much more useful their new space will work for them but they will also be emotionally moved. It will speak to them on a very personal level. How many times have you watched shows on HGTV (design purists–spare me the “that’s not interior design!” speech, please) and seen the client burst out in tears when it came to the reveal of their room or home makeover? There’s something very special, magical even, about the process of interior design, and the same can be said for other art forms, as well.
Humans: The Insatiable, Creative Race
Why do people seek to change their reality? Usually because they aren’t satisfied with it.
I guess maybe this is part of why I like writing fiction in make-believe worlds (when I do get around to it lately, anyway): you get the chance to re-shape people’s perceptions of reality by showing them how things could, perhaps even should, be. It’s saying, “I know how boring/uninspiring/awful things look now…but just imagine what it could be.” But this can be used in different ways, see. On one hand, you can use this process to show people that “hey, things could actually be a lot worse; be grateful for what you have.” On the other, the process can be used to inspire and help others look forward to more positive changes. On another hand (especially with something like futuristic dystopian fiction), it could also be used as a warning: “Hey, human race, let’s try not to go there.”
Artists, inventors, creators, writers–we are all kinda like magicians, in a way, shaping and creating realities in ways that no one else can. And I think that’s pretty darn cool.
Say…I’m not actually sure if I’ve really gone anywhere with all of this, though it has been on my mind so I felt like writing about it. Besides, what were you expecting from a discovery writer?
It’s all about the journey, man…