Refracted Input

Clare O’Farrell’s blog on books, TV, films, Michel Foucault, universities etc. etc.

Design Psychology, ‘the practice of architecture, planning and interior design in which psychology is the principal design tool’ (Toby Israel) is a growing new field, forming part of the discipline of psychology’s ever expanding and dubious endeavour to encompass and explain all human experience. Clare Cooper Marcus’s work could also be situated within this movement. Martha Beck remarks:

You may have no idea you’ve produced an extensive memoir, but you have. In fact, you’re living in it. According to psychologists who analyze the relationship between our homes and our psyches, we often—consciously or not—choose and arrange out living spaces to reflect our life histories. To Toby Israel, author of Some Place like Home: Using Design Psychology to Create Ideal Places, a home is an “environmental autobiography.”

When visitors walk into your home, what story do they “read”?

Selgascano Studio. Architects: José Selgas and Lucía Cano, Madrid (Spain) 2007.

But perhaps we could take a different approach to living space. Rather than viewing living space simply as an extension of the self and identity, manipulating and colonising space and material objects, imposing a power relationship upon them, forcing them into expressing a self which is not their own, we might envisage instead, entering into a free relationship, a relationship of mutual respect, support and harmony. This idea is slowly gaining more mainstream traction in relation to natural environments, and can also be seen in innovative initiatives in the built environment which see environmental architecture working in the area of harmonious relations with nature. But it is not just ‘nature’ and the outside that need to be recognised here, but the very form of the materials and objects that make up the building and its interior.

Again, this is about recognising the boundaries of the human and non-human and entering into a relation, a network where difference is recognised, rather than the human occupying the whole territory.

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