The concept of interior design dates back over 3,000 years to the practice of feng shui, utilizing design styles within our space to add mental clarity and overall comfortability to our day-to-day living.
However, with technological and general human advancements and the amount of time spent indoors rising, interior design and the way we interact with our space are evolving at a rapid rate.
One-third of American workers report that they have found themselves more productive and feel a rise in their well-being working their 9 to 5 from home. And with the prediction that 25% of the workforce will be permanently remote by 2025, more are beginning to understand just what they need from their happy, healthy home space.
Having spent more time in our cozy surroundings, we have learned to question what works, what does not, and just what makes us feel good when we are facing our co-workers at the desk, or are cuddled up on the couch watching a movie in the next room over. This has led us to become more adapted to differentiating or calibrating our wants and needs.
Along with this increased time indoors, the world has become progressively more aware of how to re-approach the functionalities of their living space and overall expression of style. Couple this with technological advancements as the years fly by, and you start to see a result of fast-paced integration merging the overall user experience with traditional methods of interior design.
Keeping user experience in mind throughout the customer interaction process can naturally increase users’ understanding and overall clarity on what they want out of a living or work area that they plan to spruce up and redesign. Pair this process with an empathetic designer and you have the perfect opportunity to enhance the optimal usability of your space without sacrificing taste in the process.
Bespoke Spaces Tailored to Usability and Taste: Just How do Designers Ensure Optimal UX?
Much like traditional UX design when creating an app or website, an interior designer’s first point of contact with the user is all about discovery — looking for the emotive reason they’ve decided to take the road to transformation in their home.
In this process, communication on goals, wants and needs, design-wise, and overall functionality, is vital to the user experience process.
Outside the home, in professional environments, brand identity or appearance is highly taken into consideration also, prioritizing company tone and culture throughout the entire design process.
Visual and Vocal Communication is the Key to Unlocking the Perfect Castle
Redesigning a space to which one may be attached can quickly become a complicated and overwhelming experience. Therefore, it’s essential to prioritize UX processes in the early stage of a project to ensure that users can truly visualize their dream living space before making any commitments.
To visually communicate creative ideas and flow, designers may present physical product samples of flooring or tiles, or produce a mood board or prototype to a client in an overhaul to avoid any hiccups down the line.
Marie Kondo from KonMari.com once said, ‘Every item should be delightful and easy to access. Only you can know what kind of environment makes you happy.’
Therefore, ensuring thorough and creative questioning in the early stages of a project, such as ‘What’s the most important factor you take into consideration during the selection of your favorite furniture?’ and ‘What is the first thing you do when you begin to decorate your room?’ can help discover inner depths to the users own personal, creative process, in order to understand what environment will make them truly happy and fulfilled.
It is also essential to consider the user’s background or culture.
Some cultures may even perceive particular color meanings differently, so bear this in mind. For example, the color red in some Asian communities symbolizes good luck and fortune. However, red is a reminder of violence and mourning in some African cultures.
Considering all aspects, no matter how big or small, during the initial discovery process or throughout the entire project will help integrate the user’s needs and wants while staying sensitive to any cultural, social or physically/mentally limiting aspects of their day-to-day living.
Balancing Needs and Wants is a Sensitive, Empathetic Art Form
Built within us is a sense to thrive in environments that prioritize efficiency, productivity and overall simplicity. So naturally, when it comes to design, we must learn to incorporate the basic human need for comfortability and practicality alongside our favorite teal green or grandma’s old chair that we want to keep in the family. We must help users integrate our needs and wants and merge them as one, respecting boundaries, of course.
Take indoor plants, for example. Not only will they bring a lively and colorful design aspect to even the blandest of environments, but they also add physical and mental health benefits such as reducing feelings of stress or boosting air quality in smaller, stuffier homes.
It is paramount that interior designers utilize all their empathy to create a space that resonates with the user and how they want to feel and thrive within it. Other vital factors to consider may be: What activities will take place in the home? Is the user social? Will they be hosting? Or maybe the user is more introverted, thus spending a lot of time alone indoors. How can we make it comfortable in that regard? Does the user have any disabilities, physical or mental, which will need to be considered when designing a space?
Or let’s say the user expressed that they struggle to be in their space during the winter months due to a lack of light. They’ve been experiencing seasonal depression. How can we open this space up to bring in ample sunlight during the user’s darkest period?
By finding out this type of information, designers can elevate the user experience by solving this problem. Using brighter indoor colors, switching out the lighting, harnessing the power of mirrors to reflect light, or simply adding greenery will improve the users’ mental health if they struggle in the winter months.
How to Leverage the Influx of Technological Advancements
Some users may enjoy scrolling through Pinterest or signing up for Architectural Digest‘s monthly subscription to fill themselves with inspiration. Still, when it comes down to decorating the home, some may be shocked at just how complicated, time-consuming and expensive the process is.
User-facing applications such as DecorMatters or Havenly use augmented reality to allow users to upload images of their home space. These hurdles can quickly be overcome by visualizing their design options in real time with the click of a few buttons. They can see how that couch they may have taken an interest in last week looks against their exposed brick wall, thus allowing options to visualize their redesign without the financial or physical commitment.
These apps also focus on the UX processes, offering live customer support with real, qualified interior designers who use an ample amount of tailored, bespoke discovery, providing continuous and authentic support. Other applications such as RoomScanPro even allow you to measure your dimensions and walls, all through the touch of your phone to the surface.
What do we Expect to See in the Future?
As augmented and virtual reality advance, so will the options to provide more immersive UX experiences, such as utilizing VR headsets to enter the visual realm of a dream project or using holographic projections in large open spaces to host virtual reality showrooms. And with immersive meeting spaces such as the metaverse, users can meet worldwide and be completely immersed in what you have to offer.
Although it is common to fear the rapid pace of advancement in our technological society, leveraging it to our advantage can create a more immersive and accessible user experience for our clients in interior design in the future.