Apologies in advance for the saucy title, I know it’s a bit provocative, but I couldn’t think of a good way to introduce this topic. I bet you guys could give me 100 reasons! Which is kinda what I’m hoping – please get involved in the discussion below! I decided a month or so ago that in addition to posts on interiors & styling, I wanted to start writing more about bigger questions in interiors & design as these are the things I find myself pondering in my down time. This week I’ve been thinking about why we should take interior design seriously.
This question has been on my mind a lot over the past few weeks. I decided over Christmas that I am going to start an interior design course with KLC (I’ll post all about the course once I start), and since making the decision and beginning to tell people about it, I keep getting the same reaction. I’m sure some of you guys are familiar with it. It goes along the lines of “…. Oh. Oh well that sounds nice. Wouldn’t it be nice to match curtains with cushions for your job! You’d be good at that.” And while I think everyone I’ve spoken to means well, I can’t help but be a bit irritated that a lot of people seem to think that a qualification in interior design is about as rigorous and useful as a certificate in petting kittens. (Though that does sound like something I’d do if it existed haha 😂)
I guess for people outside of our little bubble, that is what it looks like. And to be fair to them, a lot of their observations are probably right: we do love moving things around the house, spending hours in H&M home Stratford, and agonising over wall colours. (Call me pathetic, but treating myself to a new set of cutlery gives me a buzz.)
But that isn’t at the heart of why I love interior design. I have always been very introverted, and that has gone hand in hand (as I’m sure it does with lots of you) with being a homebody. As much as I love a girls night out, I’m definitely a nester at heart. When I was young, my bedroom was always a psychological as well as a physical sanctuary, and I spent a lot energy begging to be allowed to design it how I envisioned (I’m mainly thinking about the time where I wanted everything to be hot pink. Literally everything. My poor Dad even painted the curtain pole! Nightmare.). When I was sad I made dens out of the sheets, and somehow, sitting in there was a better cure than anything else.
I think that many of us are just naturally more sensitive to interiors. This one might ring true for some of you: one of my most prevailing memories from the weeks spent in and out of hospital visiting my wonderful Nanny before she passed away in 2010, is of how oppressive the environment was. I was 15 at the time, and the first time I went on my own, I got lost and spent what felt like hours pacing down corridor after corridor into wards and wings that looked exactly the same searching for her. Everything about that hospital depressed me: the strip lights, the industrial beige terazzo floors, the plastic-covered arm chairs, the scuffed magnolia walls. It goes without saying that I have some sad memories connected with that place, but the impact that the physical space had on me is something that I have thought about a lot since then.
I really believe that interior design has an incredible power to transform the experience we have of spaces – both ergonomically and psychologically, for the better and the worse. Admittedly, I think some people are more sensitive to this than others. I have plenty of friends who produce amazing work from 90s-style office environments with small cubicles and stark fluorescent lighting. I couldn’t spend 40+ hours a week in a space like that. Even as I write that, it seems very superficial and princessy, and it’s not lost on me how lucky I am to be in a position where I have a choice about that. I want to work in interior design because I think that it can be transformative to people’s everyday wellbeing, and by extension, to their lives. Living and working in spaces that make us feel comfortable, secure, engaged, and creative should be something that everyone is entitled to.
If this topic is of interest you guys, I’d definitely recommend the interior design episode of Netflix’s Abstract series. It follows the life & career of designer Ilse Crawford, who really pioneered a new way of thinking about interior design. It is largely due to her that interior design is now taken more seriously among other forms of design. Her book, Sensual Home, was ground-breaking in the late nineties in that way that it approached interior design from the perspective of the senses, and intertwined the ideas of interior design and environmental psychology. It’s still at the top of my book list!
What do you guys think? Why is interior design important to you?