In my work as a »Holistic Designer«, I frequently get the chance to assist in the development process of particularly ambitious projects – often from the very beginning … From B for branding … and B like building … to B like being in operation. Our studio has amassed experiences from over 300 locations in 35 countries – different projects in different contexts.

However, the foundation of our activities in every single project was and is »SensoryWork«: training your own perception as the foundation for the design process. Mostly we succeed in carrying out this »SensoryWork« together with the customer. In this context – as an introduction to underlying processes – I have developed a small »SensoryJourney«: a meditation for your sight, for your inner and outer sight.

A meditation to sound out our perceptive potential.

You will achieve the most success in this activity if you close your eyes and have a trusted person read you this text. Here we go …

»Please close your eyes.

When you’ve closed your eyes: what do you see?

And when you’ve closed your eyes and imagine what you would see if you had your eyes open: what do you see now?

In both cases we see: LIGHT.

In fact, everything that we can see is light. Without light we couldn’t see, we couldn’t see anything. So when we set our minds to designing spaces – to interior design – then first of all we should think about the light that makes it possible for us to see that space. The established practice in architecture and design processes, however, is to see light (and by that, they mean lighting technology above all) as an accessory to spatial design – an accessory that is thought about late, often too late to iron out architectural flaws, to »give it an atmosphere« as it were. And yet: light will make or break vision – and hence the design!

Which KINDS of light can we see?

To approach the almost countless number of lighting possibilities as designers, we can’t avoid a short analysis: on the one hand we see direct light that can blind us, whereby the ray of light travels straight from its source into our eyes. On the other hand, there is indirect light – particularly relevant for spatial design – as a reflection on the surface of a material or as refraction in the material itself, whereby the light penetrates and shines through e.g. translucent glass.

Which QUALITIES of light can we see?

Firstly, we have to ask about wavelength – i.e. the spectrum of light, which we simply perceive as colour. With your inner eye, image a terrific colour gradient that fills your field of vision: from a deep, dark blue…to an increasingly bright turquoise…all the way to a strong orange…and now, even to a soft shade of lilac. We are also interested in light-and-dark contrasts, in differences between warm and cold lights and lastly in the intensity contrast between intensive and weak light. You can easily test that out: take that last, soft shade of lilac that you were picturing and intensify it, more and more…until it becomes »loud«…and »solid«. Now that lilac has almost become pink ;)

But what can light actually reveal? Which CATEGORIES OF VISION are we even capable of perceiving?

First of all, there are fine structures like the surfaces of materials or micro patterns, which is often where a quasi-automatic connection with touching and feeling comes from. I’m referring to the »seen« sense of touch in contrast to the »felt« sense of touch, by which I mean our fascinating ability to »touch« a tangibly interesting surface with our eyes ... Then there are visual macrostructures: lines, angles, curves, hard, soft, surfaces and stretches of surface that subsequently create so-called »shapes«. Yes and then we see space – defined as the relationship of these shapes to one another. We also see distances, proportions and even emptiness. Then we see space in motion – from a standstill to the dynamics of changing our perspective. We see various movement axes, directions and speeds, yes: we see speed. And ultimately we can even see »time«: as time-space, as time-progression, but also as the age of a material or the surface of a material – as a time structure inherent to the material. Yes, we even see the age of a person. We see the age of humans .:.

And then there is something else.

Seemingly beyond these categories of vision there lies the blurred space, the blurred time, without clear limitations, rather a foggy, cloudy, fine-meshed space-time-construct. A sphere. A cloud. The QuantumSpace? Or even a Ganzfeld. This is where our perception changes. Our vision turns inward. A new world opens.«

But more about that … next time.

© SHA. 2016