Many people tend to think of artistic professions and STEAM professions differently: People are either creative or mathematical and logical. Interestingly, most place interior design in the creative category, when it actually belongs right in the middle.
In fact, the majority of jobs use both creative and logical elements on a daily basis, and interior design is no exception. Let’s explore how interior designers use STEAM concepts to create beautiful and usable homes.
STEAM is Used Across the Interior Design Process
The first step is to bust the myth that interior design is not a technical career. While there are creative elements involved, good designers know their math, science, tech, and engineering.
“For every step that relies on 3D modeling, material reference databases, and mood boards, there are another 10 steps built on environmental psychology, cognitive science, and good old engineering,” writes M. Asher Stephenson at Medium. “The end result might be presented as a creative solution, but the work itself hinges on some really technical know-how.”
Interior design as a whole isn’t limited to homes and businesses either. Designers are needed across all industries to add their creativity while focusing on the elements of a good product.
“I am surrounded everyday by creative people in the STEM field,” industrial designer Magdalena Kokoszynska tells Darling magazine. “I think that exposure to a career like mine is limited for young people and this makes it harder for people to pursue something they don’t know exists.”
Kokoszynska works at General Motors to design the interiors of various Chevrolet models, taking the future drivers and their needs into consideration every step of the way.
Designers Use Materials Science to Source Sustainable Materials
Modern interior designers need to be aware of where their materials come from, what they are made of, and how these chemicals and elements will impact homeowners.
SEED Homebuilders created a hierarchy of environmentally-friendly items interior designers can choose from when planning out a home. They also rate common building materials for environmental impact. When seeking environmentally-friendly materials, look for:
- Reused or upcycled materials.
- Products made from recycled materials.
- Local, renewable materials that require limited manufacturing.
- Renewable resources and products that require less energy to create.
As a rule of thumb, the farther the materials have to travel, the bigger environmental impact they are likely to have. Plus, it is harder for designers to check and make sure the materials came from sustainable and ethical sources.
“Interior designers have a lot of power in their hands when it comes to waste reduction, and at the same time, a big responsibility to act sustainably,” says the team at ECONYL, a textile producer that regenerates nylon waste. “The mentality of discarding products as soon as they go out of style and replacing them with those that are currently trendy is no longer justifiable.”
By upcycling items or selecting items made with recyclable materials, interior designers can responsibly choose their materials and create designs with low environmental impacts. The designers at Decorilla even encourage clients to hire environmentally-conscious interior designers so their home renovations won’t impact the environment negatively.
There Are Multiple Psychological Elements Behind Interior Design
Along with physical sciences, mental sciences play a significant role in interior design. There’s even a whole subset to the field (interior design psychology) that focuses exclusively on the feelings of people living in a space.
“[Interior design psychology] is a direct study of the relationship between an environment and how that environment affects the behavior of its inhabitants, with the aim of maximizing the positive effects of this relationship,” the team at Dawn Chapnick Designs writes. “It is crucial for a designer to consider design solutions for interior environments while supporting the health, safety, and well being of occupants in addition to enhancing their quality of life.”
The use of psychology in interior design often requires many small steps to create a big impact. Check out a few examples and see how they compare with the design of your home.
The use of color is a common example of the creativity and science behind interior design. Kathryn Pomroy at the Art Career Project explains how color can make people change their feelings and behavior. This is essential when choosing color palettes throughout a house. For example, a designer might add yellow accents to a kitchen to evoke energy and make people feel hungry, while making the porch blue to evoke a sense of calm.
Room Size and Perception
Gabrielle Omar at Spot This Space says colors and design elements of interior design can also impact the perceived size of a room. She recommends using lighter colors to make a space seem bigger, while decluttering it to create more openness. Even small effects like having a natural light source can make a space seem larger. While this is important for homeowners looking to put their space on the market, it also helps people feel more comfortable living in cramped spaces.
Humans look for symmetry all around them, from choosing a romantic partner to designing their homes. “Because symmetry is familiar to us, it’s easier for our brains to process, allowing us to make sense of symmetrical spaces quickly,” the Canningvale Designs team writes. “This is why we often interpret well balanced rooms as pleasing, harmonious, and calming.”
Taking simple steps like placing end tables of roughly the same size on each side of a bed increases the symmetry of a room and puts people at ease.
Geometry and Use of Shapes
Along with symmetry, interior designers are able to set the tone through the shapes they use to create a space.
For example, Jennifter Thorp at Bustle reports that people are more willing to give rooms with rounded surfaces a “beautiful” rating over those that are designed with straight lines. Rooms with curves were more likely to activate emotional centers of the brain. Consider this next time you see a photo of the Oval Office or visit a round room.
These design elements all work together to create a room’s layout. If the psychological emotions play against each other, then people can feel uncomfortable and confused in the room they’re in.
Interior Designers Use Multiple Levels of Math
You can’t have STEAM without math, and you can’t be successful at interior design without it either. “Interior designers must be able to make both quick estimates and detailed calculations in order to please their clients,” the team at MathsCareers writes.
Estimates give customers an idea for the budget, timeline, and resources needed to complete a project. Then, designers need to make sure their selections actually fit in the room and they have enough materials without going over budget. Interior designers are constantly doing math, whether the fundamentals of algebra and geometry for design or accounting practices to manage their business.
There are also some more advanced mathematical concepts that go into design. Mathematicians have developed the Golden Ratio, or a series of proportions that people throughout history consider to be visually pleasing, explains the team at LBD Design.
You can see examples of the Golden Ratio in the Parthenon, the Taj Mahal, and St. Mark’s Basilica. Many interior designers to this day still follow the Golden Ratio to balance out furniture and use neutral colors for accents.
While most people might not realize the math and psychological aspects that go into designing their homes, designers make very real decisions that involve STEAM concepts to determine the best layouts.