The Power of Design

One recent Thursday, I had the opportunity to visit an outstanding design studio located in Morristown, NJ; “The Greenbaum’s Country Mile”. I was so impressed by the environment! I thought it was a wonderful place for clients to just spend time, not necessarily to purchase, but perhaps to take in the atmosphere; or to experience the feeling of what it is like to be surrounded by quality design and to have the opportunity to study the enhancements which were part of all the detailing. From window treatments to cabinet styles, upholstery trimmings to other beautiful pieces of artwork and accessories, this is truly a beautiful design establishment and showroom.

In today’s world we have so few spaces where we can really experience quality design. Of course we can see it on television or in videos—- but this is not the same as being in the space, and actually experiencing it. We need more of this type of furnishings example. I can understand why people are saying ‘I want you to duplicate the room I saw in a certain hotel lounge because this is how I want my house to feel.’ Those of us in the design field need to find a way of creating spaces that people can ‘feel’ the surroundings, and imagine themselves as part of it. In my mind, this is the ultimate way for them to understand the value of great design.

Recently, I had the experience of it of visiting the Cloisters in Manhattan, a division of the Metropolitan Museum. It is the only medieval Museum in the U.S. I have been there many times through the years and fortunately had the privilege of going with different people. It is enigmatically fascinating the way the museum captures the beauty and majesty within, and how the dedicated and impassioned guides are able to bring awareness to all of the details, many of which would otherwise go unnoticed.

The tradition of churches and synagogues must certainly be some of the most impressive spaces that one would ever have the opportunity to visit. So ‘special’ are they, that we would look forward to the time each week to be close enough to visit these marvelous spaces.

In the study of proxemics, designers have come to understand how environments direct human behavior…that people instinctively respond to their environments. One of the primary examples that I have in my work experience is the design project I completed at the Founder’s Hall in Hershey, Pa. Once opened for touring by the public, large crowds of people would come to visit. As the exited the automobiles and buses and approached the building, there was typically the kind of noise one would expect from large rambunctious crowds…joking, laughing, and some fooling around. However, upon entering doors of the Founder’s Hall, the mood changed, almost instantly! You could hear a pin drop! The environment speaks to people in this way.

I love experiencing different spaces and I’m always so fascinated to see how those I’m traveling with respond to these exposures. Design is very powerful! Let’s take the opportunity design gives us to create environments that stimulate the appropriate behaviors, and address the various situations and themes. We have the power to make positive change!

Putting some ‘Wow’ in the Powder Room!

A powder room is a great place to have fun! You might think it somewhat impractical, but this could be quite an exciting showroom for your guests! Imagine their delight when they open the door to an intimately designed, personally styled area that is not to be taken for granted! I have so enjoyed incorporating some of my clients’ special interests into their powder room! One was decorated with items they collected while visiting another continent. Another featured contemporary art with fiber-optic lights further highlighted by crystals mounted atop an equally elegant and irregularly shaped mirror. In my own powder room, I integrated some of my prized artwork. It also features lighting fixtures to intrigue the visual palate!

Proper and effective lighting is certainly the key to a hospitable and inviting environment. There needs to be enough light for a lady to touch up her make-up, and just the right amount to underscore the décor. A variety of lighting is attractive and welcoming! Invite them in graciously, with the door slightly ajar and sufficiently dimmed lighting to allow for navigation. Necessities and luxuries can be blended throughout your display, perhaps with decorative hand towels, personalized soap and hand cream in artfully designed encasements. A small finishing table or tastefully situated stand for a handbag or other personal items might be appropriate as well.

A nice touch can be a vessel sink, a cabinet which is altered to accommodate the plumbing fixtures, and still provide the detail of a lovely piece of furniture, an unusual toilet or other items that might be better masked.

Be somewhat cautioned….
• Be practical with the design—not everyone might treat it as carefully as you do.
• Whatever you do, don’t ‘over do’ with perfumed scents. People prefer a clean scent as opposed to pungently flowery or fruity air fresheners.
• Make sure that whatever you install is simple enough to navigate. Turning on the water and flushing the toilet need not be mysteries for your guests to solve!