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!