Here’s something a lot of us have been through: We scroll through interior design feeds for inspiration (have you seen our Instagram?), bookmarking everything visually wonderful from Japanese minimalism’s Zen designs to muted Danish color tones to Tom Dixon’s fanciful furniture. But at decision time, when you actually have to commit to a certain coherent aesthetic for your apartment, how will you pick?
Google has a solution for you: Pick what makes you feel best. Their installation in Milan showcased an empirical method to find out what interior style makes you feel most comfortable.
At Spazio Maiocchi in Milan, Ivy Ross, Vice President of Design at Google, worked with the International Arts + Mind Lab at John Hopkins University and Suchi Reddy of Reddymade to design a characterful, multi-room installation furnished with Danish modern design studio Muuto’s products.
At the entrance, guests were asked to put on a custom made wristband by Google Hardware that tracks specific physical and physiological responses such as heart rate and skin conductivity.
Then, they were given five minutes in each of three distinctly designed living rooms: ‘Essential,’ ‘Vital’ and ‘Transformative.’
‘Essential’ is an earthy room with soft lighting and soothing textures. Rounded corners and dark tones play against a central woolly tapestry by Dutch visual artist Claudy Jongstra.
‘Vital’ is a luminous room with blue-pink ombre walls, navy and rust colored furniture, and pops of color such as a yellow cabinet, green and pink chairs, and a streak of neon light by Dutch designer Sabine Marcelis.
Paper Factor’s marble-like compound material in the ‘Transformative’ room.
‘Transformative’ is more monochrome and minimal; the room plays off the simple elegance of wood, glass and steel, and walls are covered with a paper material by Paper Factor that mimics marble.
At the end of the journey, guests receive an individual report: a watercolor circle colored in blues to represent moments of calm, and pink for when the visitor was stimulated.
As our world of choices for interiors expands, it’s helpful to have some guiding principles to follow. Do you feel happy the most at home in blacks and whites? Do shiny lights make you feel centered or excited? These things should be essential to know on an individual level when designing our home, the place that should be most private and personal to us. It’s surprising that we haven’t developed a streamlined process to articulate, through science and body responses, our personalized responses to design before.
But this installation is perhaps even more important to the designers present at Milan Design Week who participated in the journey, because they now have a new foundation to inform some of their design choices when they are designing for the rest of us.