Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Feed the Senses When Setting Up Your Creative Space

Do you have a favorite restaurant? Is it the food that makes it your favorite place to have an enjoyable evening out? ...the service? ...the aroma? ...fresh flowers on the tables? such as candlelight? ...or the overall ambiance (a combination of the aforementioned)? I would venture to guess it may be a combination all of these things. I suggest you relate your studio to this same theory. For you to want to spend hours in your studio, it helps to address all the senses or aspects and not just the visual decor.

Sight is the sense we normally consider most often when we design/decorate our studios. We choose colors we like as well as the decor such as accessories, cabinets and seating. We arrange things in what we feel is pleasing to the eye whether it is a clean and uncluttered look, displaying our supplies and equipment all out in the open where we can see them, or utter chaos.
What about our other senses? Shouldn't they be equally as important?

Hearing. Quiet, peace, soft music, loud or crazy music, kids playing, cat's purring, dog's barking, the sound of bird's singing, our inner voice, or the television noise in the background - these are the sounds that affect our sense of hearing. What do you hear in your studio? Don't forget to address the sound as it can have either a positive or negative effect as you work in your studio. If you have unpleasant sounds, out of your control, consider having music to cover those sounds or possibly even soundproofing your studio.

Touch. What does your space feel like? Is there a lot of interesting textures either in the fabrics or on the hard surfaces? Perhaps it is all smooth, satin-like surfaces. Everything has texture of some sort, whether it be wood, textiles, metal, concrete etc. If you have a monochromatic room, lots of texture can add interest to an otherwise uninteresting room. Decorators will often tell you it is good to have a balance of soft (curtains, pillows, rugs and upholstered furniture for example) and hard (walls, metal or wood furniture, etc.) in the room. This is not always practical or preferred in a arts and craft studio. A wood shop might seem a bit silly and not too practical if fitted with pillows and curtains. A sewing room or other such studio can easily be overrun by softness. It is up to you to evaluate your space to determine if you feel there is an appropriate balance.

Smell. I may be just one of a few, but certain scents inspire me. Do you feel that way? My college thesis was based on this theory. I did a series of watercolor paintings of homes from my past surrounded by portals of flowers that I would naturally associate with the homes. The sight and smell of Lilacs always remind me of my grandparents' home as they always had a row of huge lilac bushes along the entire length of the driveway when I was a child. Peonies remind me of the home I grew up in. There were several varieties and shades of peonies in our yard that had been planted there by my great grandparents. So many various floral scents bring back good memories for me and a good feeling overall of comfort and warmth. A simple scented candle, potpourri, fresh flowers or other source of smell might add what is missing in your studio.

Taste. This is probably the least relative sense when it comes to the studio unless you are a cake decorator or something. Although I will throw in here that there is nothing like the morning sunshine and sipping on a fresh brewed cup of coffee or tea to get your day going in the right direction. Keep in mind if you work around certain materials or chemicals, this sense should probably not even be a part of your studio. A good example would be that a glass artist should not be working with lead based materials while eating a sandwich. It is simply a safety issue.

'The Sixth Sense'. Is there a sixth sense? This subject has been discussed and debated. It has been described in a myriad of ways. To me it is a feeling that comes from within you. A sense of comfort, inspiration, freedom, control, accomplishment, total chaos, despair, or happiness all somewhat controlled by the other five senses. Feng Shui is based on this. It is difficult to describe. It is psychological. It is the uncomfortable feeling you get when your back is toward the door type of feeling. Observe where people tend to sit when they enter a restaurant, church, a classroom or a board room. Does the area you work at the most feel comfortable to you? When you go through images of other studios, your imagination tells you what it must be like to be there through association to your experience. You can't see the sounds or smells.

Although the image I'm sharing isn't glamorous, it is an image to look at as you think about these things. Imagine music playing in the background the smell of homemade treats on the table and the scent of the vanilla scented candles and all your supplies in a logical order where you can readily find them, just waiting for your magic touch. This is the sort of room that invites you in to be creative. OK, now would you feel the same about this room if you knew there was a lot of construction noise going on or a constant odor that overpowered any temptation to snack, the supplies and materials were not in their intended or a logical spot, there is a draft from the vent above causing your supplies to blow off onto the floor, the room is hot or too cold, the chair you are sitting in isn't comfy or blocks any good lighting or leaves you facing the corner? Even though nothing in the space has changed, doesn't it appear less inviting? Another question - just going by this image, which chair would you navigate toward as you entered the area? I hope this post has given you new information to think about and to consider addressing in your space. Make your studio as inviting and comfortable as you can...pleasing all the senses!

LINK: I didn’t have time to research bloggers in the process of organizing this week, but I did happen to find this following blog with a great tutorial (among other numerous tutorials) on making a great ‘popcorn box’. Think shape, not design of the box. They look great as storage containers!


Magpie's Mumblings said...

Lots of food for thought here - thank you! Enjoyed seeing the 'popcorn boxes' too....another idea to file away for future reference.

Mel M. M. McCarthy said...

What a unique and ingenious way to think about your studio space. I've never thought about senses and my craft room before, but now that you mention it, it makes so much sense. I'm going to look around with new eyes now. I really love how you included the safety info in the taste section (my SIL is a glass artist) and how you included the 6th sense. SO true, especially for artists. Thanks so much for the link and the great read!