Psychodesigning: not the design of psychos
What is it about your house that makes you love it? Is it that warm baked bread smell wafting from the oven? The earthy, dense lair you have created in the basement that makes you feel so safe and secure? Is your bedroom cozy and sweet? A place that allows you that sense of security and restfulness that you get nowhere else, except maybe an island oasis? Probably a little bit from column A and a little bit from column B, right? The good people at Psychology Today have given us a wonderful glimpse into past psychology papers to state that maybe there is a theory behind why people love or hate where they live.
When I first read the phrase “Psychodesigning,” I immediately thought of American Psycho and the stark white and sterile details- or lack thereof- which Bret Easton Ellis brilliantly elaborates on for his loved-yet-hated Patrick Bateman’s Manhattan loft. Ah, P-Bate… true Psycho, who loved design. That isn’t what Psychology Today was talking about, though. Not the design of psychos, but what people like or don’t like in their homes and why it might be that we are drawn to what we are drawn to.
The term was coined in 1949
The term “Psychodesigning” was coined by NY based architect and designer, Leopold Kleiner, in 1949. He determined that there were specific homes that made either an introvert or extrovert comfortable and that homes needed to be designed to meet the needs of these people. Kleiner’s position was that “extroverts required neutral environments that did not steal attention from themselves, for example, while introverts needed rooms with vibrant hues. Emotional states and even climate too played a role in one’s ‘psycho-potential,” said Kleiner.
“For a nervous extrovert living in New York, I would advise rooms done in gray, beige or tans,” he advised, as “the introduction of loud colors something that could send a high-strung Gothamite over the edge.” Brilliant.
A real world examples of the impact of Pschodesigning
One instance I recently have noted is that I had a client who wanted a larger space, but when we got into the larger space that they so desired, it was “not at all what they were looking for.” It was painted a warm neutral. Interesting. We went to a space that was exactly the same size as the other, which was painted in a more muted-gray color and… disco… we were magically in the right home for their family!
Also along these same lines, I had a client who was building a new home, and the wife wanted what she called “the bed-womb” a t-tiny space with a mere porthole for light. She wanted the room to be like a nest so she’d feel safe and calm, and not have a lot of space to wander around in; plus, it needed to be a dark color. If the room had even been 5 feet wider, it would not have made her feel “right” in her own home. Interesting, indeed.
Today, we see so many colors, not just builder beige, but colors galore, styles, textures and even scents to correct and determine mood. Aromatherapy in conjunction with psychodesign? Would this send Kleiner into outerspace? Probably not. It would just further the thought that everyone is different, our minds, our bodies and how we react to things- art, architecture and it apparently isn’t just an aesthetic appeal, but a deeply emotional one.