• Daryl Layson

Aesthetics - Just a Social Media Craze?

Before beginning my college career, I thought I was going to major in Interior Design. I always had a love for it and also had the "eye" for design. I was even accepted into the Art Institute of Chicago for the Interior Design program. I've always had a talent and interest in design, aesthetics, and the psychology behind it. Recently, it seems that the importance of aesthetics has become a huge craze, especially amongst millennials. Some people may say the importance of aesthetics became popular with the rise of social media, especially Instagram and Pinterest, driven by millennials. You know, needing the perfect space, background, decor, lighting, and overall "vibes" to capture a picture-perfect moment for all to see. I'd say this may be partially true, but I think the importance of aesthetics runs much deeper than a picturesque moment - the importance of aesthetics is connected to the human psychology and our emotions.


Speaking for myself, I am extremely affected by my environment. The lighting, decor, color schemes, scents, and even sounds all play a distinct role in my mood - whether feeling inspired, excited, or gloomy, and unmotivated. There are places I will not go to shop or go to eat if I'm not fond of the aesthetics or overall environment of the space. So, the importance of aesthetics is definitely a factor that transcends into my spaces.


Many elements in a home can have a significant impact on a person's overall mood, such as colors. Colors can generate or enhance certain emotions simply by its hue. This is a concept so deeply rooted in our minds that we even use it to describe how we feel – we may say we feel blue or that someone is green with envy. Based on color psychology, we know that bold color shades like yellow and orange often suggest a feeling of energy and excitement, green and hues of cool blue often suggests a feeling of calm and tranquility, while dark hues like purple, deep blue, red, and darker shades of green can sometimes reflect a feeling gloominess. Even in my own personal space, much of my color scheme incorporates hues of blues and gray and white paired with greenery to really give a sense of zen, peace, and tranquility in the space that I call home.


Another important factor that adds to the overall aesthetic of a space is lighting. Lighting is often the number one factor in making or breaking the overall ambience of a space. A space's aesthetic can drastically change simply by a switch in lighting because various light sources can "react" differently based on the hues of the elements in the room. A good example is when you're getting dressed - your "black" pants may look black while at home, but when you step outside, in a different light source, you realize they're actually navy blue. Just as various light sources "change" the color appearance of your clothing, it can also do the same to the colors of your home decor suggesting a "false" mood.


There are many ways to change the lighting of your space and the easiest way is by replacing your lightbulbs. I used to have lightbulbs that were of a warm hue, however, the yellow/orange-ish color the bulb gave off was not a visually pleasing compliment to the cool blues and grays in the space. I switched every bulb in my space to LED bulbs that were of a daylight/cool hue and paired it with white lampshades so that a smooth, cool, white light would illuminate the space. The cool, white light reflecting on the icy blues and grays in the space makes the overall ambience feel bright and calming. On the other hand, the best lighting source is, of course, the sun, so the number and size of the windows in the room can boost one’s happiness, increase sadness, or enhance anxiety. If you have a space with an abundance of windows, consider yourself lucky.


Besides colors and lighting, the textures and shapes of the furniture and objects in the house can also evoke certain emotional responses. The soft, furry texture of pillows, rugs, and blankets can enhance the sense of comfort and coziness, while the decorative metal, wood, or leather elements, such as a wall clock, vase, or couch etc...can evoke a sense of strength and toughness. Often times, we may see a man's home office space designed utilizing the metal, wood, and/or leather elements because it directly relates to how society generally views men - being strong, independent, and tough.


For my own personal spaces, I think it's important to include small things that bring about great memories or may even provide inspiration for a future goal. I believe seeing those elements every day in your space subconsciously feeds your brain bits of happiness, motivation, and gratefulness. I've included in my home a travel wall, displaying photos from various places I've traveled. I have a book with the words, "New York", in large, bold print on it because one day I hope to live in New York City. I have art on my wall because I consider myself to be a creative and I truly have an appreciation for the arts. And I also have countless oils and candles because having a fresh aroma filling my space provides an extra sense of calm in conjunction with the visual aesthetics of my space.


We've all heard the quote, "Home is where the heart is." or "Home is a happy place.", while this is correct, it’s important to realize that homes are not promoting happiness per se, but they can be molded and designed in a way that promotes good mood and health....and great social media photos LOL!

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