Defining Overused Design Expression: Clean, Warm, Practical...

Social media has definitely changed the game for designers out there (whether it's for logo, fashion, architecture, interior) and for me, it's definitely for the better. Platforms like Houzz, Pinterest and Instagram has flooded home owners with plethora of design inspiration without cluttering homes (as magazine and books do) and the ability to do it quickly (not needing to wait for next month's issue).

What usually follows is a collection of very subjective terms to describe a design style or mood. What actually constitute the difference between a modern and contemporary interior style, really? (cue Miranda Priestly).

One recent example is an owner who mentioned that they like dark ambience interiors, only to find out after vetting through their mood images that there were just interior photographs taken at night. So moving forward, certain lighting strategy became the focus rather than wondering why darker finishes were rejected.

While I always like request home owners we work with to send over their mood images, I like to take it a step closer to explore and clarify what they like about any particular image. Or to clarify overused descriptions like these;

1. Clean

Could it mean (CIM)?: Minimal decoration and furnishings.

CIM?: Minimal textured finishes (textured paint, timber feature walls).

CIM?: Cabinet doors without mouldings and handles.

2. Warm

CIM?: Usage of warm toned lighting (spotlights, eyeballs).

CIM?: Darker toned timber finishes.

CIM?: Using plants and/ or warm ambient decor.

3. Simple

CIM?: Consistent design features without excessive micro-detailing.

CIM?: Almost-OCD/ minimal materials variation

4. Practical

CIM?: Minimal or no feature walls (purely visual features).

CIM?: Work flow of any area should resemble current habits and way of living?

This is a major point that comes up quite often. Practicality is always linked with habit and it is our responsibility as a designer to understand what that is to whom. A work table with a row of shallow drawers below is practical for someone who requires storage, but impractical for someone taller who requires more leg room and prefers pedestal style storage.

Design or any sense is a process. Anyone who jumps straight into working on the end product or result is doing a disservice, whether you're providing or receiving such services. Like a doctor who prescribes before doing thorough diagnosis.


You may also be interested in:

Blog post: Feng-Shui influenced space planning principles.

Product: Preview of our range of multi-usage furniture line

Project: 2-storey link semi-detached in Ipoh.

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