The Neighbourhood of Feelings

Mirentxu Sardina

EASD Castello (Spain) Interior Design

In interior design projects, our students get into trouble by getting emotionally involved or by having conceptual arguments.  In response, I have developed an exercise that I call ‘the neighborhood of feelings’, an introduction to the emotional aspects of interior design and an exercise in getting to know each other.

The teacher asks the students to bring a shoe box to school. In class, they will each get a card that describes a ‘feeling’, a positive or a negative one.  For example, a card may read: distress, joy, fear, or love. Once they get that card, they become a person with that feeling. For example, they become Mr. or Mrs. Joy.

I instruct the students that this box is a ‘home’ , and the aim is to build a cross-section of a house. In the exercise they work with materials, they open ’holes’ in the box for light, they add colors, and they intervene by dividing the space.  Overall, they are creating a ‘scenery’ where they should be transmitting the feeling’ of the role they were given.

Once all the shoe box ‘homes have been created by the students, they are being compiled into a neighborhood. In the neighborhood,  meetings are being conducted between neighbors, like the ones that happen in real life. Each student introduces themselves with the feeling cards (e.g.  Mr./Mrs. Stress ) and instead of explaining who they are, they explain their ‘home’, the space they have created, and why.

Teaching students Conceptual Thinking on how space can change the way you are feeling is challenging. Through the exercise, students learn how spaces can express emotions and how  light , materials, textures, proportions, all work together in order to support emotion. This ability to think conceptually about space and emotion informs their Spatial Design Development. Finally, the exercise helps students in Managing Communication when they have meetings in the Neighborhood of Feelings by opening up personally, sharing emotional response and making connections to each other.

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