Tag Archives: Architecture

Curation and a Temporary Space.

Two good family friends have recently done a remodel of their bungalow style kitchen in Oakland California. It feels like they have been talking about it for years, but unlike some other people I know, the understanding that their old kitchen was eventually going to be re-done did not stop them from living, loving, and finding happiness in the kitchen they already had.

I have just moved into a Victorian share house (roommate situation) from the turn of the Century in the Beach town of St. Kilda and will be moving out to go back to school in mid-february. So, in a sense I am also just about to move out. This has made it difficult for me to make the space my own, feeling like it is just too temporary. Yesterday, I couldn’t take it any more and had to “personalize.” (picture is of the fireplace mantle opposite from my bed).

I am constantly thinking about spaces that make me happy, and how spaces make others happy and I realized that for me, often a happy space, is one that I have owned. I have started thinking about it as curation. Some spaces are spaces that others have curated and others are spaces that I have curated. It doesn’t always mean I have designed the space top to bottom on an endless budget, but that I have made it mine.

My corner of the architecture studio is an example of this. I look out over a table where I have organized my materials and books to a gallery of sculpture studios, at the end of every term I have to completely disassemble my set-up hoping for a prime location the following term.

Th place that I return to in the library at school to study is an example of this. I always turn my chair away from the main part of the building, bring a cozy blanket, and look out the window.

I realized there are spaces I am comfortable curating temporarily, my room in St. Kilda being one of them.

There is something that I have been noticing in the submissions: a sense of familiarity. Maybe you are made happy by a space you have been to repeatedly, or by a space that you have many memories, or by a space that reminds you of another space. Some of these are spaces you “curated,” some are spaces others have curated. Does one make you happier than the other?

Even when I am happy in a space someone else has “curated” I always feel the urge to shift a vas, or change the wall color, or advise the curator on the wattage of their light bulbs. It is in an ownership of space that I feel most happy, even if the ownership is acknowledgedly fleeting.

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What I’m Reading Now.

Last week I flew from LAX to Melbourne, Australia to work on (the) happy spaces project. As the flight is 18 hours long (with the stop over in Sydney) I figured it was time to pick up a good book that would inspire this project.

I stumbled across Alain de Boton’s 2006 book The Architecture of Happiness in one of my favorite used bookstores in San Francisco [my copy of the book is in the picture].The book’s  focus is less on happiness, in the way that the happy spaces focuses on happiness, and more on a sensitivity towards space.

However, what I’m starting to notice through the submissions from users, and my own observations, is that simply noticing a space, be it happy or sad or something else, is crucial in identifying how that space makes one feel. There are so many spaces that make us uncomfortable, even in an incredibly discreet manner; to take notice of all of them would certainly be too overwhelming.

Perhaps in taking notice of the spaces that make us happy, that bring us delight, that makes us calm, or enthusiastic is we will better use our spaces, better understand our preferences, maybe even better regulate our emotions.

Alain Boton wrote about The Architecture of Happiness on his website:

“One of the great, but often unmentioned, causes of both happiness and misery is the quality of our environment: the kind of walls, chairs, buildings and streets we’re surrounded by.

And yet a concern for architecture and design is too often described as frivolous, even self-indulgent. The Architecture of Happiness starts from the idea that where we are heavily influences who we can be – and argues that it is architecture’s task to stand as an eloquent reminder of our full potential.”

On Page 98 Boton writes:

“We seek associations of peace in our bedrooms, metaphors for generosity and harmony in our chairs, and an air of honesty and forthrightness in our taps. We can be moved by a column that meets a roof with grace, by worn stone steps that hint at wisdom and by a Georgian doorway that demonstrates playfulness and courtesy in its fanlight window.”

We have already developed (sometimes) subconscious associations with spaces, perhaps it is time to let ourselves notice our physical environments and allow them to positively affect us.

The Architecture of Happiness by Alain de Botton
Vintage Books
ISBN: 0307277240
288 pages

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