Emotion creates space

This short snippet of conversation (2:34 mins — short and worth a watch) with architect Lars Spuybroek reverses the conventional paradigm around how we perceive space. Typically we think of space as static and ourselves as dynamic beings that move through it. But Spuybroek asserts that our sense of space is shaped by emotion, and is therefore much more fluid than we imagine.

When you’re happy, so to speak, or when you’re exhilirated your whole sense of space is totally different than when you’re moody or neutral or whatever. So there’s this whole idea of space being a byproduct of feeling instead of the other way around. That there is space and you just feel in there, no no, it’s feeling itself that actually creates space.

I think this is something we can all intuitvely relate to, and it has wonderful implications for design. If emotion can open up space, then inducing positive emotion can completely alter the way people experience a space. Aesthetics of joy, properly applied, could create a sense of expansion that could transform existing structures into spaces that feel good to inhabit. And as Spuybroek suggests, the aesthetics of joy that transform a space could even be portable, emanating from the people who occupy it.

Interview recorded by the Sputnik Observatory

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The Aesthetics of Joy is now a book! Joyful: The Surprising Power of Ordinary Things to Create Extraordinary Happiness is now available.

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