The average American can spend a year of his life looking for lost items. Clutter creates both a psychological and physiological effect occupying physical space and clogging the mind. Spaces we design are relatively free of spatial clutter and confusing circulation. People generally say that they feel serene, more comfortable, and better able to focus in spaces we have designed.
Organized environments contribute to relaxation which contributes positively to the overall guest experience. Consider how first time guests arrive at a new large hotel where they need a GPS system in order to find their way around its endless corridors or to the hidden elevators. I think we have all experienced that frustration. Spatial organization provides psychological comfort, taking away the anxiety brought about by getting lost and losing your way, and reinforcing a more positive and enjoyable experience.
One can only imagine the time one spends lost in complicated buildings where the design didn’t focus on clear guest circulation. The same holds true for design. An overstimulated environment can create discomfort and stress. Our design approach reinforces the canon from Mies van der Rohe, that “Less is More.” Our work focuses on spatial organization and decluttering design.
We design our projects around a spatial concept, often as a result of some of the inherent qualities of the specific site. For instance, with the Littman residence, our overall goal was to take advantage of the abundant light in the space, and link it to the rooftop garden. To achieve this, we worked with a simple design concept and idea of “entry, path + goal.” From the entry, we created a linear path leading to a sculptural stair that led to the client’s rooftop sculpture garden. This axis also delineated public spaces to the left and private spaces to the right. The plan was one of clarity versus complexity, and this clear sense of circulation and spatial organization not only brought ease to visitors, but became a calm sanctuary for our client.
Another example would be our current project, a 16,000 square foot integrated health facility. Here, the objective was to create a very clear patient path into the building. From the parking lot, patients are welcomed under a canopied entryway, and visually directed to the front desk.
Once at the reception desk, they view the “healing garden” beyond, a central two-story space with clerestory windows creating a relaxed natural environment, which acts as a social condenser. In private cabanas within the healing garden, clients meet for the first time with a life coach, to help determine which areas in their lives they would like to focus on. From there, the client may branch off into any number of options; go to a changing room, a clinical room or a fitness area. These spaces are linked to simplify the patient experience. An uncomplicated circulation path allows patients to feel more comfortable, moving through the medical process and procedures with ease.
Spatial organization and uncluttered design provide for a higher quality of life, allowing one to enjoy a more calm and balanced journey.