Recently a friend of mine who loves preparing delicious foods and hosting parties and events volunteered to take charge of serving a wedding luncheon for our son. She informed me afterwards that many people raved about the food. She said I would surely be asked for recipes, since guests asked her about the ingredients. When she told them she was merely serving, some even asked if she would taste items and help them guess the particular blend of spices or ingredients in main dishes, sauces or dressings. She replied that she could not. She has no sense of taste.
What a marvelous thing it is to possess five senses: sight, touch, hearing, taste and smell. Like many others, I usually take them for granted, although I do often think about how grateful I am that I can see, that I might marvel at nature’s beauty and thrill to the loveliness of well-appointed interior spaces. Indeed without sight, I would not be enjoying a career in the dynamic and amazing world of interior design—and likely neither would you!
Feeling the World Around Us
The heat of August can make us all aware of the sensual qualities of our surroundings. As we wear fewer layers of clothing we feel more of the world around us: the gentle evening breezes, the intense heat of sunshine, the soothing cool water in the pool, the sand and salty sea breeze at the beach.
We often enjoy views of nature more in the summer. That’s not to say that every season doesn’t have its aesthetic appeal. In the summer, however, the view beckons us to enjoy its company. We relish the thought of basking in the sunshine, drinking in the light of the sunset or feeling alive in the dawn and dusk of the day. Summer is the season of sensual reward, a time of life, light and loveliness.
In some places, summer is sultry—too hot and too humid. I have an aged mother who lives in a hot climate. Once she wrote me this little quip, “I wouldn’t go out and look at a flower if it dared to bloom in this heat!”
For those places where summer can be as hot as Hades, we’re more likely to hang out in our temperature-controlled houses where we can feel a desired level of comfort and still enjoy the contrast of light and shadow, the color and foliage, the scenery and water that are associated with the hottest season of the year.
The Magical Element
For all who experience their senses without limitation, window coverings and fine interior design appeal to the two senses that bring us much pleasure: sight and touch. Here may be discovered a valuable aspect of providing quality products to the customer’s living and working spaces. It is the enhancement of their sensory experience.
This may be defined as making the customer aware of the sensory pleasure and a more full or rich life experience by “seeing” the refined aesthetics of light and shadow, of and relief and dimension. It is also increasing an awareness of feeling the thrill of sensual touch—the contrast, perhaps of rough to smooth, or warm to cold surfaces. We read texture in two ways. First through our eyes, known as visual texture; and, second, through the touch, which is tactile texture. These two provide interest and balance, which result in a healthy satisfaction as we occupy a space.
Fabric is a magical element. Sheer fabrics can be installed as draperies, curtains (tied-back or straight-hung panels) and top treatments, or used in the ever expanding manufactured products utilizing sheer or semi-sheer fabric in a horizontal or vertical blind application or as sliding panels. Many customers embrace the idea of using sheers and shadings because they soften light and because the light coming through color fabric adds to the visual and sensual ambiance of the room. Window treatments constructed of fabric draw immediate attention to the window, which in turn impacts the atmosphere of the interior, thereby enhancing the sensory experience of the inhabitants.
In a world of harshness, crime, fear, natural disaster and alarming rising costs of living, many people need to reconnect to positive, encouraging feelings. As professionals, we can provide comfort to our customers through the softness of sensual elements. To see, to feel. This is to live.
Karla J. Nielson, Allied ASID, WCAA, is assistant professor of design at Brigham Young University. She has authored several books including Window Treatments, Understanding Fabrics and Interiors: An Introduction, 3rd Ed. Nielson is a regular correspondent for Draperies & Window Coverings addressing the areas of fashion, education and merchandising.