The sun warms our planet, provides us with light and is crucial to all life on Earth.
One of my readers asked me to talk about windowless rooms. I sent a query back to her explaining that rooms w/o windows can be so depressing. “What tactic do you want me to take? ”
Her answer: Safety from natural and man-made disasters. Not depressing.
Well folks, with my 40 plus years of interior design work, I can tell you that a windowless room can be depressing. So, before I talk about creating one that has live-in possibilities in case of disaster, I want to let you know that without access to natural light and fresh air, bacteria has no way to dissipate.
It’s the ultraviolet light of the sun that grows our veggies that make us healthy, and kills the bacteria that make us sick. Oh sure, you can get special indoor artificial lighting that does some sun imitation, but living in a space where there is no natural light of the sun, is not ideal. Not ideal physiologically or psychologically.
The president of the company always gets the corner office. The one with the windows. It’s not priority by seniority, it’s productivity by possibilities. The ones who make the decisions get the best window(s). Important decisions are made in this conference room.
Conference room with natural light, lots and lots and lots.
The more important it is, the bigger the windows. The industry tried to change this philosophy, but it did not work. The natural light makes the grade.
When’s the last time you gazed upward and marveled at the mysterious, life-giving force that is the sun?
If you believe the whole staring-at-the-sun-makes-you-go-blind thing (which is actually true), you’re probably not doing a whole lot of sun-gazing. But it’s a real marvel: The sun warms our planet every day, provides the light by which we see and is necessary for life on Earth. It can also cause cell death and make us blind. It could fit 1.3 million Earths inside its sphere [source: SpaceDaily]. It produces poem-worthy sunsets and as much energy as 1 trillion megaton bombs every second [source: Boston Globe].
All of this, and our sun is just a plain old average star, by universal standards. It’s really just proximity that makes it so special to Earth. We wouldn’t be here if the sun weren’t so close.
And what about cruise ships? My son Paul frequently goes on cruises with his friends and family. He gets an exterior stateroom with a balcony, but there are interior staterooms as well. But those staterooms have no balcony and are windowless.
Ship interior stateroom windowless
They use the old mirror trick to give the impression of light. The mirrors are in the oval/round shape of the ship windows. Not too shabby.
I prefer windows, even on a ship. A windowless room, bah, humbug. Even if you got stuck in a basement apartment when you got out of college, just a slit of a window inspired a happy dance. But if you have one of those theatre rooms,
Windowless Theatre Room
most likely in a lower level with no windows or you cover the window or eliminate the window. Now we are talking about an on-purpose windowless room. This room is not to live in unless…unless there has been a disaster and you must stay in this room until the disaster ends. The room pictured here is pretty fun to spend some time. Light colors and reflective surfaces, and if you turn out the lights and put on the movie projector, turn up the sound, munchies at hand, not too bad. Add battery powered lighting, shelving, canned/dried food/water and potty, some warm clothes, you got a great place to wait out a disaster.
A safe place, a secret room below ground, a tomb in a pyramid.
King Tuts Tomb
New for 2020. Tomb construction with all the amenities for windowless winning spaces. Protect the people, protect the environment.
King Tut's tomb map to make your own passage
Will this go over big in the future? Will we need to construct windowless rooms with secret passages to protect our sanity, our children, our lives?
Sun photo above courtesy of NASA
Styles, shapes, space. What did folks do to fit into a space, fit into a chair, fit on a throne. Our daily lives are so crowded with news, stories, headlines, we have become aware of the space around us. How do we find enough space? What is enough space? Did you know that space is calculated based on job type and position?
Did you read in Yahoo News on Monday September 12, 2011, White Castle is being sued by a stocky stock broker for not being able to fit his 290lb frame into the chain’s stationary booths? According to the customer, White Castle is in violation of the American with Disabilities Act. “I just want to sit down like a normal person,” he says. He compares himself to a pregnant woman and the handicapped.
Look at England’s Henri VIII, a really big guy. He would never fit into a White Castle booth. You can be sure his throne and furniture, of the 16th century Tudor period, was massive. Oak was the wood of the day, hard wood, hard to carve, hard to shape, but strong enough to accommodate a big person like Henri VIII.
Good space is premium. How much do we need to live and work and play? At work you may have a cubicle or a private office. At home you may enjoy a cozy, small, warm room with human scale ceilings (8′) or a large room with cathedral ceilings (13′ or higher). But the seating has to give the comfort you seek in your place of refuge.
Space in a chair, how big should it be? Chairs in the home, chairs in the office, chairs in your favorite restaurant. A place like White Castle, MacDonald’s and Burger King are people movers. They want you to eat and leave. Make the diners too comfortable, folks hang to visit with friends. Go where you pay a pretty price for a meal they better give you good seating. Then maybe, just maybe, you’ll stay for dessert.
So folks, have a seat. Try them out before you bring them to your home or office. How do you decide? Each have a purpose. With chair types and styles. Even Thoreau, in 1845, in his small cabin on the banks of Walden Pond, where he built a 10′ by 15′ house furnished with a bed, a table, a small desk and lamp, and three chairs — He wrote about his chairs, “one for solitude, two for friendship, three for society.” Today we have special chairs for every activity from watching games on television to working at the computer.
Office chairs need to be what is called “ergonomic.” It has to be adjustable, adjustable height, adjustable arms, adjustable pitch. A chair that gives you all those choices will cost a little more, but it is worth the price. Be sure the fabric is cleanable and durable. Leather is always great, but costly. Today, some imitation leathers are close to the real thing, just ask the seller if it is durable. Be sure to buy from a reliable source. Fabrics gather dust, especially black, but there are great fabrics that look good and are practical. Ask the seller to advise you. The image above is a “Herman Miller” hard mesh type, a material that does well. You don’t need comfort in the office, you need body support.
At home you need comfort. Your feet need to touch the floor, the seat should be sized to fit your body, the back should have the pitch that allows your feet to touch the floor. A standard chair has a seat height of 17-18 inches.
This chair is called a Fauteuil, French traditional (country) classic upholstered open armchair. It has allthree attributes, roomy seat, good pitch, and for most, your feet should touch the floor.
This is the “Barcelona Chair.” A contemporary classic design by Mies van der Rohe, designed in 1929. For most, because the seat is deep, your feet will not touch the floor. It is a beautiful design, found in most corporate offices to impress.
The image to the right is a 1925 Marcel Breuer contemporary classic. The “Cesca” chair is well-designed, functional, comfortable and practical. Do you recognize this popular chair? Have you owned one?
Remember the “Mitt chair” made by Stendig? You tell me, can we really tell White Castle to build bigger booths? Do you have chairs you love, do they give you comfort, do they give you the space you need to function, do they support your body?
Philip Johnson Glass House Contemporary Interior, New Canaan, CT
Please note the clean, contemporary, organized space in the Philip Johnson Glass House.
All images are from Victoria Lyon Interiors www.victorianlyoninteriors.com.
This week’s blog is about space, order and design and has nothing to do with taste. Taste is ambiguous and personal. You can apply your taste to any of the basic concepts discussed.
The images above are vignettes of traditional design.
Old world elegance mixes with modern colors and textures to create the master bath/dressing area for the lady with very discriminating tastes. Designer Victoria Lyon says her space “evokes the casual elegance of an English country house,” but also brings in modern touches that “let us know that the lady of this manor definitely belongs to the 21st century“.
The dressing area features sweeping curtains, a feminine skirted dressing table and a plush chaise. Old world fixtures, a free standing burnished metal tub and a sparkling marble shower create a bathroom with character and class.
The image below “Traditional Country” is an uncluttered, well-organized, well-designed space. The soft, warm color on the vertical planes (walls) is comforting and pleasing. Warm deep colors have vibrations, move forward into the room and take up visual space.
Traditional Country www.victorialyoninteriors.com
Crowding can cause conflict in a life, in a mate, in a child. All this talk about beauty, function, good design, what does it mean? If you like lots of stuff around you, okay. But how is it arranged? Is there order? Is there negative space, meaning quiet space? A place of peace?
Function … what in the world? Clocks have a function, cars have a function, computers have a function. So what has function got to do with space? Space has to provide a place for you to stand up, lie down, sleep, wake. And all the activities in-between. Where do you write your checks, where do you write your stories, where do you play? If you have any, where are the kids, where do they snack, where do they do homework, where do they play?
Here are a few examples of functional items. Clocks, clocks tell time, what would we do without time? Cars are constructed to take you from point a to point b, computers output and input information. If we take a look at the world around us, everything we need is organized in some way.
You may like contemporary, you may like traditional, you may like the American style (mixture of both), it doesn’t matter. The images above are well-designed, well-organized, functional spaces.
Nineteenth century Victoriana had no specific order. The more stuff squeezed into a space, the more it supposedly displayed great wealth.
Order is important for our well-being.
Thank you to Victoria Lyon interiors for her gracious participation in this blog. www.victorialyoninteriors.com.
Come back next week for more Victoriana surprises. Remember to post your comments. I especially enjoy your inquiries and challenges.
What about you, your home, your office, your play space? You love clutter. OK! But is it organized?