Perception is reality
“Everything you see or hear or experience in any way at all is specific to you.”— Douglas Adams, author, scriptwriter, essayist, humorist, satirist and dramatist
There is usually an automatic, instinctual response to surroundings or factors that affect our person, whether a single object, a texture, color, mood, or a combination of stimuli hard to put one’s finger on. It is important to be conscious of our perceptions, often created for us in controlled public environments, and weigh them against our physical and emotional responses, others’ experiences, and the limitations we may be setting for ourselves in enjoyment, depth of experience, discovery and outward projection.
Things are not always as they appear. Marketers, magicians, and artists count on making you see things as theywant you to see them. As a mainstay in the history of décor, the technique of trompe l’oeil (“trick the eye” in French) is applied through painting on canvas or walls to create an optical illusion. The mind attempts to fill in the details of something it either thinks it already knows or does not quite understand— a technique that works well when used intentionally. However, if what we want the world to see is different than what is being portrayed, therein lies the rub.
A recent anecdotal experience of this subject was had at themercy of a stylist. Seemingly open to what he might suggest and create for wardrobe additions, what unfolded was a realization of very pre-conceived notions about figure and style and assumptions for what “worked” or would not work. It was a cathartic opportu- nity to make a shift in thinking. Perhaps you are one who does not like prints, or associates certain textures or colors such as gold or olive, boucle or velvet with something negative fromthe past. What if you were open to the possibility that an entirely new reality could be created, one that required the shedding of those old notions? What if you painted your walls a dark color with depth, against your fear that it might make the room feel smaller?
Think about the story you are living right now. Is it more haphazard and disparate, or highly orchestrated and curated? Was it a conscious creation or heavily influenced by family, friends, social groups, media, or educational institutions? If the narrative no longer fits or serves you, then change the perception. Thomas Jefferson said, “That which we surround ourselves with becomes the museum of the soul and the archive of our experience.”
Often our values are demonstrated or perceived rightly or wrongly in our personal and business environments with the artwe choose, the expression of color, or the collection of furniture and belongings. Guests seek and find cues through key elements such as materials and finishes, imagery and motif, furnishings, fixtures, art, and objects. Rightly or wrongly, first or last impressions can result in value judgements. When this applies to our home, it might merely create misconception. When this is applied to our business space, it can be the difference of return patrons and recommendations or not.
It is better to direct the perceptions. As interior designers and style-makers, we can change perception into the reality that can be experienced: new contexts for old paradigms, belief systems and associations. Interior designers are well-adept at crafting the perceptions of those who experience a space. How might you write your story or the story of your business? How can your personal or business surroundings reflect that story?
Heather Van Luchene, ASID and Steffany Hollingsworth, ASID are partners in HVL Interiors, LLC, an interior-design firm offering professional residential and hospitality design services. Both are New Mexico-licensed interior designers. They can be reached at (505) 983-3601 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Suite at the Covent Garden Hotel, London, with interiors by Kit Kemp