The importance of perception in interior design

The importance of perception in interior design

Our MAD scientist Dirk Bollen gave a lecture on perception at Stulens Office design. For a group of bachelor and master interior design students at UHasselt, they provided an inspiring setting for a presentation entitled ‘Zotter moet het niet worden’ (It doesn’t have to get crazier than this). The title refers to our perception's awkward qualities in creating our own reality.

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How is our perception formed?

The lecture started with the basics; how does our sensory system transform the information in the outside world into an electric signal. From the moment a signal is transformed, basal processing already takes place. That means that from the moment something is perceived, its original signal is already adapted. In the next phases of processing, all sorts of calculations are executed on these signals. Knowledge from previous interactions with an environment (retained in our memory) also influence these signals. Eventually the construction of our own reality is a combination of information from the outside world and knowledge stored within our mind.

The second part of the lecture focused more on how our reality is formed and adjusted. The strong association between the different senses influence our perception. E.g. an ‘acquired’ association between colour and taste can be used to enhance an experience. A good example is the ‘Singleton Sensorium’, that experiments with how the design of a space can influence the perception of the taste of whiskey.

The Singleton Sensorium from Condiment Junkie on Vimeo.


Perception used in (interior) design

Knowledge from psychology and perception is essential in design. We can acquire valuable insights by understanding how people take in information from their environment, process it and transform it into a certain behaviour. It helps to know who we’re designing for. Unraveling the characteristics of human behaviour leads to new angles in the design process. The combination of creative freedom and well-founded knowledge of human behaviour takes the design process to a higher level.


Quotes from attendants

The lecture was very well received by both lecturers and students.

“At Stulens we always keep an open mind towards the future. How can psychology and the study of perception give us a new perspective on the design process?

As a design office, we would like to contribute to the expression of the soul of a space. We want a space to have a positive effect on its users/inhabitants. Colours stimulate concentration, inspiration and creativity, communication, relaxation.

Dirk’s lecture gave us some fresh insights on how our reality is created by our previous experiences and characteristics of our senses. Not only our rod and cone cells are stimulated by light and colour. There is also the immeasurable, the emotional aspect. Colour, light and shadow deeply influence the human being.” Interior design office Stulens -

“The inspiring setting at Stulens confirmed the atmosphere of the lecture. Dirk Bollen brought us a good presentation for ‘de zotten’ with buckets full of enthousiasm.” Raphaël Thijs, Simon Moons 2baIAr -

“The lecture at Stulens was unexpected, Dirk Bollen captivated us with the subject.”  Benita Niessen, Gwen Dupont 2baIAr -