Jennifer Kolenda, Interior Designer
Story telling has been around for over 30,000 years. It started with simple cave drawings, then evolved into oral forms, and finally into the written word. With the introduction of modern technologies, the media available to tell a story has broadened exponentially, allowing us to utilize every human sense. As architects and interior designers, our stories don’t come from the written or spoken word but by using pattern, color, imagery, and materials.
We begin every new project by asking questions. What is the purpose or function of the space or building? Who are the users? What does the client wish to achieve? Once we have established the answers to these questions, we can begin to develop the story the project will tell. For example, a restaurant design can introduce or enhance the cuisine and dining experience and a retail store will communicate the brand— what the brand stands for or is influenced by.
The next step is creating a mood board, or story board. This board can consist of images, color schemes, and various materials. Once color, materials, and images are selected, they are used to start laying the story so the designer can bring it to life. For the “The River City” project, we were able to evoke the feeling of the surrounding biome within the building. The paint colors were selected to capture the colors seen in nature around the river. Natural curves throughout the building mimic the movement of the river. The selected imagery defines the spaces using pictures and graphics of rivers, rocks, trees, flowers, grasses, and cattails found throughout the surrounds.
When telling a story with design, the space or building is not always telling a literal story. The story is simply told by how you feel while you are using the space. Do the surroundings evoke a sense of calm, inspiration, energy? These are just a few of the stories that could be told. Next time you are in a space, take a look around and think about what story it is telling.