The Paradox of Design: How to Balance Innovation and the Comfort of the Familiar

Innovation Vs. the Familiar

As a designer there is always a strong urge to want to innovate and create something brand new.  However, as much as most people think they want to be different they also want to cling to the familiar, i.e., favorite brands, clothes, cars, sneakers, etc.  Even foods, coined comfort foods, are based on the familiar.  The familiar has the power to help one reminisce and conjure up past images, one of happy feelings and desires, joy, anticipation, and bliss.  Maybe that’s why 85% or more of our houses look identical.

So how can we as designers balance the “old” or the familiar with the “new” and the innovative?

It is important to design creatively while providing the sensation of “memory.”  This is not a new concept. Here is a quote discussing such dispositions from an article entitled, Science Studies How Architecture Affects the Brain:

“Architectural experience is recorded in what Antonio Damasio calls “dispositions” — records in our brain of a combination of sensory inputs, memories, emotions and any related muscle memories. Just below the surface of consciousness these dispositions wait for the next experience with which they can be paired. For example, each time we enter the office in which we work we are recalling a dispositional record of our last visit — including any emotional experiences we may have had. When we leave our office at the end of the day, our brain creates a new dispositional record that updates the one we came with that morning.” (Recording Device 1) (Recording Device 2)

Design with this in mind – the space should allow the occupants to capture the past and allow them the ability to record future memories.

We would love to hear from you on what you think about this post.  We sincerely appreciate all your comments.

If you like this post please share it with friends. And feel free to contact us if you would like to discuss ideas for your next project!

Frank Cunha III
I Love My Architect – Facebook

P.O. Box 335, Hamburg, NJ 07419
mobile: 201.681.3551
direct: 973.970.3551
fax: 973.718.4641
Licensed in NJ, NY, PA, DE, CT.

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