When we think about art in interior design, our mind may gravitate to images of canvases and prints hanging on a wall in some undefined
office space, hotel room, or waiting area. Art, from this
perspective, serves as mere decoration, a way to fill a
visual vacuum. Of course, art is much more than that.
Art gives us an immediate connection to place. It
speaks to us about where we are and why. It may reflect
the local history or geography. Or it may deliver a message
about the company or service we are dealing with, to let
us know they are creative, classy, hip, or what have you. In
a personal space, like a home or office, art gives us insight
into the person who works or lives there—their taste, their
aspirations, their affinity for certain people or things.
Beyond its function as imagery, art has great emotive
power. I am speaking not only of art’s ability to evoke
feelings of awe, reverence, and gaiety but also of its
capacity to facilitate positive behaviors and outcomes. It
has long been held that the difference between aesthetic
emotions and other emotions is that aesthetic emotions
do not motivate practical behavior. But recent research
shows the division may not be quite so neat, and that
has important implications for the use of art in interiors.
82 INTERIORS & SOURCES SEPTEMBER 2015
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The impact of art on the human experience runs
much deeper than mere surface appeal.
By Stephanie Clemmons, Ph.D., FASID, FIDEC