The importance of inhabiting beautiful spaces

Chloe Hansen, Opinion Columnist

The human mind thrives on beauty. We ache for the picturesque; we heavily decorate our spaces; we take breaks from our own designs to enjoy the aesthetics of nature; we decorate ourselves in a great variety of fashions and may pass through many modes of visual theme and taste. A few days ago, I was standing atop my dorm-allotted wooden chair with a straightedge tool smoothing swathes of green wallpaper over custardy Prentiss paint, when I began to wonder why it mattered so much to me that I cultivate my surroundings. Surely, I would have saved money and labor had I never waged war against the hideous shade of eggshell with which I was provided. Yet the immutable characteristic inside me that I have become so familiar with over the years railed against it. I was reminded how off-putting it is for me to live in spaces created for the sole purpose of providing shelter — spaces that were created to be used for a purpose rather than enjoyed humanistically.

My walls are now a lovely forest green, but they represent more than just my own aesthetic predispositions. Living in a space that appeals to me cuts a stark contrast in my mind between my own visual ideals and the aesthetics of the rest of campus, which are predominantly designed on that aforementioned basis of function rather than form; they are utilitarian in the extreme. I know that I would be more centered and happier on a daily basis if the interiors of campus buildings were intentionally designed to be pleasurable to look at, rather than just act as basic liveable structures.

I visited junior Theo Delmonaco’s bedroom in La Maison Français, which features a baseball cap set upon an armoire proudly announcing “I PEE IN POOLS.” While perhaps laughable for its sensationalism, this decor proves a great point about how a space requires aesthetic personality in order to provide comfort.

“A lot of things in my room are very true to my character,” Delmonaco said. “When you come home after a long day of classes, you want to be comfortable. Everyone’s not going to have the same idea of beauty.”

Delmonaco touches on another interesting concept here: the impossibility of objective beauty. Perhaps there is someone out there who would scorn his pee hat, but ultimately what matters in personal spaces is that whoever lives there is comfortable; and that matters a great deal. The absence of objective beauty is in this case a misfortune.

Aesthetics that promote function over form and lack aesthetic personality (i.e., empty walls, minimalist furniture or a color palette of hyper-neutrals) impede human function. There is not enough for our minds to consume, which often results in disinterest rather than the creation of an idealized focus. As a college, divesting from brutalist, utilitarian interiors is a matter of stating that the administration is invested in the happiness of students over the idea of efficiency.