got space? Are you having Emotional Interface with it? Whaaaaaat!!??

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It’s ok to admit it.  Everybody wants it.  In fact, in most places it is expected.  Emotional Interface, that is.

What is Emotional Interface you ask?  If you are a web-designer you are well familiar with the name and the concept.  What works in the virtual world should work in the real world too, no?  Architects and interior designers could learn a thing or three from our virtual design world cousins.  In 2010, Aarron Walter, Director of User Experience at Mail Chimp gave a presentation called “Learning to Love Humans”.  In his presentation, he says:

“Humans, though cute and cuddly, are not without their flaws, which makes designing for them a challenge. By understanding how the wet, mushy processor works in these hairy little devils, you can design interfaces and web experiences that will have them hopelessly devoted to your brand.”

Our ancient ancestors were very good at Emotional Interface.  For them, it was as simple as sitting around a fire pit, sharing stories, dancing, meditating and posting the days events on the cave wall.  So, if you have linked, shared or participated in a space then you may have achieved Emotional Interface. Human needs dictate that we require functional, reliable, usable and pleasurable spaces.  You know when one of these elements is missing in a space:  Where is the door?  Is this the right door?  Can I open the door?  Wow, the door opened for me!!  A positive Emotional Interface experience = pleasure.

Cave Painting Cartoon

Technology plays a huge roll in making our living spaces more pleasurable. From old tech like refrigerators and vacuums to new tech like the AI thermostat “nest”.  They all have a function that can make life a little easier for us. Although both creepy and awesome, the “nest” thermostat learns your room temperature desired patterns so that one day you just leave it alone and it will just know what temperature you want your room to be.  It is kind of like raising a child… but then there is always the teenage years… “Just what do you think you’re doing, Dave?  Dave, I really think I’m entitled to an answer to that question.” … or for the younger crowd … “The cake is a lie”.

nest-learning-thermostat-3

The spaces that you create for yourself tell the world of your values… you are visually communicating your brand as it were.  What are you telling the world about yourself?  Our cultural and social upbringing influences how we feel about the spaces we inhabit and our expectations of what they should give us. Restaurants are a good example of expectation of an emotional interface. Depending on the quality of the food and prices on the menu, we expect a restaurant to deliver an equal or better offering in service and the physical environment.  Food, service and decor are the Holy Trinity of a successful restaurant… just ask effing Gordon Ramsay!! … aaaaaand we expect it to work out or we give an unfavourable review and the relationship ends.  It is harsh, but like Mr. Walter says, designing for us hairy little devils is a challenge.

“Interior spaces are often the primary interface between users and the built environment and can have a marked influence on our sense of belonging, comfort, emotion and productivity.” Arqua Design

circular-living-room-design-with-fireplaces

Every element of design in our environment plays an emotional toll on our soul. The shape, size, colour and texture create a composition of balance, contrast, pattern, proportion and more … that’s a lot of combinations and permutations that could go horribly wrong!!  Be kind to the design!!  Know that everything evolves, the designers are taking note of what works and doesn’t and there is always another toy arriving to distract us from those pesky negative emotions and give us one more pleasurable experience.

“The only intuitive interface is the nipple. After that it’s all learned.” – Bruce Ediger

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Whoa Dude…. What Happened to My Light Bulb!? 2014 The Year of the Light Bulb

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As of January 1, 2014 the U.S. and Canada has ceased the manufacture and importation of incandescent light bulbs. Worried yet? If you are concerned about the upcoming bulb shortages you’d best stock up like it’s a zombie apocalypse because they’ll be going fast and furious. Panic not, the EU and Australia went through with this same ban back in 2009… so it can be done without total mayhem.

Dining room glass feature
Where would we be without the invention of the incandescent light bulb? Scholars argue that there were more than 22 scientist with patents throughout the world over from 1809 until 1879 when Thomas Edison and his wealthy backers (one being J.P. Morgan who owned General Electric and The Titanic) purchased the patent from two Canadian scientists that he improved upon for his now commercially successfully light bulb design. The incandescent light bulb has been evolving ever since but now will see it’s end of days and be dismissed to a shelf in a museum and memories past.
Commercial properties have been refitting their ceilings with fluorescent light fixtures as a cost saving measure since the late 1990’s. The LED bulbs at the time of this great switch-up were priced far out of economical sense for building owners. The new LED (light emitting diode) technology has overtaken the CFL (compact fluorescent light) bulb in new commercial building lighting design. Currently the LED light is only slightly more energy efficient than the CFL for the same amount of light but the LED light also can be dimmed and tinted other colours, as well, the next generation of technologies promises to better the efficiency. Health issues such as seizures and the special disposal of CFL bulbs, since they contain toxic mercury, will see the end eventually of the CFL bulb too. The research into commercial lighting has lit the way for a future of LED lighting in our homes at a reasonable price.

Mud room and Powder room light fixture
Now I’m sure you are smart and understand our governments’ legislation of light bulbs is motivated by reducing energy consumption… we’ll just stick with that premise (see “Research” link at the end for more info if you suspect otherwise). Big retailers such as IKEA, Home Depot and Walmart are on top of the low priced LED bulbs sales… so we should not have to be too worried about finding an affordable bulb for our existing light fixtures. IKEA has moved to only selling light fixtures that use LED technology, so that’s a huge statement of where they think the future of lighting is heading.
A good cost saving strategy is to stock up on incandescent bulbs to avoid the cost of new technologies… then hold on until the competition heats up for the newest and cheapest LED bulbs to come out of the giant retailers … the fight is on for your light bulb dollars. Don’t be tempted by the reduced cost of CFL bulbs either. The environmental impact of even the smallest amounts of mercury that is used in these bulbs is astronomical when the shear number of bulbs that are used in North America are added up. Those bulbs will all die one day and must go somewhere. As with most waste in our countries, not all of it that should be handled with special care make it to the proper facilities and end up in regular waste dumps where the toxins will eventually leak into our precious ground water.

Living room light fixture and custom drapery
If money is tight coming out of your pocket… stretch it a little and stock up on the inexpensive incandescent bulbs to hold you over… invest a little for a few LED bulbs for high use spaces like kitchens… or that lamp you never shut off for “security” reasons… mom. Spend some to save some is the name of the game here. The trendy “Industrial Style” is glorifying the incandescent light bulb in one last hurr-ahh… before they are dismissed from the store shelves as the cause of over consumption of electricity… what’s next? Yes, your oven could be next… or perhaps your refrigerator?? Remember… when in doubt, turn it out … or just light a candle instead!!

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Walmart:
http://inhabitat.com/walmart-launches-line-of-10-led-bulbs/

Canada ban 2014 – Government unprepared for mercury waste from increased use of CFLs:
http://digitaljournal.com/article/341813
http://www.ctvnews.ca/sci-tech/in-line-with-u-s-ottawa-to-allow-sales-of-less-efficient-light-bulbs-1.1484749
http://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/incandescent-light-bulb-ban-starts-jan-1-2014-1.2462888
Canada govt FAQ for light bulbs
http://www.nrcan.gc.ca/energy/regulations-codes-standards/7281
Ikea news:
http://www.businessweek.com/news/2012-10-01/ikea-plans-to-sell-only-led-lights-worldwide-to-cut-emissions
http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-10-01/ikea-plans-to-sell-only-led-lights-worldwide-to-cut-emissions.html
http://jamesbedell.com/blog/2013/8/22/ikea-is-going-all-led-heres-what-that-means-for-the-lighting-industry
Research:
http://freedomlightbulb.blogspot.ca/