Wednesday, September 25, 2013

the power of placement

sketch from here
Although I have to admit that I’ve never studied the term “environmental psychology in action” to define the art of “placement” within a home, the scientific concept makes tons of sense to me.

You know what I’m talking about. It’s that phenomena where we subconsciously sit in the same place in an unassigned classroom day after day—or in the same pew at church every Sunday.  

In reality, we don’t need an expert to explain that “we get psychological support from being in the same position on multiple occasions… Territories are extremely important to us psychologically. We all need a place that we control and can return to as well as personalize — it helps keep our stress levels down.”

Yet learning to pay attention, to notice, the how and why of how I function—including the placement of furniture in my house, helps foster my spiritual awareness, and discipline.

In this interesting Houzz blog post, for example, the writer describes the importance of the “dad chair” in a home:
My emotional behavior concerning this chair is really a culmination of biological as well as cultural influences.
 Let’s take a look at the latter. “There is a lot of nonverbal communication going on with these chairs,” [environmental psychologist Sally] Augustin says. “From the first ‘50s sitcoms, dads have had control of the living room recliner, and that recliner now screams Dad to all of us raised in the West.” That might help explain my impulse to drink face-contorting malt whisky and watch a sport I care very little about.
And I do have many memories of my father’s claimed territory throughout multiple houses we lived in when I was growing up. He never really had a Dad Chair, but he certainly had his spot, marked by an indention in the sofa, where he would sit every night, his knees bent and his feet tucked up under himself, with a slight lean against the left armrest so he could reach his glass of wine on the side table. He and my mother moved to a new place in San Diego about a year ago, and sure enough, the sofa arrangement is the same, and his spot was reclaimed.
Perhaps what I found most interesting about this topic, however, was the discussion on the meaning behind the placement of the furniture within a room.

According to Augustin, who’s written about something called, “primordial behavior in terms of biophilic design,” most Dad chairs are 
“positioned so that it has a view of the main doorway into a room, which is the ‘power position’ in any room.”
the Dad chair at Casa Scap
Sure enough, as you can see, this is true at our home, where the Dad chair oversees everything and is, indeed, facing the entry into one of our living areas.

So what does it mean if my habitual “Mom chair” is facing the window?!

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 Note: if this topic still intrigues you, check out this NYTimes article: "Arranging your space: this time with feeling."