Adjust Your Umwelt, Please.
Simple adjustments within our home can renovate us, in unexpected ways. But, are we seeing our home for what it is? Can we see our home for what it is? What vibes or ambience is our home sending? And what is umwelt?
The biological concept of Umwelt “came from observations of different animals in the same ecosystem”. Some animals sense the environment best through temperature, odor, electrical fields, echolocated waves. The small [portion] of the world that an animal is able to detect, is its umwelt.
"Each organism presumably assumes its umwelt to be the entire objective reality "out there." Our human brains “detect a shockingly small fraction of the surrounding reality. Our sensorium is enough to get by in our ecosystem, but is does not approximate the larger picture".(1)
umwelt reminds us:
...that our knowledge is short-sighted,
...that there are possibilities we haven’t even imagined.
...to “Consider the… declarations of fact
that you hear every day
— to just imagine if all of these [stories]
could be infused with
the proper...humility that comes from
appreciating the amount unseen.” (1)
What are we missing with our present sense of home? ”We tend to just accept the reality of the world with which we're presented." We accept our umwelt and stop there….(1)
When we look at the architectural styles of homes in our region, we may assume that what we see has become the only way to build a house because it is the best way to build a house.
So we continue to designing homes the same way, with minor changes to layouts and materials. And then when this becomes dated, we renovate within the same old umwelt, under new finishes. But the perspectives we may have adopted - which may be mistaken - limit us from the umwelt possibilities we have not yet imagined.
We also tend to occupy spaces in our home, the same way, with built-ins like kitchens. In "old-world" regions, we see that people take their kitchens with them when they move!
Would life as we know it end if kitchen cabinets were freed from their fixed positions against kitchen walls, and were lifted from their grungy bases stuck to the floor?
Freestanding cabinets like those found at Ikea can be reshuffled or refurbished to freshen a kitchen, rather than being torn off and tossed as splintered waste. When the shuffling gets old, these freestanding cabinets migrate into the Maker's Workshop in the garage! Having a sense of creative flexibility in a kitchen - which should be a creative space - has an impact.
Is the vast empty space in a master bedroom necessary for the purpose of restoration?
The effects of chronic poor sleep are now well known. Studies are showing people sleep better in cozy, small places. New trends are shifting home-owner's perspectives towards the outdated masterbed-spread. People are moving to small, sleep-designated rooms and are remaking their master into yoga-gyms or relaxing day-lounges! Reducing how much space our senses are responsible for, while our body sleeps, lends to deeper rest.
People are shaking up a home's umwelt by trading spaces. The covered patio becomes a dining room. A guest bedroom becomes the family library. A mudroom looks like a wine cellar, but closed cupboard doors conceal coats and shoes. Even if these experiments are not successful, adjusting your umwelts - previously unseen by you - can create a cascade of change.
How Unseen Umwelts of Home can Heal...
By looking at design paradigms through a different umwelt, quality of life becomes more well-rounded. By giving the floor to previously suppressed senses, we begin rethink the ways we've been doing things and turn to smarter solutions.
Revaluating the way interiors are designed leads to healthier outcomes. Creative uses of the spaces already in our home become empowering.
We might think that Umwelt of Home is a purely visual experience. Umwelt is also imagination, sound, smell, signs of life, electrical fields. The next blog will show more ways to tap into umwelt to boost your interior life.
©️Låna Brown 2017
Reference: (1) https://www.edge.org/response-detail/11498