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The ongoing evolution of technology's interaction with interior design

Within the dynamic realm of interior design, a profound transformation is underway, propelled by the widespread force of technology. The proliferation of smart homes and the tangible effects brought about by the Internet of Things (IoT) have started a revolution that has been altering how we conceptualize and experience our living spaces resulting in the trespassing of technology into our living rooms. How is that possible?

Some people may feel nostalgic for a time when there was only a single screen in the living room. The screen served as the centerpiece, capturing everyone's attention, with all the furniture oriented towards it. However, imagine a scenario where the screen integrates with the couches, transforming them into smart couches. Alternatively, envision the wall becoming a seamless screen, spanning across it. What if the table itself could be a smart table, adapting to the preferences of the inhabitants? It could transform into a chessboard, a digital map, or even a checklist.

Over the course of the past decade, smart homes have gained remarkable traction, steering in a definitive shift that redefines our interaction with domestic environments. These “educated” dwellings exemplify an intricate network of interconnected devices, systems, and appliances, with the ability to be remotely controlled vocally or via smartphones. From illuminative dynamics to climatic regulation, and from security fortification to immersive entertainment, smart homes seamlessly weave convenience and personalization into the very fabric of our existence. Thus, we could argue that technology is not bounded by the frames of a screen but has been leaking more and more into many aspects of our lives, including our most precious and private spaces: our homes.

“Technology today can indeed manage the entire house from electricity, to the water heater, shutters, security, music, and lighting, but it can be expensive, exclusive and sometimes complicated to implement. Aside from my clients,” said Lana Makari, a Ukrainian-Lebanese architect and interior designer, “my husband, for instance, couldn’t visualize the apartment we wanted to buy until I showed him how it would be designed to our liking through numerous 3D interior visualizations that were rendered rapidly through advanced software simulations. Moreover, designers are able to manipulate many more variables nowadays with less clicks on the keyboard, so technology has made things much easier not only in the consumption process but also in the production approach.”

Makari further noted that the emergence of novel applications has made interior design much more accessible to people with no previous experience in this field, making producers out of amateurs. However, it has also resulted in some chaos, as professional practice has merged with recreational testing.

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The evolution of computer generated simulations of interior spaces from left to right - Image: No attribution required

Concerning smart home technology, integrating it into interior design brings forth numerous benefits. It resourcefully augments efficiency and cultivates a sustainable attitude. Through IoT-enabled apparatus, energy consumption is attentively monitored, optimizing heating and cooling systems, and sensibly managing lighting configurations. This thoughtful arrangement leads to a deep reduction in energy expenditure and the inviting prospect of diminished utility expenses. Additionally, the realm of smart appliances and water management systems contributes attentively to the noble cause of resource conservation, making the pursuit of an ecologically conscious lifestyle increasingly attainable.

“IoT is making its way into our homes," said Frida Cóbar, an architect based in El Salvador. "As a designer, I believe that the use of IoT is allowing us the opportunity to modify designs according to personalized needs. With technology as a companion, we can create spaces that are truly unique to each user. For example, imagine waking up to the aroma of freshly brewed coffee as the curtains gracefully rise at a specific time. We can now craft experiences that cater to our sensory experiences: smells, light, temperature—elements that were previously not completely under our control—thus establishing a deeper level of connection between the user and the space. So the goal of our design has shifted from providing a basic need: a protective shelter, to offering a personalized experience for each user.”

Technology's brilliant palette has granted designers unparalleled possibilities to imbue interior spaces with bespoke adaptability and artistic personalization. The harmonious amalgamation of smart home systems engenders a mix of tailored lighting arrangements, variable temperature zones, and even automated window treatments, birthing an ambiance that transcends the mundane confines of conventional design. The seamless integration of IoT triggers a sum of synchronized devices, giving occupants a system of personalized aesthetics.

Smart home technology stands as an unrivaled frontline, giving designers innovative tools to forge extraordinary functional spaces. Interactive mirrors, their surfaces endowed with touch-screen capabilities, transform into portals that display personalized information, while wise furnishings flexibly adapt to disparate user proclivities and spatial configurations, all giving off even mundane tasks with an aura of sophisticated simplicity.

As technology continues its relentless march, interior design becomes an expansive canvas of infinite possibilities. Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) have already begun their transformative propositions, catalyzing the fundamental reimagining of the design process. Users are granted the privilege of imagining and experiencing spaces before their physical manifestation, as mentioned by architect Makari. Furthermore, material advancements, exemplified by the remarkable duality of smart glass capable of seamlessly transitioning from transparent to opaque (like Shigeru Ban's glass toilet design in Yoyogi Fukamachi Mini Park in Tokyo), unveil the allure of adaptive and dynamic environments, where design excels in enhancing human experience.

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Shigeru Ban's glass toilet design in Yoyogi Fukamachi Mini Park in Tokyo reveals the advancement of materials, exemplified by the remarkable duality of smart glass capable of seamlessly transitioning from transparent to opaque - Image: No attribution required

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Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) have already begun their transformative propositions, catalyzing the fundamental reimagining of the design process - Image: No attribution required

Technology is slowly but surely crawling into our spaces: kitchens, living rooms and bedrooms. The smart phone seems to be leaping out of the screen and becoming a part of our physical world. If it isn't apparent now, the phenomenon will become apparent in the near future. The ongoing evolution of technology's interaction with interior design has bestowed upon us an era of unparalleled possibilities. As we venture further into the future, the relentless advance of technology promises to expand the boundaries of creativity, enabling interior designers to explore new frontiers of innovation and redefine the essence of human habitation. How can we be better producers and more importantly healthier consumers?


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