For Milan Design Week 2019, Muuto collaborated with Google, Reddymade Architecture and Johns Hopkins University on an installation at Spazio Maiocchi, exploring the field of neuroaesthetics and how aesthetic experiences have the potential to impact our biology and well-being.
Here, we explore the experience of A Space for Being and hear thoughts and ideas of the collaborational partners on the exhibition.
"Everyone knows the feeling of entering a room that feels right," says Muuto's Design Director Christian Grosen, sitting on the courtyard of Spazio Maiocchi in the heart of Milan. "With A Space for Being, the idea was to uncover what makes us gravitate towards a given environment and emphasize the role that aesthetics, and design in particular, can play in our everyday life. It was very much an exploration of design's impact on our biology and how design has the potential to impact our well-being," he notes.
The design for A Space for Being was co-created by Google’s Vice President for Hardware Design, UX, and Research, Ivy Ross, in collaboration with Muuto’s Design Director, Christian Grosen; Reddymade Architecture and Design Studio Founder and Principal, Suchi Reddy; and Executive Director of the International Arts + Mind Lab at Johns Hopkins University, Susan Magsamen.
When entering the space, guests put on a wristband, specially made by Google, that measures various physical and physiological responses, including one's heart rate, breathing rate, skin temperature and more. Following that, guests walk through three different rooms, each unique in their furnishings, artwork, colors, textures, lighting, sounds, and scents: "To us, it was an interesting challenge to create three rooms that were entirely different in their expressions with our designs and still have each single environment feel like Muuto. It really tested the versatility in our collection and went to show that there's a Muuto design for any interior," Grosen adds.
Walking through the exhibition, the wristband measures the responses of each guests to create a customized, individual report, suggesting which space each guest felt “most comfortable” or “at ease” in based on his or her real-time physiological responses.
Upon stepping into the first room, entitled "Essential", guests enter an inviting and sympathetic atmosphere. A dining setting with the Linear Wood Table and Fiber Armchair in a burnt orange front upholstery greets them. In the room, a warm scent with light notes of citrus and flora tinkers with the senses while Google's Home Max and Home Hub play a sound landscape with subtle undertones and stripped-back instrumentals.
Exploring the room further, guests pass a living room setting with the soft curves of the Rest Sofa, upholstered in the Divina textile by Kvadrat in a soft blue hue, paired with the Around Coffee Table in a warm tones of Oak and Dusty Green that sit on the invitingly tactile surface of the Pebble Rug.
Exiting the Essential room, guests enter a small transition space, serving the purpose of resetting the senses before entering the second room.
The second room, named "Vital", seeks to create a vibrant and playful atmosphere. On the walls, a colored gradient unfolds with integrated LED lights and an artful installation of The Dots Coat Hooks. In the space, the contemporary shapes of the Oslo Sofa Series is presented in a vibrantly blue upholstery alongside orange Five Poufs and Halves Side Tables.
In the dining setting of the Vital room, a monochrome version of the Base Table in Grey is placed with the new Oslo Side Chair in colorful upholsteries of Still and Twill Weave by Kvadrat, placed under the Under The Bell Pendant Lamp. Walking through the space, a vibrant yet balanced soundscape with percussive rhythms is played alongside a scent of citrus and floral spices, floating gently in the air.
Walking through the next transition space, guests enter the third and final room, dubbed "Transformative", defined through its honest and elegant sentiment Here, marbled paper materials adorn the walls along with a subtle laminate flooring. The space features the Outline Sofa in its 3½-Seater version, upholstered in the Stone Refine Leather for a refined expression, placed with the Workshop Coffee Table and Fiber Lounge Chair in a dark toned Vidar upholstery.
In the far end of the room is its dining setting with Black version of the Workshop Chair around a 70/70 Table and the Ambit Rail Lamp in its new color Taupe on top. Adding a sculptural element to the space is a wall installation of Framed Mirrors. For its scent, the Transformative room featured fresh, wood-like scents while a soundscape of string instruments and piano played.
Exiting the last of the three rooms, guests step into the offboarding area. Here, a member of the exhibit staff will take off the wristband and place it above a screen. Here, guests are shown their read from each of the three rooms as well as which room they were most at ease in, visualized through artful circles in watercolor. The more calm and fine the circle is, the more at ease were the given person was in the given room. The visualization will also show where in the room the guest experienced a potential moment of excitement, being where their senses might have been activated.
Once the customized report has been shown, guests received a print-out of the watercolor from the room that they were most at ease in along with information on the elements within the given room.
Touching on what makes A Space for Being relevant for Muuto's design philosophy, Christian Grosen says: "At Muuto, we’ve always worked from a strong belief that the elements around us—be it furniture, sounds, light, colors or forms—have an impact on how we feel but we’ve never been able to visualize it. A Space for Being allowed us to express what we are not able to communicate in words; how environments can influence our biology, emphasizing the importance of thoughtful design in our everyday life, whether at home, at work or in public spaces."
Adding to that, he ends: "The ideas of A Space for Being encourages us to be thoughtful about the elements that we surround ourselves with, exploring what resonates best with our personal sensibilities and nudging us to become more conscious about how the things around us can influence how we feel. We should be more thoughtful about how the use shapes, colors, textures and materials within design to enhance our wellbeing on a daily basis."