We are physical beings. We walk inside and outside of a building, composing a personal narrative about our relationship with the building, its interior design and its decoration. This relation can be a natural result of the architecture of a building and how its occupants use it, or it can be a creation made by an interior design trying to accomplish certain emotions, trying to tell a specific story by making the users of a place walk in certain directions and pay attention to specific items.
The strategy that focus in telling a story using design is called storytelling. Storytelling is the art to tell a good story. This strategy can be used in home design, to tell the story of the family that lives in there; in the interior design of stores, to attract clients focusing on the experience of being in the store, instead of focusing in the products; and even in the design of objects, like those we see in the ceramics based on the aesthetics of Japanese Wabi Sabi, that try to tell the story of its production process and the effect of the time in its surface. The basic components of any storytelling are context, plot and structure. All these three components are fused together in the individual and subjective experience of the place.
Context is the background that an interior designer will use as the foundation to build the other three components. In the case of an interior design, background is what is already built, something that the designer necessarily must work with, even if it’s only to take part of it of the final design. Usually this is what is already there, in the real space, that we are working. However, furniture and other objects that are not already in the building, but are something that a client desires to have, can also be considered part of the background of a project.
Plot is the sequence of events that the users of a place will experience. This defines the paths that these users can follow, what are the spatial focus points of a design and what will be experienced in these points. By defining the plot, you are also defining what are the most important parts of a place, in relation with the idea of telling a story, what are the routes that will be used to access these focal points and what are the most important visuals to see these points from distance.
Having defined what are the focal points and the paths, we also must define what are the main story that that we want to communicate. The main story of a house can be the story of its inhabitants or maybe the hobbies that someone in the family likes. The main story of a public space can be the story of the city, the country or of some hero/public figure. And the main story of a store can be some brand that is important to the store, a new collection of products or objects that are related to popular culture.
Is based on the main story that we can decide what object will be placed on the areas that we defined as focal points. These objects are partially responsible for the experience of storytelling. Is these things, in conjunction with the walls and floor, that will actually communicate with the users of a certain space what is the story about.
Knowing the background of a building and having defined the plot of the story, the next step is to define the structure that we’ll use to tell the story that we want to tell. The structure of interior design storytelling is how you organize this story, facilitating the user to know what you want to tell them and giving cues to where they should be focusing to know more about the story.
However, while a consistent story is a good thing, too much uniformity can cause boredom. To avoid it, the interior designer can use rhythm, contrast and suspense to create a more interesting way to communicate. Directing the experience of the story to a more dynamic and artistic way
This is the point where we start to think on design solutions to avoid boredom and to reinforce the paths and focal points decided by the plot. We can use fixture design to create a contrast between the focal points and the rest od the space, create a rhythm that differentiates the areas that are just for passage from the ones that will be used to tell the story, etc. The design solutions are infinite and can only by thought by an interior designer together with its clients.