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The design of human environments

On November 8, 2017
On November 8, 2017

The design of interior spaces isn’t just about what’s in a space, but the experience of a space and how it makes a person feel. While each space or room in a house will be different, none work in isolation from each other. “Within spatial design we like to think of a house as a totality; a series of spaces linked together by walls, halls and stairways. How each space connects and works with the other is important,” Frobisher’s Ann Marie Appleton says.

Thinking of a house in this way encourages the development of a spatial design, a concept that links the language of the architecture with the interior and landscape designs. It’s in this realm between three areas of design where spatial design has a place.

“Clients are increasingly looking for designers who can cross a range of disciplines and that’s how the evolution of this new design discipline has arisen.”


When looking at a spatial design, it is always a ‘whole picture’ approach, Ann Marie says. “A good spatial design creates the intangible feeling when you walk into a house and it flows seamlessly and feels comfortable.”

As is often the case, particularly when renovating rather than building a new home, people start with one area of the house and focus on those rooms, which in itself isn’t conducive to a good spatial design. “Even if a client is only wanting to renovate one room, we still think spatially as invariably once that space is finished, clients then want to move onto the next area and you can’t achieve the best results designing different areas in isolation.”

For a spatial designer, taking a clear and detailed brief from the outset is critical. In order to design the best environments for clients, they’ll want to understand how each room is used, what it is used for and who uses it. “It’s also about understanding how the clients interact in each room, for example, how a family might watch a movie; is it lying down on a couch or sitting on separate chairs. Having clients answer these things honestly will create the best outcome.”

A good spatial designer will consider the materiality and construction of the home, and incorporate this within the concept. “Most of our clients have also collected various artefacts and pieces of furniture over the years and these need to be incorporated into the design too. I love mixing old with new, layering textures and mixing patterns and shapes so the design is appealing to the eye,” Ann Marie says.

Frobisher was founded in Christchurch more than two decades’ ago and its focus remains on creating stylish, elegant spaces. Now working across New Zealand, the Frobisher team works directly with architects and clients on projects of all scopes from residential through to commercial.

Spatial design, while a relatively new concept, is one that’s gaining momentum as designers look to work more seamlessly between the language of architecture and interior concepts.

Visit Frobisher on Milehigh here to peruse some of their latest interiors.