Throughout history, humans have decorated their homes in order to add aesthetic value, among other purposes. Ranging from cave paintings to Baroque embellishment, it is clear that aesthetics take different forms depending on the context and culture surrounding them. The aesthetic value of a product, which is mostly subjective, will inevitably drive the price of the good up. Why should people pay more for pretty, unless they are receiving an additional benefit from the product? As inherently rational creatures, we can sense that the good is worth more, though we cannot always pinpoint why.
Though it is often viewed as unnecessary, beauty in all forms has a significant psychological impact on us, controlling much more of our worldview and quality of life than many suspect. The most obvious impact of aesthetics in design is the effect on the clients who will live there. Beauty in the home creates tranquility, while homes which are unattractive to their owners can cause feelings of stress, hopelessness, or desire for change. Having beauty around us – not just in our homes, but in our offices, neighborhoods and towns – allows people to feel that they are dignified, deserving of the best, and well cared for. By increasing owner self-confidence, aesthetically pleasing housing allows them to move forward in other areas of their lives, including economically. Nancy Biberman, in her article ‘Bronx by Design: Why Beauty Matters,’ explains that by preserving the aesthetic beauty of an old hospital that she renovated as low-income housing, not only did the residents take better care of the place, but the workers were often inspired to “go the extra mile.” This allowed builders to feel pride in their work, and renters in their home.
Not only does a beautiful design impact those living or working there, it impacts the impression visitors take away of the owner. Even if only on a subconscious level, beautiful building design reflects well on the owners, while less attractive homes reflect poorly. Through the objects and arrangements we choose to include, viewers imagine that the home reflects the personality of the person or company to whom it belongs – which it often does.
Not everyone has the time, money, or skills to create a beautiful space. Designers, in constructing, renovating, and decorating, should hold themselves to a high aesthetic standard, in order to create beautiful homes and surroundings for both the current and future occupants. By handling the stress of choosing socially and personally acceptable choices for the home, we provide a service to make clients happy. A beautiful space IS worth more, because it makes the owners happier, more tranquil, and proud of their surroundings. While hard to place a value on these psychological impacts, they are clearly preferable to the opposite effects, caused by dissatisfaction with the appearance of one’s living or working space.