The ‘e’ and ‘i’ in Design

The possibility of…emphasizing the ‘e’ and ‘i’ in design.

There is an emotional element to design—where one’s thinking and feelings align.


When first outlining the ideas that would become the main components of the Spatialosophy™ design approach, I knew that emotional intelligence, which draws on the work of Daniel Goleman, an American psychologist who helped popularize the termwould be essential. 

Emotional intelligence can be defined as the ability to use emotional information to guide thinking and behavior.

According to Goleman, there are five key elements to it: self-awareness; self-regulation; motivation; empathy; and, social skills.  What does all of this have to do with spatial thinking and design thinking?  A great deal, actually.

Whether looking through the lens of an educator or a designer, I see every space as a canvas—an emotional, functional canvas where human interactions provide the brushstrokes of color.  There must be an intentional design to learning spaces.  Optimal environments cultivate social-emotional competencies; promote equity & inclusion; and, spark intellectual engagement.  These are learning communities where students and educators thrive.

We are all co-designers of the spaces we inhabit.  That said, we (co-designers) must be mindful of the emotional elements we bring to those spaces.  The emotional information that guides our thinking and behavior influences what we design.  —db

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