Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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The imperfect reality - Triggering the sensory system

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posted on 2022-09-27, 09:13 authored by McKeown, Sarah

The sensory relationship that humans have with our interior spaces dramatically shifted as a consequence of COVID-19 and its related safety restrictions. With the introduction of worldwide, and subsequent dramatic increase in amount of time spent indoors, demand for positive and comforting interior spaces has grown. This thesis investigates how manipulation of light, colour and contrast can create a positive atmosphere – orchestrating spaces to evoke positive emotions to influence inhabitants’ rituals and wellness. Colour and light installation artists and theorists such as Olafur Eliasson, Yayoi Kusama, Isle Crawford and their works are explored, in doing so, the writer has sought to better understand the relationship that colour, light, and contrast have when inserted into interior spaces, particularly in COVID-19 living conditions.

The purpose of this research is to inform how to better create sense of atmosphere within interior spaces, to provoke positive emotion. The purpose is apt, given widespread and acute feelings amongst society that 2020-2021 has been a period of ‘languishing’; ‘failing to make progress of be successful and indicating tender sentimental melancholy’. A critical analysis of these designers’ theories and precedents – has proffered insights which the writer has explored through a series of experimentative art and performance exhibitions, each encouraging dynamic and interactive feedback. The feedback offers insight as to how to appropriately progress in further experimentations based on the participants’ emotion and connection to the installations. The conclusion made in this research aims to habituate design thinking to accommodate personal perception and preference in temporary and/or permanent interior occupations.


Copyright Date


Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Rights License

Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline

Interior Architecture

Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Master of Interior Architecture

ANZSRC Type Of Activity code

4 Experimental research

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

Wellington School of Architecture


Perkins, Natasha