We spend the majority of our lives indoors, in the interior spaces created by the structures and shells of buildings. These spaces provide the physical context for much of what we do, and give substance and life to the architecture that houses them. This introductory text is a visual study of the nature and design of these interior settings.

The purpose of this primer is to introduce to students of interior design those fundamental elements that make up our interior environments. It outlines the characteristics of each element and presents the choices we have in selecting and arranging them into design patterns. In making these choices, emphasis is placed on basic design principles and how design relationships determine the functional, structural,and aesthetic qualities of interior spaces.

This fourth edition retains the organizational scheme of the third edition, with text and illustrations updated and added to cover sustainability standards, resource usage, and recent developments in the design of interior spaces. The section on lighting reflects current design practice, lamp and fixture styles, especially the growing use of light-emitting diodes (LEDs). The coverage of furnishings responds to changes in the work environment. New residential topics include accessory dwelling units (ADUs) and touchless kitchen faucets, among others. Standards and codes incorporate current International Code Council (ICC) and Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements. Finally, the Bibliography and Glossary have been updated.

This exploration of the ways and means of developing interior spaces begins with space itself, for it is the prime material with which the interior designer must work.

Space is a prime ingredient in the designer’s palette and the quintessential element in interior design. Through the volume of space we not only move; we see forms, hear sounds, feel gentle breezes and the warmth of the sun, and smell the fragrances of flowers in bloom. Space inherits the sensual and aesthetic characteristics of the elements in its field.

Space is not a material substance like stone and wood. It is inherently formless and diffuse. Universal space has no defining borders. Once an element is placed in its field, however, a visual relationship is established. As other elements are introduced into the field, multiple relationships are established between the space and the elements, as well as among the elements themselves. Space is formed by our perception of these relationships.

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