Theory comes from a greek word ‘theoria’ which means looking at, contemplation, speculation or viewing. A theory can be a way of perceiving reality that imposes a structure on that reality or it can also refer to a prediction that a certain outcome will be achieved by a certain action. According to a quote by William James , “Theories thus become instruments not answers to enigmas to which we can rest “. A theory forms a framework for the future consequence, it is a hypothesis that predicts the future outcome which can be affected by external/new factors with the change in time. Theories play two essential functions, an explicit theory allows for testing of its validity . Any anomalies, empirical deviations from theory based predictions, provide direction for further research (Kuhn, 1970) Also, theories facilitate teaching and learning, and provide a language for professional communication.
“Criticism is the play of the mind on the aesthetic qualities of literature, having for its object an interpretation of literary value.” -J.W.H. Atkins
Criticism is derived from the Greek root ‘krinei’ which means ‘to judge’ and the term kritikos which means ‘ a judge of literature. Criticism in this case is connected to literature, however, criticism can be applied to any discipline. Criticism in interior design is the study of space, user and user in a space. It can be an analysis or evaluation of the same using theories. It is unbiased and not subjective.
Theories play a vital role in the field of interior design. There are about 94 theories in interior design. They are used as tools to evaluate the user experience in a space or to design a space.
The world of theory is often contrasted with the real world. The distinction that the theory states must be perceived within its context. For example, restoration theory states that people can concentrate better after spending time in nature, or even looking at scenes of nature. This stands true as long as the emotional connection with human beings and nature is present. It may vary for another person who does not have emotional connection with nature. This theory factors in most of the human population who feel rejuvenated with views of nature as it stimulates their mind.
Supportive Design Theory states that supportive surroundings facilitate patients’ coping with the major stress accompanying the illness. The effects of supportive design are complementary to the healing effects of drugs and other medical technology, and foster the process of technology. In this theory, supportive design refers to a space where the user has a sense of control with respect to physical,social surroundings, access to social support and access to positive distractions in physical surroundings. The design of supportive surroundings will change with advancement in technology and as time goes by , but the key aspect where the user feels like there is a sense of control in the space does not change. The user needs to have a sense of control which makes him believe that he is not in mercy of the surrounding develops hope,optimism and a sense of power. This is essential for recovery from illness. Here the design of the space can change but the underlying concept to provide the requirements for support.
Thus we can observe that theories form a base framework which is flexible with additional factors but the foundation of the theory, the effects that are stated remains fixed.
There is a misconception that design may work in theory but it is not the same in practice. Even highly practical theories, specifies the conditions that exist in the everyday world, perfect competition or frictionless movement for example. These theories, nevertheless, enhance our understanding of phenomena. The impact of other variables must, of course, be understood. Thus theories form the first step to the understanding of human interaction in a space. Either the theory holds true in the specified built environment , or it is replaced with a new theory after further understanding. It plays a key role in the field of interior design. Most of the designers inherently possess strong observation skills. However, the conclusions of their observations comes as their personal view, their contact with the world and their perception of the users in a space. The design professions, it has increasingly been recognized, must tap, make explicit, and disseminate the observations that yield predictable results. For this very purpose, is why we have theories.