The Sense of Beauty and Wellbeing

There is a correlation between beauty, pleasure, and wellbeing.

Novelist Fyodor Dostoyevsky once said, “beauty will save the world,” and in his artistic creativity he never placed beauty apart from the good and the true – believing the three should be in unity.

To preserve the beauty around us, and to create more beauty in the world, is a strong desire for humankind. Beauty makes us feel good.

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But how does beauty contribute to our wellbeing?

In our daily lives, we’re constantly searching for the beauty around us.

This beauty can be found in our connection with other people, but it’s also largely found through our five senses; when seeing, feeling, hearing, tasting or smelling something that gives us pleasure.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but if we’re in an environment we believe is beautiful, such as a lush garden or park, it will affect how we feel.

When we sense beauty, it has a positive impact on our state of wellbeing.

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The sense of beauty in nature

When we look closely at nature, we are often fascinated by the total harmony it creates itself. The colours, forms, and textures. It attracts us; it touches us with its purity and beauty, and it makes us feel good.

I believe artists and creatives, such as poets, writers, composers, artisans and designers, are often inspired by nature because it’s the most organic, natural form of beauty in our world.

In nature, beauty lies within its natural ability to flourish. To thrive. To be healthy.

There is no beauty in deforestation or pollution. Seeing this doesn’t make us feel good. In fact, it can have negative effects on our state of wellbeing, and our health.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) defines health as ‘a state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity’ (WHO, 1948).

That means health and wellbeing refer to positive rather than neutral states, framing health as a positive aspiration. Just like beauty. We can allow ourselves to value, engage with, and desire beauty – simply because it is beautiful. We also value and desire good health.

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How to bring more beauty into our lives through design

Author of The Sense of Beauty, George Santayana, describes the sense of beauty as the realization of “The harmony between our nature and our experience.

According to Santayana, beauty is linked to pleasure, and is fundamental to human purpose and experience. It is when the experience and emotion of pleasure intertwine with the qualities of the object that beauty arises.

When we experience pleasure, it makes us feel good. If we are in an environment that gives us pleasure by respecting all our senses, our wellbeing will improve, and we will feel happier as a result.

If we create environments with a focus on the impact they have on the wellbeing and health of the people who use them, we can create truly beautiful, healthy spaces where people can thrive.  This can be achieved through creating aesthetic spaces that are beautiful in appearance, but also in functionality and how they make us feel.

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Experience over aesthetics

When we talk about aesthetics, we mainly think about how it looks, but not so much about the experience we have with it. By this I mean the emotion it evokes within us, or the fascination it gives us.

The word ‘aesthetics’ is derived from Greek, meaning ‘sense of perception’. This, within interior design, reminds us of the importance of connection and understanding the intended inhabitant, the space, environment, culture, and other parameters when designing for the wellbeing of the guest in mind.

Picasso, is his artwork seen as Beautiful, are they a symbol of divine perfection? Or is it up to everyone’s perception of it.