In many digital containers, every button, piece of copy, and intentional negative or white space lends itself to a specific goal. It has a job-to-be-done, so to speak. Yes, we may design UX for human values and engagement, but the elephant lurking around the corner - perhaps even abstracted under the banner of a glorious mission statement - is “business impact”. This is the not-so-secret secret that every for-profit digital architect senses, whether subconsciously or overtly.

I’ve found the reprieve of designing physical space to be a welcomed antidote. What if the job-to-be-done for a container is highly abstract? How can one design a space for connection, solitude, beauty, contemplation, belonging or creativity? Does the placement of a stack of books or half-used candle have a quantifiable impact to the bottom line? Traversing beyond the mind, these jobs find footing in the realm of heart and soul. The success of a physical space is not a/b testable, it’s intuited in the subconscious. It is beyond words. It is felt at the level of energy.

I suspect physical spaces with these kinds of abstract ideals are akin to how the natural world works. The emphasis being on the ecosystem and whole, as opposed to the individuating ROI of one specific component. Designing for the whole is more effortless. More tender. Less quantifiable justifications are needed. It’s not about cost-benefitting the half-used candle. One surrenders to the enveloping vibe, and the details flow from there. The mind is a useful sidekick, measuring sq. ft, extrapolating budgets, analyzing placement and curvature - but ultimately, the heart leads. Its intention, directed towards a holistic system, as opposed to justifying the being-ness of its parts.

Perhaps we ought to suspend our defense of our mind and really try something different. Let go and stop the struggle to figure everything out. Lay down the need to comprehend from your limited perspective, and allow true understanding to reveal itself.
Open your heart, again and again.
Take all of the mental perspective and put it into the inner flow and use it as fuel to create a more permanent place of openness within yourself. By doing this we expand our awareness back into higher Consciousness. The mind and ego get absorbed back into their source, where there is no separation. This is how liberation takes place.

What if we designed our lives from the seat of the heart, as opposed to the calculative whims of the mind? What if we focused on our macro “why”, drawn from our achiest depths, and let the universe take care of the details? What if?

Enjoy the before & after pictures below of The Commons below 😄

Entrance Mural

Mural by Mariel Rosic “Soupy, bright, topological, it challenges perspective as you walk through it, and most importantly it marks a clear energetic departure from the grey city block above.”

Community Living Room / Solarpunk Library

Warm lighting and earth tones (dark green, wood, midnight blue) emulate the outdoors, in the coziness of an underground space. Books are sprinkled everywhere to imbue the space with books spirits. I call it “lush academia”
No space for contemplation is complete without a large contingent of book spirits

Cafe area

Mismatched mid-century modern chairs with french cafe bistro tables mix the soft graze of antiquity with modern accents.

Cozy Moroccan Lounge

Inspiration from astrology tarot cards and Moroccan tea lounges. Low cozy seating, rainbow Moroccan globes, throw pillows emulating earth tones, & soundproof curtains envelop the space enabling top secret conversations about the cosmos.

Wabi-Sabi Lounge

A place for introverts to “be alone, amongst others”
In traditional Japanese aesthetics, wabi-sabi is a world view centered on the acceptance of transience and imperfection. The aesthetic is sometimes described as one of appreciating beauty that is "imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete" in nature. It
Natural wood tones and nods to Japanese Zen garden aesthetics

The “Hogwarts” Study

As a teenager who grew up in the world of Harry Potter, I wanted to bring the feeling of Oxford/Cambridge-style libraries to SF. Hogwarts tapestries frame the space. The Chess pieces are from the Harry Potter chess set. There’s a hedwig lamp, Platform 9 3/4 snow globe, and snitch - if you can find it :)
The space lies underground with skylights giving way to the sidewalk ahead. One gets the sense that they are free to wonder and study in a hidden world.
Green lamps inspired from the green banker lamps that sit on every table at the Boston Public Library.
The paintings chosen: The School of Athens by Raphael (discussion on the nature of reality), Wanderer above the Sea of Fog by Caspar David Friedrich (self-contemplation), and The Storm of the Sea by Rembrandt (exploration into the unknown). These all represent the journey of inquiry, discussion, and action.

Modular Philosophy Salon x Concert hall x Yoga/Meditation Studio

Floor pillows and carpet reflect the playful color palette of the mural. We hope to imbue this room with a sense of playfulness, flexibility, and creativity.
Mural by dipalua. From left to right: I. the cosmos whispers new ways of being to us through dreams & imagination II. we allow these whispers to bloom into willpower III. our dreams calcify into material & create new portals. This is what we hope The Commons can nurture
Everything else like the couch and coffee table, yoga mats, and meditation cushions are white / tan to draw attention to the mural. They are round in shape in order to also be an extension of fluidity and curves derived from the mural.

And of course, a space wouldn’t be complete without its wonderful humans:

If you’re interested in renting out The Commons for your event you can let us know here.