Grasping the Intangible

Presented by: Juan Roldán

“Grasping the intangible” is a reflection of the first stages of Interior Design education in three stages of a propaedeutic learning process prior to Design Studio courses, using drawing and light courses as a field of experimentation. Stage 1. Drawing as Analysis This first module is based on drawing techniques coined as “imaginary triggers”(1). The purpose of this set of techniques and assignments is to assist students to move from a very expressive and abstract graphic approach into a more controlled way of representing their own ideas within a real and existing space. The core value of the course is for students to learn how to draw and control a given space, moving from abstraction towards expression. As a first immersion into the world of drawing, students are pushed to work into a first batch of assignments working with “non visual references” odors, sounds and readings. After a first listening or reading, students are encouraged to verbalize and generate a list of nouns, adjectives or verbs which are inherent to the listened or read piece: an objective list of characteristic between the piece and their future abstract drawings. It’s then, when first spatial and light structures begin to appear in their drawings. A second discussion is opened as the results begin to match and refer to the non-visual reference using –in an intuitive way- design strategies and concepts(2) as structure, depth, density, balance, contrast, hierarchy, linearity, continuity, transition, etc. Stage 2. Drawing as Speculative Process The exercises introduced in following courses (Descriptive Drawing II and Light Design) have to do with the potential and control that students have upon an existing space and light as a matter, medium and mean. In a first stage, students deal with a real environment, natural light and the possibilities of transforming introducing changes of scale and or introducing new elements. This exercise consists on a first analysis, survey and in-depth understanding of an existing space in order to be able to operate and transform it. Stage 3. Atmospheres Having a basic understanding on how to operate within a given space and evolve the process into a next stage of space making, the student is now ready to operate with real elements like space plus natural and artificial light. In this case, and following a logic course sequence, students taking a Light Course are able to analyze and operate with light as a technological mean. The presentation will focus on a conceptual approach to space design with light in the field of creation of atmospheres, always with a compromise with the understanding of the scale and size of a given space, where students are encouraged to work with analogue and digital tools and build their own full scale prototypes such as light devices, lamps, or light installations. Students are then, capable to transform spaces using natural or artificial light, knowing its behavior and its inherent relationship with space. It’s time to generate new spaces, new moods, and new atmospheres. After a theoretical introduction –which follows and replicates the structure from abstract to figurative lighting systems, from the world of art to the technical lighting fixtures and spec sheets- students are capable to understand light as an entity which behaves as a fluid or as a solid, an element that can reveal, conceal, hide, place emphasis, focus, camouflage, point out, flood, distort, frame and even lie.


  • Seguí, Javier. 2010.Ser Dibujo.Madrid: Mairea
  • Munari, Bruno. 2008. Design as Art. London: Penguin
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