In the light of celebrating the end of the year, spending time together comes to the fore. During this period, we experience closeness and connection in public and private spaces. The hosts of gatherings carry the responsibility of creating spaces that are conducive to connection, and the guests bond over new and existing learnings about each other. Spending time with company in an environment that deepens connection makes all the difference. One question arises amidst this - how can the physical environment accommodate deep bonding between strangers and friends, alike? The answer rests on the sense of place and emotional attachment.
The way a place is perceived influences well-being, interpersonal interactions, and overall comfort of residing in a certain space. Through the experiences of immersion, socialisation and connectivity, emerges the ability to focus, to be present, and to develop emotional attachment. Crafting these experiences with intentionality could be the key to tapping into deeper bonding. When designing a space for group interaction, we must remember that emotions are context-specific experiences which we create through making associations with places, people, and things. Knowing this, designing an inviting space for everyone could be a delicate undertaking.
A common sense of place could be created by tapping into calming, lowkey sensory experiences that predispose to openness. Dimming the lights, playing slightly muted but grounding music, and creating inviting smells all could be immersive experiences - welcoming guests into socialisation. Fostering a comfortable environment for interaction could be just as crucial for connectivity. Putting intention into the formation of the seating around a focused space - whether a dining table, a living room coffee table, or a bonfire, would allow guests to form their own personal spaces and feel invited to speak into the group. Of course, a sense of inclusion is fundamental to connectivity, too, and it could be designed for with a unitary set of tableware, and starting common activities (such as boardgames or dinner preparation) and conversations (such as playing a questions card deck).
Gatherings are intuitive and free-flowing events. While they cannot be forced to run in a certain mood, they can be designed to stimulate attitudes. Connectivity is an experience that can be curated. When given thought and time to come to life, it has the power to build relationships, stories and memories.