Do we appreciate humanity’s deeper aesthetic needs?

The ancient appreciation of beauty

Together with art and taste, beauty is the main subject of aesthetics, one of the major and most discussed branches of philosophy. Beauty is commonly described as a feature of objects that makes these objects pleasurable to perceive. Objects such as architecture, tools, landscapes, and even sunsets.

Biophilia: The floral ornamentation in the Ranakpur Jain Temple has obvious similarities with visual expressions in most other ancient cultures.

The War on Beauty in the industrial and secularized era

The public discourse on beauty has been drastically reduced in the last decades, and beauty as a philosophical concept has in the modern world become a very alien one.

The spiritual desert of Le’ Corbusier — his utopian Ville Radieuse

Efficiency aesthetics in the age of metrics

In our digital age, with our widespread access to metrics, the focus on optimizing for efficiency has been further strengthened. Today, society has to a large degree replaced nature-centric and timeless aesthetics with solutions that ensure speed, high conversion rates, and replaceability. The great aesthetic narrative of modern society is in many ways centered around economic efficiency, disregarding our deeper nature and fragile minds.

Yonge-Dundas Square, Toronto
The booming of Headspace is an ironic sign of the times, with its synthetic sweet, irresistible, and dopamine-triggering candy shop aesthetics.

Sanctuaries to ease our minds

With our heads filled to the brim with distractions, we see how people try to build themselves sanctuaries where they can hide from the outside world. Whether it is setting up digital barriers, distancing themselves from unsustainable consumer patterns, or introducing mindful and low pace routines in their lives to ease their minds, many are now searching for calming experiences rooted deeper in our human nature.

Our surroundings affect our wellbeing

While aesthetic preference also is a social and cultural construct, research suggests that our perception of beauty is connected to biological adaptation. In other words, a universal human feature, derived from our belonging in nature. We are programmed to live and navigate in nature: To sense danger, feel safe, explore, and settle where food and water are within reach.

We need a rewriting of our overarching aesthetic narrative

As the world has become increasingly geared towards efficiency and capitalistic growth, we have rejected to design for our natural sensitivities. Modern society may be secularized, but the spiritual desert of the modern aspiration is still alien to our fragile mind.

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