A World of Thought

How might the design of reflective & contemplative spaces in the physical world translate to a virtual context?

Much has been written about contemplative design in the physical world. From the ideas of sacred geometry or the modes of ritual-architectural presentation to tested systems such as the Contemplative Landscape Model, there are many techniques that can be applied to the design of real-world spaces to promote reflective contemplation.

Virtual reality has long been used as a method for reorienting one's sense of space, often to extraordinary artistic effect. And recently, with headsets becoming increasingly accessible to consumers, there has been uptick in apps for relaxation and meditation. However, the design of these apps tends to focus on sensory deprivation or reproducing wilderness rather than following the principles that would guide the design of a similar space in the physical world.

In this study, we are interviewing design professionals who have experience designing for the physical world and are interested in reflective contemplation. We hope to learn from how they practice their craft, and find ways that their methods might be translated to the virtual space.


Who is conducting this study?

This study is being conducted by Nate Laffan, a Phd Student in the SET Lab at the University of California Santa Cruz.

How can I help?

Are you a design practitioner (or environmental psychologist) who is interested in reflection or contemplation? We are looking to hear from landscape architects, interior designers, traditional architects, lighting designers, acousticians and anyone else who has professional experience designing these spaces. Interviews will happen over the first two weeks of August, 2023. Participants will be interviewed once and each interview shouldn't last more than half an hour. If you are interested in participating, please write nlaffan@ucsc.edu.

How will these interviews be used?

These interviews will be used in two ways. The first will be in the development of suggested guidelines for creating virtual reflective space. We hope to publish these in an upcoming paper at CHI 2024. The second will be in the practical application of these guidelines, where we will develop virtual reality spaces that support reflective contemplation. These spaces will be built and tested over the course of the next academic year and constitute the basis of a further study in late 2024.