Light. Lots and lots of natural light. Light is probably the single most important factor for me, and for a lot of people, in feeling comfortable in a space.
There's a reason for that. Exposure to sunlight stimulates the production of serotonin and melatonin, directly affecting mood and attitude. Sunlight helps regulate our circadian rhythm, manages our internal body clock, cures jet lag, and uplifts us.
I used to have an office job with a lack of sunlight issue. I couldn't stand the design of my building or my position in it. I had my own corner office, but I couldn't help but feel trapped there. I was located on the 7th floor of the office building which made me feel far from the earth; I didn't get enough sun exposure due to my office's position; and I was inundated with awful fluorescent lighting for eight hours a day or more. One of my more empathetic bosses used to come into my office almost daily and tell me, "You should go get your eyes on some green." This was a nice little reminder to go out onto the street level, grab some coffee at a coffee shop if I so pleased, and gaze at some grass and trees. In retrospect, I don't know how I could've survived that period without my "go get your eyes on some green" breaks. They were essential to my survival on the most primitive level.
At Tokyo Design Week, I found a designer who introduced natural light to a space in a really interesting way. Going along with the pervasive concept of breathable buildings at Tokyo Design Week was the design for a building with transparent outlines bordering its walls, allowing natural light to flow in as a frame. This somewhat challenges the presence of windows in a space, automatically giving me a bit of an unsettled feeling, (which isn't necessarily a bad thing)! But I believe this design element, if used very intentionally, could be a really beautiful one.
Fundamentally, I prefer big, gorgeous, sunlight-allowing windows. Even a whole wall of a window is nice as it sits you right in the outside world. The better the view, the more people want it to feel close to them.
So when would this design element of a light frame, rather than a window, be pleasurable?
Perhaps it could be used in conjunction with windows to lighten up a space. Maybe it's a good office element, alerting you to the time of day it is without the distraction of a full window view. For a bedroom element, it could also be lovely, assuming nobody is threatened by the ability to see into the bedroom through the frame.
This design idea is simple yet innovative. In any kind of design, assumptions should be thrown out of the metaphorical and in this case, literal, window. Why should a wall be solidly one surface? Why should traditional square, round, or rectangular windows be our main options for natural lighting in a room? I know we can think of more ways to bring the outside in and make buildings more breathable.
Could light borders be the new frame of the future?