Well, I have discovered, much to my surprise, that as I've been following this little trail of books on design of buildings and rooms that I'm fairly squarely in aesthetics and, what's more exciting, is that I'm in a moderately new area of aesthetics (new as in the last 10-15 years which really is new in philosophy) called environmental aesthetics with my interest being in built environment as opposed to naturally occurring environment (which would be "the wild" and even US national parks probably wouldn't easily qualify as "the wild").
Regardless of having found myself in a new field or not, I'm finding this stuff just fascinating and has me wondering how much someone who graduates with a degree in architecture actually learns about this stuff and, if it is learned, how much is actually used. Or is architecture, in practice, less about art and more about satisfying the customers desires? Of course, I'd say that most customers could be fairly easily educated on this stuff since what I'm reading about is the way in which design influences how we feel and that with a well designed space, people will simply be happier in their space and who wouldn't want that?
Reading and thinking about this stuff reminds me of a favorite article of mine "The End of the Museum" by Nelson Goodman in which he notes that art should be experienced in the everyday not in museums. It seems to me that architecture and food are the two arts that still have the potential to be widely experienced by folks in their artistic form but are more likely than not experienced only in their utilitarian form and the artistic form is reserved for those who have a significant amount of money.
So, I'm going shopping today (yes, the Sunday before Xmas, not my idea) and what am I thinking about? The design of the 4 malls in town and why it is that the newest mall is the one that I find so icky to be in - despite the fact that it has more stores that I really like than the mall I prefer. You'd think that when designing a mall you'd work on making it the sort of place where one would linger and, thus, be more inclined to purchase. But, then again, I always think it's stupid to make grocery stores frigid so you want to get out as quickly as possible -- again, don't you want folks lingering a bit with the thought that the longer they are there, the more likely they are to purchase things? Maybe it doesn't work that way. Maybe the longer we are somewhere the more likely we are to come to our sense and put stuff back that we don't really need/want. So, perhaps making malls & grocery stores vaguely hostile is a good thing. Whatever. I'm off to read The Timeless Way of Building.