What I’ve Got: Dormers

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Dunster House—one of the most beautiful upperclassmen houses in Harvard (no, I’m totally not biased). On the exterior, Dunster is an architectural display of class and elegance down to every detail, including—if you squint and look very closely at the bottom of the page—its dormers. Dormers certainly play on the “aesthetic pleasure” side of Desmet’s and Hekkert’s theory on production experience; they are also functional, in a way, as they allow rooms in the roof of houses to still get windows. Thus, they can be seen as a desirable design: they help alleviate the challenge of fitting rooms into every corner of a building, even one with a sloped roof.

Stepping into the interior, however, tells a slightly more complicated story. 

I’m currently in a room with dormer. And while some rooms with dormers (like the one above) can look incredibly nice, dormers can also be problematic for interior design. The key distinguishing factor is the size of the room. Larger rooms still receive a fair amount of light and space even with dormers, while smaller rooms feel cramped and dark. My bedroom is incredibly small, so the only configuration that works is placing my bed underneath a dormer… which means a lot of head bumping. Thus, the design does not evoke a positive emotional response from me, and my product experience suffers.

So are dormers a desirable design? It really depends on the person. For most people, dormers are likely a desirable design. For those in my situation, the opposite will likely be true. It comes down to choosing between a utilitarian or individual approach in determining whether a design is desirable in this case. But dormers definitely offer an interesting glance into how designs can be desirable or undesirable depending on the point of view.

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