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The Phenomenology of Roundness and Its Use in Design Report (Assessment)


While designing interiors, it is important to take into account what feelings this or that particular feature of the interior will induce in individuals observing it. Therefore, it is paramount to reflect upon how different shapes and forms are perceived by people. The book by Gaston Bachelard is an example of such reflection. In this paper, the aims of one of the chapters of this book, The poetics of space, will be analysed; it will also be considered whether these aims were achieved. After that, the relevance of the content and its possible uses in the current interior designing practice will be scrutinised. The way in which the data was worked upon will be described prior to the analysis.

Tutorial Agenda

In order to write this paper, the author thoroughly read and analysed the chosen work. Because the text by Bachelard (1994) is concerned with the phenomenon of roundness, and it was necessary to find out how this can be utilised in interior design, a number of works pertaining to interior design (namely, Schittich (2002) and Hughes (2008)) were also examined in order to find what they have to state about the round shape in interiors. After reading the text by Bachelard (1994), the author reflected upon the provided ideas in the context of their use in the designing practice.

Aims of the Text

The book The poetics of space written by a prominent French philosopher Gaston Bachelard is a work which is aimed at providing a phenomenological reflection upon the space; the reflection can then be applied in architecture. The book was supposed to supply concrete considerations about the experience of space as a basis for an architect’s work, in contrast to the traditionally rational, but abstract considerations about which forms or shapes people may like.

In particular, the tenth chapter of the book, which is entitled “The phenomenology of roundness,” is aimed at exploring the experience of roundness (Bachelard, 1994). The author states that a number of thinkers experienced being as one that appears round in shape. It is argued that it would be productive to view being as one that indeed is round, not just appears to be round. The author claims that roundness is “a form that guides and encloses our earliest dreams” (Bachelard, 1994, p. 239), apparently attempting to show that roundness is a feature of being that has some intrinsic value to many people.

How Effectively the Text Achieves its Aims

It is possible to argue that, in spite of the fact that Bachelard (1994) directly refuses to provide arguments for his position, instead just giving numerous examples of how space and/or being are or can be perceived as round, he is successful in demonstrating that roundness is a shape which may often stand out from the other types of shapes. The examples which the philosopher supplies show that numerous individuals may perceive roundness as something that can be characterized as intimate and kind, and, at the same time, perfect.

For instance, the author asserts that “everything round invites a caress” (Bachelard, 1994, p. 236). The thinker urges his audience to reflect upon the experience of roundness, and, even if the readers did not previously give that issue a thought, it appears likely that such reflection will reveal that roundness may indeed be associated with something which is intimate and warm to individuals. Therefore, it is arguable that the philosopher succeeds in his aim to show the distinctive place of roundness in the human experience of space.

How Relevant the Text is to the Current Interior Design Practice

It might be possible to state that the work by Bachelard (1994) is rather relevant to the current interior design practices. On the whole, it is paramount to stress that, although the original work was published in 1958, it still remains up to date due to the fact that it exposes the feelings pertaining to the experience of space that an individual has instead of sticking to the abstract analytical methods which may not be appropriate when it is needed to understand what an individual feels in this or that particular situation.

It might be claimed that the basic experience described in the book is related to the way in which the human perceives space in general, and, therefore, they remain relevant even as the time passes. Because in the process of designing and creating interiors it is crucial to take into account the manner in which it will be perceived by people, the work by Bachelard (1994) is capable of providing a number of insights into the way in which to create these interiors.

It is also worth highlighting that, because the text in question offers an account of roundness as a shape which may be perceived as a property of being as a whole, as well as something that is rather intimate and warm, it may be useful to implement this form while designing interiors which are meant to create the feeling of comfort. On the other hand, it is possible to speculate that the absence of round shapes in the interior will lead people to perceive that interior as more formal, perhaps even stern and devoid of comfort.

How the Text Advanced My Interior Design Thinking

The text by Bachelard (1994) has provided me with a number of ideas pertaining to the way in which one may design interiors. For instance, it permitted me to better realize what role the forms and shapes play in the manner in which individuals perceive and subconsciously assess the surrounding space.

Of course, it was clear that people sometimes distinctly prefer one type of forms to another; for instance, it is evident that using the round shape actively can make the feelings that a person has while perceiving the interior significantly more pleasant (Schittich, 2002); but here, it is paramount that the preference rather often may be unconscious or unarticulated.

Therefore, thanks to this text, in my professional career I will pay more attention to the utilization of the shapes and forms that are round (circular, oval, and so on). In addition, it is noteworthy that the feeling of roundness can be created by using a certain combination of straight vertical and horizontal lines or some other forms and patterns (Hughes, 2008). Thus, while designing an interior, I will also attempt to utilize the patterns which may induce the impression of roundness upon their beholders without straightforwardly being round. This is especially useful due to the fact that certain architectural peculiarities (for instance, the presence of right angles) do not allow for the extensive use of the round shape.


Therefore, it should be stressed that “The phenomenology of roundness,” the chapter of Gaston Bachelard’s book, provides an account of how roundness may often be perceived by individuals. Because this shape is one that is often viewed as intimate and warm, it should be utilised while designing interiors if these interiors are to induce the sense of comfort in their observers.


Bachelard, G. (1994). The phenomenology of roundness. In The poetics of space (pp. 232-241). (M. Jolas, Trans.). Boston, MA: Beacon Press. (Original work published 1958).

Hughes, A. (2008). Interior design drawing. Ramsbury, UK: The Crowood Press.

Schittich, C. (Ed.). (2002). Interior spaces: Space, light, materials. Kempten, Germany: Kösel GmbH & Co.

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IvyPanda. 2020. "The Phenomenology of Roundness and Its Use in Design." October 1, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-phenomenology-of-roundness-and-its-use-in-design/.


IvyPanda. (2020) 'The Phenomenology of Roundness and Its Use in Design'. 1 October.

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