Inner space, outer space

On r/Battlestations, I often see setups that I admire. Gorgeous lighting, smart layout, personalised space. All that good stuff.

A typical battlestation.

But while I like these setups, in which technology is front and centre, I actually prefer a clear desk and bare walls. I prefer neutral colours and natural light. Which is why after browsing r/Battlestations, I’ll make my way to Pinterest and look up Japanese interior design. I’ll then spend even longer enjoying the shoji screens, the bare tatami mats, the unadorned floor furniture, the simple colours—basking in the pleasure of emptiness.

A classic Japanese interior.

I used to wonder why I did this, why I was so drawn to uncluttered spaces. But I think I know now; outer environments act as counter-balances to inner environments. I find empty spaces so soothing because my inner space is often so chaotic. I like simple, consistent, ordered spaces because my mind often feels like a maelstrom of conflicting, contrasting ideas and desires. If my mind is a raging storm, the spaces I prefer are serene ponds. 

I don’t know whether this extends to others. Does someone who loves mathoms and tsotchkes love them because they counter-balance an inner calm? Are filled up, disordered interiors preferred by people who have consistent worldviews and no problems with their own psychology? What does a clean, sharp lobby constructed from expensive materials say about the company that claims ownership of? Is it part of a coherent brand? Or is it a mask that disguises some attributes that the organisation—consciously or unconsciously—wishes to hide? Are the environments we create around us extensions or reflections of our inner selves?