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Awe-Inspiring Furniture: How to Harness Design and Science for a Breathtaking Interior

When Bryan Moore, a sales associate at Copenhagen San Antonio, moved into his new apartment, he was stirred by a feeling of awe. “I really loved the finishes, the layout, and the complex as a whole,” he says. “Everything felt just right.” Though some may think of awe as only being attainable in faraway, monumental locations, Moore’s experience is one example of how we also have the potential to feel awed by our everyday surroundings, including our homes. And with companies like Copenhagen that focus on exceptional quality and cutting-edge design, it’s easier than ever to curate incredible interiors.

But first, let’s dive deeper into an exploration of what awe is – and why we should seek it out more.

The science of awe

Defined as what we feel “in the presence of something vast that transcends our understanding of the world,” awe has become an increasing focus of scientific study. Dacher Keltner and Jonathan Haidt, two leading researchers in the psychology of awe, state that this emotion can be broken down into two components. The first, “perceived vastness,” describes our reaction to something that is physically much larger than us, or that carries a mental impression of profoundness. The second component, “need for accommodation,” refers to our need to adjust our worldview after having an awe-inspiring experience.

According to Keltner and Haidt, triggers for awe include witnessing great beauty, skill, virtue, danger, or perceived supernatural phenomena. One of the most common places we feel awe is out in nature, with one estimate stating that about 3 in 4 awe experiences are related to the natural world – think of gazing at the Grand Canyon, walking through a redwood forest, or catching a stunning sunset. This may overlap with the human tendency for biophilia, or the instinctive pull we feel toward nature and living things.

We can also feel awe in response to human phenomena – think about looking at your favorite painting, admiring the prowess of an Olympic athlete, or feeling moved by an activist fighting injustice. Indeed, some experts state that the potential for awe surrounds us in our daily lives, and we only need to be receptive to it.

Because research shows that feeling awe comes with a wealth of benefits*, it follows that we should strive to surround ourselves with more chances to be awestruck. Since beauty and skill are common triggers for awe, and furniture and interiors can undoubtedly be designed beautifully and skillfully, we can build spaces that let us and our guests feel the wonders of awe at home. Moore agrees, saying, “Having a stunning interior can create a difference between walking into a room and just seeing furniture, and walking into a room and feeling inspired or welcome. This is achieved by creating a complete look – furniture, rugs, lighting, and accessories.”

Read on for features to look out for if you crave an interior that will leave you amazed – plus Moore’s personal picks for extraordinary furniture at Copenhagen.

Exceptional craftsmanship and creativity

A sense of deep admiration and satisfaction can come from surrounding yourself with finely crafted items. “For instance,” Moore says. “Pay attention to the lines of the legs and the material used on a dining table, or the mixture of materials used for case goods or upholstered pieces. For upholstery, the pattern and weave of a fabric, or the luster and feel of a leather, can really create a sumptuous feeling.”

Moore loves the extendable Quasar Table, whose glass frame allows a full view of the wheels and gears in its expansion mechanism. Equally intricate is the Cristaline Table, featuring a floral medallion pattern etched under its glass top. Sculptural table bases are another eye-catching feature – from the gracefully balanced hourglass shape of the Clessidra, to the bronze-finished planes and vertices of the Skorpio.

For upholstery with an opulent feel, you may enjoy aniline leathers or three-dimensional fabrics. The Paxon Bed is upholstered in Belmont fabric with a unique slubbed texture, while the Empire Sofa boasts Premio leather that’s highly soft and supple. Made by Stressless®, the Magic Chair and Ottoman easily inspire wonder with their luxurious Noblesse leather and blissfully comfortable ergonomic features.

A connection to nature or the cosmic

Because so many awe experiences are connected to nature, consider bringing the splendor of the outdoors, indoors, with materials, finishes, or patterns that evoke nature. For example, the breathtaking Crystalart top of the Atlantis Dining Table has flowing striations that recall the movement of water over a coastline. Moore loves the Nasdaq Desk for its dramatic shape and Sahara Noir ceramic marble that, when combined, create an impression of a rock face or sheer cliff. The Voyager Sideboard is yet another unique piece, with a black studded pattern resembling constellations.

Artwork is a relatively simple way to infuse your space with the grandeur of nature – especially if the art depicts wide vistas or large-scale natural formations that connect you to a sense of vastness. Light in the Dark offers a panoramic view of a sunset over an ocean, while Braided Water is a snapshot that captures the power of an ocean wave, suspended in time. Painted by Cody DeLong, the Aspen Reign wall art uses a distinctive lowered perspective to convey the majestic height of a grove of aspen trees.

Grandeur in scale

Though nature is often associated with a perception of immensity, you can evoke a similar feeling in indoor spaces by using large furniture pieces or accessories that create a sense of gravity and a strong focal point. Just make sure you have adequate space for them, and that such pieces mesh well with the proportions of the room. A sectional is a great example of a large-scale item that is both visually impressive and highly comfortable. “If you’re looking for a sectional with a ‘wow’ factor, I recommend the New York Sectional,” Moore says. “It’s got a classic look with clean lines, yet its rounded form also makes a unique statement.” To bring boldness to your bedroom, you may enjoy beds with wide, tall, or extra-plush frames, like the Marlon, whose leather-upholstered headboard extends out to either side in a sweeping design.

Large accessories are another way to add awe and ambiance to a room. Try an artwork with a generously sized canvas, like the vibrant Sophia portrait, or an expansive patterned rug like the Diamondback. Mirrors – like the Edge, with a leaning design and built-in shelf – are a great tool for making a room look more spacious, especially if you live in a smaller space.

A touch of magic

One-of-a-kind pieces that seem magical or surreal can create a stunning accent. You may deeply enjoy spending time with works that enthrall you or feel like an escape from the ordinary. Moore says, “Pay attention to things like the glaze on a table lamp, the shape or finish of a mirror, the colors or themes in an artwork, or the form of a sculpture. Anything can be a conduit for awe.”

For instance, the Phantom Mirror invokes an otherworldly effect by juxtaposing a flat mirrored left side with a three-dimensional right side molded into fantastical peaks and valleys. The Wave Floor Lamp has a design that resembles a billowing sheet suspended in air. To add a spectacular mood to your next gathering, try the Orbit Mirror Wall Bar – its rainbow of LED lights can sync to the beat of music and create a feast for the senses.

Whether we are contemplating a sky full of stars or sitting at an exquisitely crafted table, our world is full of opportunities to be awestruck. If you’d like to bring a touch of transcendence to your interior, Copenhagen may have just what you’re looking for. Come visit us and explore our marvelous modern designs.

* Current empirically validated benefits of feeling awe include:

• enhancing creative and critical thinking, expanding our concept of the world, and encouraging us to take a large-scale perspective
• letting us be more mindful and immersed in the present, and allowing us to feel like we have more time
• reducing stress, loneliness, depression, and physical pain, as well as lowering inflammation
• increasing compassion, love, gratitude, and optimism
• making us feel more connected to others and the external world
• promoting prosocial behaviors like helping and sharing