As I launch myself into a spot of home decorating, I’m reminded that objects represent meaning.
Colour schemes, styles of furniture, whether spaces are crowded or minimalist and even what kind of intimacy a space has, are all part of the visual language of interior design. And this kind of design, says volumes about who we are or want to appear to be.
As we decorate our personal spaces we engage in a kind of worldbuilding which tells the viewer a range of things about us based on the meaning they attach to those same objects. What’s interesting is that the meaning attached mightn’t be the same for them as for us.
That is something I often think of as a lover of Austen and Conan Doyle. What tiny hints and clues to status or character do we miss as modern readers because the language of objects (as well as many of the objects themselves) have changed over the intervening century?
It’s something that the best worldbuilders in spec fic do to perfection… using the POV character’s eyes to teach us what objects mean in a world we’ve never seen. Obviously it’s also the biggest challenge of worldbuilding where the world doesn’t correlate closely to the world outside the book, not only because it makes setting hard to picture, but also because we don’t get that attached meaning.