Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Interior Design

Degree Level



Interior Design


Terry, Laura

Committee Member/Reader

Morrissey, Sean

Committee Member/Second Reader

Fitzpatrick, Lynn


This capstone explores the concept of genius loci through photographic and artistic exploration and does so through a lens of study set on Rome, Italy. The first major goal of the process has been to discover the elements, moments, physical textures, and other design elements that comprise the genius loci of a city or space. The second goal has been to partake in a process that can be used by myself and other designers in efforts to make more conscious design decisions — gaining a better understanding of ‘sense of place’ can assist designers in straying from globalized, placeless design.


interior design, architecture, photography, printmaking, place, travel, service learning


In this capstone, I have explored the meaning, implications, and philosophy of genius loci. In classic Roman religion, genius loci was thought of as a protective spirit presiding over a sacred place or space. The existence of differing spatial purposes results in a demand for “places with … different character[s].” Consequently, churches, dwellings, and other intimate spaces were said to have a protective spirit or guardian that protected the essence of the place (Norberg-Schulz, Genius Loci: Towards a Phenomenology of Architecture). In contemporary times, the idea of genius loci is more of a philosophy as opposed to a physical entity. Simultaneously, it has spread beyond religion and seeped into the world of design. Genius loci is hard to define in one way – it can be a juxtaposition of tangible and intangible factors. What actually defines genius loci in one place or culture can differ from another (as it can be a very experiential phenomenon). During my travels, I intuitively experienced each place I visited in a different way. Repetitive elements like shutters, streetlamps, and walls washed with color are distinct to Rome. I felt a difference in richness and experiential quality when in Rome than I did in Paris where slate-gray roofs, scrolled iron balconies, and protruding chimneys shape the character of the city. The change in architectural and cultural components from city to city encourages a different way of seeing and feeling the effect of place. Despite the metaphysical qualities of this concept and its reputation for being beyond description, this is also where the beauty of genius loci lies.

This research examined specific architects and interior designers, case studies, and places before deciding to study Rome, Italy after I spent an extensive amount of time there. Photographic analysis, color studies, artistic exploration, iteration, and a personal love for the city of Rome – walking the streets, immersing myself into the culture, being constantly surrounded by history – unite for a comprehensive investigation into what defines the genius loci of Rome for me. A secondary goal of this process has been to explore a potential methodology for understanding cities and what makes each one unique. This understanding can be applied when making design decisions, thus allowing designers to consciously stray from ubiquitous design while reinstituting the positive power of place.

BOARD 1.pdf (6860 kB)
BOARD 2 - NEW.pdf (1455 kB)
BOARD 3.pdf (11720 kB)