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  • Writer's pictureBella Zhang

Bring Beauty to Business


- A dialogue with Aesthetic Research Lab (ARL) -


A few weeks ago, Micheal Spicher PH.D., who is the founder of Aesthetic Research Lab (ARL), interviewed me on the topic of aesthetics and my work as an organisational consultant and facilitator. There are five main questions involved, you can read the summary and outline down below.

Click the link to read the full interview:

1. What brought you to think about aesthetics in your career? And what do you mean by aesthetics?
...Every time I encounter beauty, I can feel a warm and magical sensation in my heart that always makes me smile...Most of us are under a lot of pressure to perform and focus too much on external stimuli. I firmly believe aesthetics provides an antidote to our stress and anxiety; it helps us reconnect to our senses and inner world, enabling us to practice “being” instead of “doing.”

2. How do you think aesthetics can benefit your work and the work of people in similar roles?
As a facilitator and a coach, I think it’s extremely important to redirect people’s awareness to the present moment and help them reconnect to their bodily senses and their surroundings. This allows them to be temporarily disconnected from their compulsory thought patterns and opens up an inner space that is ready to learn, share, and initiate change. Aesthetics is helpful in this process for both participants as well as facilitators and coaches; it helps us ground ourselves and reconnect to things we often overlook when we work on autopilot.
In addition, aesthetics helps people connect with each other. As human beings, we have an innate love of beauty. Regardless of age, gender, race, ethnicity, religion, or economic status, all of us can have an aesthetic response toward what we perceive through our senses...we can create an inclusive atmosphere and a common ground for dialogue by allowing participants to co-create an aesthetic experience together.

3. Why do you think people neglect or even dismiss, aesthetics as an important aspect of the business?
I think part of the reason is because it is so accessible. If you look for beauty, you see it everywhere. Just like the air we breathe in, it is deeply ingrained in our everyday lives, but we easily forget about its value and existence. And just like the air, our life is dependent on it. If oxygen is a necessity for our bodily survival, I’d say aesthetics brings emotional and spiritual nourishment to our existence...
...the traditional business approach or mindset has limited our understanding of business or what matters to business; too much emphasis is placed on short-term profitability...what is missing is the humane side of it. Ultimately, people who are running and working for the business are not machines, they are humans who have feelings, emotions, imaginations, and aesthetic needs. Therefore, we cannot take aesthetics out of the equation when talking about running a successful and sustainable business...

4. What do you hope to do in the next phase of your career? And in what way will aesthetics play a part? And how much of a part?
The next phase of my career will focus on well-being promotion and cultivating transformational growth for individuals, groups, organizations, and society as a whole. In this process, art, nature, and aesthetics work together to help restore balance and harmony toward an inclusive and sustainable future. Aesthetics plays a central role because it is an innate desire that connects us, and it is a transformative power that enables us to briefly transcend time and space, shifting our awareness to a state of equilibrium, peace, and joy...
...Many divisive voices permeate the news and the internet, and we are also facing enormous challenges ahead. It is time to come back to what connects us all: the longing for beauty. Through perceiving and sensing beauty, we can evoke the inner beauty that radiates the energy of love, kindness, and compassion to the world around us...

5. Can you tell me something that you think people misunderstand about aesthetics? And what can we do to help change that?
...One of the most stereotypical associations is “aesthetics = being pretty.” Aesthetics is indeed related to beauty, but at the same time, something can be beautiful but not necessarily pretty; these two are not the same thing. This misunderstanding might partly be a result of our spoken language...
Another misunderstanding is to think aesthetics can only be used in art. Indeed, we often talk about aesthetics when we look at artworks, but aesthetics means more than just art. Based on its original meaning in Ancient Greek, aesthetics means sensation and perception. Therefore, we can have an aesthetic experience when perceiving an artwork, but that does not mean aesthetics only exists in the art world...
...people often tend to think aesthetics only belongs to certain groups in society, or only certain people have the privilege to include aesthetics in their lives. This has led many to believe aesthetics is too untouchable...and has nothing to do with ordinary people’s everyday lives. ...Aesthetics exists in every moment of our life and is accessible to everyone...it can be something very subtle but extraordinary at the same time.

This summer I had a reflection on this topic, and my personal experience inspired me to write a short paragraph on aesthetics and the meaning it has brought into my life:

用双手去创造美好,
用心去接纳美好,
用身体去感知美好。
在喧嚣纷扰的现实世界中,
让我们用对美的追求与向往,
在内心构建一片净土,
和一个能带给我们愉悦与滋养身心的空间。
美并非只属于高端奢华的社会群体与生活方式,
它存在于生活的每个微小的瞬间。
也许是当早晨第一缕阳光照进窗内的那一刻;
也许是当树叶被风吹拂起地面的那一刻;
也许是当你看见墙面挂着的一幅画的时刻;
也许是在夜幕降临时,
当你不经意看着人潮涌动、车水马龙的瞬间。
人类对美的感知是与生俱来的,
也是敏感而微妙的,
因此我们是可以把美融入到生活中的每个细节。
每一次与美的相遇都会带给我们心灵与灵魂的震撼与感动,
一次又一次,
我们在美中觉醒、重生;
一次又一次,
我们在美中获得新的希望与勇气。
用美带给我们的灵感去创造、去改变、去传递爱、去歌颂生命、去追寻梦想。

(English translation)
Creating beauty with our hands,
Receiving beauty with our hearts,
Experiencing beauty with our bodies.
In the hustle and bustle of life,
We shall use our love and longing for beauty to build a pure land or a sacred space that brings us joy and nourishment.
Beauty does not only belong to high-end luxury social groups or their lifestyles,
It exists in the little moments of life.
Maybe it is the moment when the first ray of morning sunlight comes through the window;
Maybe it is the moment when the leaves are blown off the ground by the wind;
Maybe it is the moment when you see a painting hanging on the wall;
Maybe it is when night falls,
You are standing on the street and watching the busy traffic and people passing by.
Humans have an innate connection to beauty that is sensitive and subtle;
We are always able to integrate beauty into every aspect of life.
Each encounter with beauty astonishes and touches our hearts and souls.
Again and again,
We are enlightened and reborn when experiencing beauty;
again and again,
We find new hope and courage in beauty.
Let us use the inspiration that beauty brings us to create, change, radiate love, appreciate life, and pursue our dreams!
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