What is spatial thinking?

A designer needs to have spatial thinking. We tell in the cards what kind of skill it is, how it is used in everyday and professional tasks, and how to develop it.

What is spatial thinking?

This is the ability to navigate three-dimensional space, accurately represent the elements, and understand how they relate.

In everyday life, this helps to calculate the route, work with maps, and evaluate the volume and position of various objects. For example, when driving a car, the driver constantly controls how far other cars are from him, how much space they occupy, and how best he can move relative to them.

For some people, thinking this way is part and parcel of the job. For example, architects, thanks to spatial thinking, create accurate drawings and layouts of buildings; they calculate the proportions and characteristics of the future object and how it will fit into the location.

How does spatial thinking work?

Different mechanisms are associated with spatial thinking.

  • Visual perception and analysis: at first glance at some object or space, a person evaluates the proportions, location, and distance between different elements.
  • Visualization: Using your knowledge of an object, you can mentally draw it, move it in space, twist it, and reveal parts that are hidden from view.
  • Abstraction and transformation: a person can change or supplement an object with new details; imagine how it will be combined with other objects. And all this, taking into account their real parameters.
What is spatial thinking?

A person works with these images and solves various tasks, from everyday ones like choosing a route to professional ones (drawing, designing objects).

Where is spatial thinking used?

First of all, it is necessary for areas related to design. These are architecture, industrial production, engineering, various areas of design, and the fine arts. A developed spatial awareness allows you to create accurate and geometrically correct drawings, models, and compositions.

Spatial thinking is used by professionals related to navigation, such as drivers and pilots. And it is also necessary for scientific research, astronomy, geodesy, cartography, or wherever you need to understand how different objects interact correctly.

And for which of the designers is it especially important to have spatial thinking?

Everyone, but for some designers, spatial thinking is one of the key elements of work. First, these specialists work with 3D modeling, interior design, graphic design, and industrial design. Creating accurate and realistic models is essential in data visualization and game design.

For example, an interior designer constantly uses spatial thinking to visualize the future room. He places furniture, household items, and accessories on the layout, taking into account their realistic proportions and the footage of the room. Thanks to this, the customer will receive the design he approved on the plan after the repair and will not end up in an “expectation versus reality” situation.

How do I know if I have developed spatial thinking?

Every person has spatial thinking, but it is developed differently for everyone. Some people are perfectly oriented in space, others poorly correlate the volumes of objects and estimate the distance between them, and others work with space and volume so accurately that they can easily model them.

What is spatial thinking?

The easiest way to test your spatial thinking is to imagine a familiar room with furniture and decoration details in the right proportions. And then try to turn this room 90 degrees mentally—is it possible to save these details, their position relative to each other?

In everyday life, we perform various tasks related to spatial thinking; watch yourself. Do you manage to build a composition when you take a photo successfully? Is it easy to navigate the location of a computer game?

In addition, computer tests have now appeared to test volumetric-spatial thinking. There are tasks for mental movement—turning over different figures and finding a suitable element.

How can spatial thinking be developed?

The development of spatial thinking is also possible in adulthood; the main thing is to practice.

What’s nice is that you can do it in a game format. Puzzles and tasks work well:

  • Look for relationships between different objects.
  • Choose the missing element in a 3D model.
  • Arrange different shapes in a certain order.

And also, remember Rubik’s Cube and chess: in these games, you need to think through your actions several moves ahead, mentally drawing the positions of different blocks and figures. Even computer games develop spatial thinking as you move around the map and navigate complex terrain.

What is spatial thinking?

Learn to work with maps, plans, and drawings. Try to transform a flat image into a three-dimensional image mentally. Observe different objects and imagine them from other angles in motion.

Work with your hands: draw, sculpt from plasticine, or try architectural modeling. Sign up for training courses because here, the help of a master will not hurt. He will tell you how to work with different forms, perspectives, and volumes and point out mistakes.

Practice, and gradually you will see how mental and practical experiments with space and objects become easier and more accurate.


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