It’s not necessarily a new conclusion – the idea that interior design impacts health and productivity – but the science behind why and how is becoming increasingly clear. New studies show a strong correlation between more productivity and clarity in the home and workplace when superior and appropriate design elements are incorporated.
Environment Affects Job Satisfaction
A recent study conducted by the Robert Wood Johnson RN Work Project has discovered that the physical work environment and layout directly impacts efficient teamwork and communication – which leads to better job satisfaction and less turnover.
From a practical perspective, the study reveals that the design of physical environments has few direct benefits, but many indirect ones. The study examined hospital nurses in particular and found that superior layouts and architectural designs allow nurses to complete necessary tasks without distraction or interruption. Additionally, the study looked at things like ambience, design features, lighting, colors, spatial arrangement, aesthetic appearance, and more. The more satisfactory the individual elements are, the happier and more productive the nurses are.
“Clearly, the physical work environment can affect nurses’ ability to do their jobs effectively and efficiently,” said Maja Djukic, lead author of the study. While the study made no assumptions regarding other industries and occupations, it can be logically assumed that employees in various sectors are affected by many of these same design and layout features.
Effect of Design on Thinking
In addition to indirectly impacting the brain’s ability to process information better and make quicker decisions, the design of a space may also have a more direct impact on how people think and feel. In fact, if you go all the way back to a 2007 study, you’ll find that Joan Meyers-Levy, marketing professor at the University of Minnesota, conducted a study and wrote a paper on the issue of spatial arrangements and how they influence human thinking.
“When a person is in a space with a 10-foot ceiling, they will tend to think more freely, more abstractly,” Meyers-Levy writes. “They might process more abstract connections between objects in a room, whereas a person in a room with an 8-foot ceiling will be more likely to focus on specifics.”
Furthermore, the more comfortable a person is with a room, the more likely they are to unwind and relax. Something as simple as custom designing a canvas print or incorporating meaningful pictures can help people feel more at home.
Color Impacts Mood
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe was one of the first people to acknowledge the correlation between color and mood when he published his book, Theory of Colours, in the 19th century. Since then, researchers have only continued to further study this connection.
Red symbolizes power, love, and passion and makes a room feel warmer and more intimate. Green tends to be a soothing color and a good choice for easing the transition from the outdoors to indoors. Blue evokes calmness and freshness and is perfect for heavily trafficked rooms. Black asserts power, while white is connected to perceptions of purity and cleanliness.
3 Tips for Enhancing the Design-Health Relationship
The science and research is certainly there, but how do you ensure the design-health relationship is a positive one in your own personal life? These three simple and brief home design tips should help you:
- Decorate above eye level. People rarely design above eye level, which is unfortunate. The higher you go, the larger you can make small spaces feel. By incorporating small touches or vertical pieces, you force people to take in the entire room – as opposed to only seeing the lower-half.
- Pay attention to lighting. If you’re lucky enough to have adequate windows and access to large amounts of natural lighting, take advantage of it. Bright rooms make people feel happier and more alert.
- Change colors. Finally, don’t underestimate the power of colors. While you may not want to repaint walls every day, you could try using the ilumi light which allows you to completely change the mood of any room with the click of a button.
With these three tips – and an understanding of recent research in this field – you can maximize your own living space and promote better mental health and awareness.