I always knew I had a connection with Brad Pitt. Believe it or not, it wasn’t because of his undeniable good looks that led me to pick him out on a poster full of young, handsome, up-and-coming actors in 1993 and declare him my boyfriend.
The connection came years later when I was studying to become an architect and learned that he had an interest in architecture and the design of the built environment. The built environment is defined as the human-made space in which people live, work and recreate on a day-to-day basis. Those of us who are drawn to the impact of the built environment know it is a powerful pull. But it was Brad Pitt’s adorable interview with a young reporter on The Ellen DeGeneres Show that hammered home why one of the integral factors in our Strategic Branded Experience model is research-based design supported by science and psychology.
The 11 year old interviewer asked, “When you were my age, what did you want to be when you grew up?” To which Brad answered, “That’s a really good question! You know, I wanted to build homes. So I was thinking about building.”
“It was one of those natural things,” he continued. “I always was really affected by a room and I liked how it could effect your feelings and the way different people live and just the idea of construction. It was all fascinating to me.”
When I watched that interview, it struck me that all humans are affected by their built environment from a very young age, whether they know it or not.
I grew up in a “developer home” in a new neighborhood. There was sparse interior detailing. The windows had a thin, clamshell trim punched in flat exterior walls. It lacked a richness I couldn’t define at the time. It was a house that felt like a home because of the people in it and my Mom’s interior decorating touches.
At the same time, I remember visiting my best friend’s house in an older neighborhood. She had a nook where she could sit and read a book by the window in her bedroom. The baseboard and trim around the windows were wide and had beautiful profiles. A tight, winding stair opened up to an attic space with exposed rafters and vaulted ceilings that felt like a room out of a fairy-tale that was just big enough for us. I loved visiting her house and exploring all the interesting nooks and crannies. Though the people made it a home, the house also felt like it was made to nurture a family. It had its own personality, charm and character. I loved it inside and out. It was cozy, comfortable and made me feel good to be there nestled in its arms.
The types of spaces that we spend our time in have an incredible impact on our psyche. They affect our emotions, our productivity, and our health–just to name a few.
Environmental Psychology is a branch of science that explores the influence of our physical surroundings on how we think, feel, and act. This has been studied extensively in healthcare and the workplace for some time. The results show emphatically that design has the power to conjure well-being.
An article by Carrie Barron, M.D. in Psychology Today cites industrial psychologist, Cristina Banks, director of the Interdisciplinary Center for Healthy Workplaces at the University of California. She states that if the built environment meets eight human needs—physical, vitality, equity, connection, safety, flexibility, predictability, comfort and privacy—people are productive, happy and healthy. She says that spaces that stimulate conversation with others but also facilitate solitude bring out the best.
Research at Clemson University has led to several hospitals in the Carolinas renovating their spaces while taking the research into consideration. “Studies show that if facilities are designed correctly, patients will end up taking less pain medication, their length of stay is reduced and overall outcomes are more positive than if you don’t take into consideration natural light, colors, textures,” said Rowena Buffet Timm, senior vice president for government and community relations at Mission Health in Asheville, NC. “Our goal is to have a comprehensive approach to the healing environment.”
Another famous healthcare study demonstrates the power of a connection to nature within our built environment. Patients who had a window with a view to nature healed faster than those with a view to a brick wall. Another study went on to show that although a view to nature was best, patients in a room with a picture of nature healed faster than those with no picture of nature at all.
The phenomenon of daylight also has an impact on the employee experience in the workplace. An article in the Harvard Business Review cites a study that found optimization of natural light in an office significantly improves health and wellness among workers. In fact, this research revealed that workers in daylight office environments reported a 51% drop in the incidence of eyestrain, a 63% drop in the incidence of headaches and a 56% reduction in drowsiness. The Study found 78% of employees say access to natural light and views improves their wellbeing and 70% report improved work performance.
At DxDempsey we not only make sure we are on top of the latest research, but we also conduct our own. This is imperative to designing spaces that make people feel good and produce Return on Design Investment (RODI). This is why Research-based design is integral and essential to Strategic Branded Experiences. The next time you want to reduce some stress in the office, paint a few accent walls blue (if that’s “on brand” for you). The next time you want to design or renovate your workplace and make certain it includes all the factors of a Strategic Branded Experience in order to inspire people, engage employees and improve the bottom line, call us.