Did you know that a white kitchen can make you eat more? Brian Wansink, director of the Cornell University Food and Brand Lab, published his research on kitchen designs in his book, “Slim By Design.” His research discovered that white- and cream-colored kitchens agitate us and cause us to eat too much, too quickly.
More and more architects are looking at research that measures how design affects our health and happiness. A recent study by Susan Rodiek analyzed the implications of well-designed outdoor spaces on the health of older adults. The research confirms that time spent outdoors creates health benefits such as better sleeping patterns, less pain, better recovery from disability, and even increased longevity. Important outdoor features identified in her research included high accessibility, clear indoor-outdoor connections, safe paving, good maintenance, and a comfortable seating areas.
Natural light and restful views are critical to our well-being. Being in day-lit spaces has many positive effects — research shows children learn better and our psychological health is enhanced. Richard Stevens found that the natural 24-hour cycle of light and dark helps maintain alignment of circadian biological rhythms to help our bodies function normally. Certain types of artificial nighttime lighting, he found, can adversely affect our health.
Do you love the water? Mathew White’s research confirmed that a view of water (even a functioning fountain) decreases stress levels and restocks mental energy.
The color temperature of light also effects us. Martine Knoop’s study showed that we are more relaxed and creative in warm light. Cooler lights are more energizing, so for a better workout, put 5,000K light bulbs in your exercise room.
Abundant storage is a common request from our clients, because it seems we naturally sense what Rachel Kaplan has proven: visual clutter is stressful. Kaplan found that visual clutter creates anxiety and can impede the function of the space. In the kitchen, Wansink determined that people with cluttered countertops ate 44 percent more snack food. Likewise, he found that a raised counter in the kitchen that hides the sink and prep dishes from the table creates a more enjoyable meal.
Good design does matter and some architecture may, over time, produce the same health benefits as meditation. But, according to Dr. Julio Bermudez, with much less effort by the individual.