Creating a mood room

By Ann Griswold • Published: August 21st, 2009
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Have you ever procrastinated by rearranging furniture and decorations to create the perfect workspace? Many people feel things have to be “just so” for them to concentrate on their work. Social scientists say there’s something very justified in that behavior.

The idea that architecture can alter creativity is nothing new, but the theory gained momentum in the 1950s when a man by the name of Jonas Salk claimed that the beautiful architecture of Italy provided the impetus for his discovery of the polio vaccine. Salk’s theory is now a branch of social science called environmental psychology.

Nowadays, an increasing number of buildings are designed with a purpose… often to encourage the creativity of artists, the alertness of students, relaxation or social intimacy. Researchers have even focused on how the look and layout of a hospital or psychiatric facility influences patients’ health outcomes.

Even things like ceiling height can affect thinking styles. Vaulted ceilings promote abstract thought but low ceilings may help surgeons focus on the details. And looking out the window may seem like a distraction to your boss, but views of gardens and other natural settings can actually improve focus. Likewise, natural lighting can help students stay alert, but by the same token, bright lights can increase tension. And when it comes to furniture, hostesses can promote social interaction by placing chairs in small groups rather than along the wall.

So if you find yourself rearranging more than working, think about these tips. Maybe it’s time for a change!