Art and Mindful Design
With new versions of LEED, the up and coming WELL Building standard and an overall focus on health and wellness, it is more important than ever to consider the impact that the spaces we design have on the everyday person. Many consider it a moral imperative, as new research continues to come out about the impact that spending the majority of our time inside has on our bodies. Whether you decide to comply to a standard or not, the benefits of creating healthy, engaging spaces including increased productivity, employee retention, and mood provide a serious incentive. It makes sense- if people enjoy a space, they are most likely to spend more time there; working, shopping, and living. From the WELL Building Standard:
“Integrating aesthetically pleasing elements into a space can help building occupants derive a measure of comfort or joy from their surroundings. The incorporation of design elements and artwork to a space can create a calming environment able to improve occupant mood.”
Art is a key component of driving and improving occupant mood. Often considered an afterthought, the use of art can provide a main source of engagement in indoor spaces and allows for spatial familiarity. With art, people are less disoriented by spaces with no obvious architectural distinctions such as hospitals or office towers. Distinct areas can be created by uniting the colors in the art with the lighting, furniture, and material selections making it unique, harmonious, and mood boosting. Meaningful artwork can provide “complexity to the visual field” making spaces more dynamic and engaging.
WELL states that the best places to include artwork are entrances and lobbies, as well as common spaces over 300ft2 where people would interact with the artwork often. Other areas in which to provide engagement are stairways and halls, and also open plan spaces where people find wayfinding helpful. One of the main ways to do this is to use art to carry the eye, and then the person, through the space. Whether it guiding them through a lobby, up a set of stairs, or showing them to the bar, art can be a great way of making people excited about their space and their destination.
What do you think of the WELL standard? Do you think it will catch on?
What is the most important aspect for you when designing a healthy space?
In what spaces do you feel art is the most important?