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Radermacher and her colleagues probed links between office design and recruitment of employees.  They investigated “corporate architecture as an effective signal to knowledge workers in the recruiting process. Two types of corporate architecture that are common in the knowledge economy are distinguished: traditional functionalist and new functionalist architecture. New functionalist architecture combines a flat, transparent facade with semi-open office layouts including areas for social interaction. Holistically these functional elements signal and symbolize a non-bureaucratic, non-hierarchical organization.”  Data collected indicate that “Students’ [young potential knowledge workers’] stated preferences imply that they would forgo on average 10% of their starting salary in order to work in the new functionalist rather than the traditional functionalist workplace. The magnitude of this effect supports the view that architecture matters for job choice.”

Katharina Radermacher, Martin Schneider, Anja Iseke, and Tobias Tebbe.  “Signalling to Young Knowledge Workers Through Architecture?  A Conjoint Analysis.”  German Journal of Human Resource Management, in press.

The US Department of Veterans Affairs reports that it has linked architectural/interior design consistent with the recommendations embedded in its Mental Health Environment of Care Checklist to fewer suicides by inpatients in its mental health units.   The Mental Health Environment of Care Checklist is available free via the website noted below.  Some details “A multidisciplinary group of VA employees developed the program to review inpatient mental health units and eliminate hazards that could increase the chances of patient suicide or self-harm. The group focused on architectural changes, with analyses suggesting that structural hazards such as anchor points like a hook on the wall or a ceiling vent were linked to most attempted or completed suicides. . . . The checklist asks questions such as whether beds, walls, and ceiling vents are free of anchor points for hanging. Other potential hazards include non-shatterproof glass and non-tamper-resistant electrical outlets.”  Another example of material in the checklist: “Shelving that has no sharp edges and is bolted to the walls avoids the potential suicide and self-harm risks associated with standard shelves or cabinets.”  The VA study of the effectiveness of its checklist is published in Psychiatric Services. 

“Study:  Physical Environment Checklist Leads to Sharp Decline in Inpatient Suicides at VA Facilities.  2016.  Press release, US Department of Veterans Affairs, http://www.research.va.gov/currents/1116-7.cfm

Kim and team found via a study analyzing over 11,000 single-family home sales in Austin, Texas that house prices are affected by nearby trees.  They report that “Many empirical studies assessing the economic benefits of urban green space have continually documented that green space tends to increase both value and sale price of nearby residential properties. . . .  this study examined the association between landscape spatial patterns of urban green spaces and single-family home sale transactions. . . . we found that that larger tree and urban forest areas surrounding single-family homes positively contributed to property values, while more fragmented, isolated and irregularly shaped landscape spatial patterns resulted in the inverse.”

Jun-Hyun Kim, Wei Li, Galen Newman, Sung-Ho Kil, and Sun Park.  “The Influence of Urban Landscape Spatial Patterns on Single-Family Housing Prices.”  Environment and Planning B:  Planning and Design, in press.

Harold, Lorenzoni, Shipley, and Coventry investigated how to best display scientifically derived information to non-scientists.  Their findings are relevant to designers who are presenting results of research projects they’ve conducted, for example.  The Harold team suggests that people developing science-related graphics “Direct viewers’ visual attention to visual features of the graphic that support inferences about the data; Include only information for the intended purpose of the graphic; Break down the graphic into visual ‘chunks’, each of which should contain enough information for the intended task or message; Identify the most important relationships in the data that are to be communicated; Consider different ways of structuring the data that enable the viewer to quickly identify these relationships; Use text to help direct viewers’ understanding of the graphic, for example by providing key knowledge needed to interpret the graphic.” The study by Harold and colleagues is published in Nature Climate Change.

“New Guidelines Aim to Improve Understanding of Scientific Data.”  2016.  Press release, University of East Anglia, http://www.uea.ac.uk/about/-/new-guidelines-aim-to-improve-understanding...

Researchers at NYU’s Langone Medical Center have published research in Nature Neuroscience detailing how information collected via other senses influences our interpretations of what we hear.  The team learned that “The brain’s interpretation of sound is influenced by cues from other senses. . . .’What the brain ‘hears’ depends on what is ‘seen’ in addition to specific sounds, as the brain calculates how to respond,’ says study senior investigator and neuroscientist Robert Froemke, PhD, an assistant professor at NYU Langone and its Skirball Institute of Biomolecular Medicine. . . .  ‘Our study shows how the same sound can mean different things inside the brain depending on the situation,’ says Froemke. ‘We know, for instance, that people learn to respond without alarm to the honk of a car horn if heard from the safety of their homes, but are startled to hear the same honk while crossing a busy street.’”  This finding may help design researchers better understand apparently conflicting information that they gather during project-specific studies, related to, for example, challenges faced when trying to concentrate in a particular workplace.

“Making Sense of the Senses:  ‘Context’ Matters When the Brain Interprets Sounds.”  2016.  Press release, NYU Langone Medical Center, http://nyulangone.org/press-releases/making-sense-of-the-senses-context-matters-when-the-brain-interprets-sounds

Otten and her team have learned more about how our eyes work; their findings have implications for the design of visual experiences.  The researchers report that “Vision in the fovea, the center of the visual field, is much more accurate and detailed than vision in the periphery.”  When the experimenters had participants in their study look at “the center of a visual display in which central stimuli differed from peripheral stimuli. Over time, participants perceived that the peripheral stimuli changed to match the central stimuli, so that the display seemed uniform. . . . a wide range of visual features, including shape, orientation, motion, luminance, pattern, and identity, are susceptible to this uniformity illusion.”  So, over time, whatever is being seen peripherally changes to align with what is visible through the center of the field of view – more evidence that seeing is not as objective an experience as it might have seemed.  These findings indicate that if it’s necessary to send behavior cues or supply information, for example, regarding actions to be taken during emergency situations, that material needs to be presented in the center of users’ fields of view.

Marte Otten, Yair Pinto, Chris Paffen, Anil Seth, and Ryota Kanai.  “The Uniformity Illusion:  Central Stimuli Can Determine Peripheral Perception.”  Psychological Science, in press.

People speaking the same language perceive odors in similar ways when the names of scents smelled are known.  Ferdenzi and team found that when people from different cultures who speak the same language smell scents without knowing their names, individuals from different cultures may vary subtly in how pleasant, familiar, and edible sniffed smells are perceived to be.  However, after odors are named, cultural differences in perceived pleasantness, familiarity, and edibility are reduced or eliminated as ratings on all three factors increase, “Semantic information had a unifying action on olfactory perception that overrode the influence of cultural background.”  In short, researchers found that our spoken and physiological responses to/evaluations of scents are influenced by knowing what a scent is. As a result, when scents are used for branding, for example, space/object users should be told their names to ensure that they are appraised consistently by all present.  Scents presented to study participants were anise, lavender, maple, wintergreen, rose, and strawberry.

Camille Ferdenzi, Pauline Joussain, Berengere Digard, Lucie Luneau, Jelena Djordjevic, and Moustafa Bensafi.  “Individual Differences in Verbal and Non-Verbal Affective Responses to Smells:  Influence of Odor Label Across Cultures.”  Chemical Senses, in press.

In her dissertation research at University College London, Leadon studied collaboration in workplaces.  She found via a “case study at an interior design office followed by a survey of four design firms. . . . that collaboration and individual work must be supported by workplace design. While collaboration was high among employees and meeting rooms were utilized. . . . fluidity and frequency of collaboration was, at times, deterred in the open office environment, due to the expectation that collaboration would be a distraction to others. . . . Private meeting rooms were integral solutions in facilitating both collaborative and individual modes of work, as these spaces could host groups or individuals as required.”

Alexandria Leadon.  2015.  “Workplace Design:  Facilitating Collaborative and Individual Work Within the Creative Office Environment.”  Dissertation Abstract, The Florida State University, http://search.proquest.com/docview/1725171451.

A recent Kellogg Insights podcast reviews our relationship with technology, particularly robots.  Comments made by Adam Waytz, a professor at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University are particularly interesting: “Human beings really like autonomy. We like having free choice, we like having agency, we like having control, we like freedom and liberty. We feel that when we give tasks to robots, or when we create humanoid technology, that that technology will usurp our agency and diminish our autonomy, and diminish our freedom. . . . When you give something a humanlike voice, what we found was that that triggered perceptions in our participants that, ‘Oh, this car is smart. It can feel the road. It can plan where I need to go. It has a mind like a human.’ What we found, and we showed this statistically as well, is that when you give the car a little bit of humanness in terms of voice and name, it increases the perceptions of the car as having a humanlike mind, being intelligent, and those ascriptions of intelligence then produce greater overall trust.”

“Podcast:  You Had Me at ‘Bleep Blorp.”  2016.  Kellogg Insights. http://insight.kellogg.northwestern.edu/article/you-had-me-at-bleep-blor...

Drawing Futures teaches us that drawing still matters.  As reported in Allen, Pearson, Sheil, and Migayrou’s edited volume, “Despite numerous developments in technological manufacture and computational design that provide new grounds for designers, the act of drawing still plays a central role as a vehicle for speculation. . . . Drawing Futures will present a compendium of projects, writings and interviews that critically reassess the act of drawing and where its future may lie. . . . Drawing Futures focuses on the discussion of how the field of drawing may expand synchronously alongside technological and computational developments. . . . the book discusses how drawing is changing in relation to new technologies for the production and dissemination of ideas. . . . It explores new relationships with art and other disciplines, offers alternative – often subversive – looks at computational resources and ultimately . . . the aim of Drawing Futures is to illustrate how drawing works as an abundantly rich, diverse, inventive, critical and serious research domain.” Drawing Futures can be downloaded free at the web address noted below.

Laura Allen, Luke Pearson, Bob Sheil, and Frederic Migayrou (eds.).  2016.  Drawing Futures:  Speculations in Contemporary Drawing for Art and Architecture.  University College:  London, https://www.ucl.ac.uk/ucl-press/browse-books/drawing-futures?utm_source=...

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