Research Design Connections

Lighting Art (12-28-27)

Pridmore makes recommendations for lighting paintings.  He suggests that “Major factors to be considered when designing lighting for paintings include colour discrimination, colour diversity, clarity and the balance of cool-warm (bluish-yellowish) lighting. . . . High correlated colour temperature . . . appear bluish. . . . low correlated colour temperature illuminants . . . appear yellowish. . . .

Learning More About Learning (12-27-17)

Weir reviews recent education-related research.  What she learned is relevant to the design of academic and professional spaces where people are trying to learn.  Weir reports that “Koedinger wondered if [intelligent tutoring] systems might be limited by the constraints of learning on a flat screen.  To explore that idea, his graduate student Nesra Yannier used depth camera technology and artificial intelligence vision to develop an intelligent tutoring system that watched 4- to 8-year-olds as they played a game that involved predicting and explaining what makes block towers fall on a simul

Situations and Wellbeing (12-22-17)

White and his team wanted to learn more about visits to nature and people’s impressions of their own wellbeing.  They share that “Focusing on urban/peri [near]-urban residents . . . from a nationally representative survey of the English population, we explored the relationships between . . . types of exposure . . . and . . . components of SWB [subjective wellbeing]. . . .

Designing So Adolescents Ride Bikes (12-21-17)

How can design encourage adolescents to ride bicycles?  Verhoeven and her team answered that question via an online survey during which adolescents (average age about 14) “were asked to indicate which of two situations they would prefer to cycle to a friend’s house. The manipulated photographs were all modified versions of one semi-urban street which differed in the following physical micro-environmental attributes (separation of cycle path, evenness of cycle path, speed limit, speed bump, traffic density, amount of vegetation and maintenance). . . .

Thermal Pleasure (12-20-17)

Parkinson and de Dear studied links between temperature and positive environmental experiences.  They report that “the experiments presented in this paper and the prequels in this series point to the importance of context, in the indoor setting and also the bodily state of the occupant, in determining whether a given thermal environmental variation will be” felt to be pleasurable or unpleasant.  Parkinson and de Dear share that “A pragmatic design solution to the . . . individual differences inherent in . . .

Cleanability and Mirrors (12-19-17)

Consider using readily cleanable materials and mirrors together.  Ackerman, Tybur, and Mortensen found that “pathogen cues [situations in which people were thinking about germs because of something they saw/heard/etc.] lead individuals chronically averse to germs to express greater concern about their own physical appearance. Correspondingly, these people exhibited behavioral intentions and decisions intended to conceal or improve their appearance.”

Undesirable, “Artificial” Art (12-18-17)

We prefer human-created to machine-generated art, except when we see robot artists at work. Chamberlain and her colleagues conducted several studies: “Study 1 tested observers’ ability to discriminate between computer-generated and man-made art, and then examined how categorization of art works impacted on perceived aesthetic value, revealing a bias against computer-generated art. In Study 2 this bias was reproduced in the context of robotic art; however, it was found to be reversed when observers were given the opportunity to see robotic artists in action.

Eating While Crowded (12-15-17)

Crowding is a subjective experience, in the same situation some people may feel crowded while others won’t.  When we do feel crowded, we eat differently than we do when we don’t.  Hock and Bagchi completed  “six studies showing that crowding increases calorie consumption.  These effects occur because crowding increases distraction, which hampers cognitive thinking and evokes more affective processing.  When consumers process information affectively [emotionally], they consumer more calories.”  When they feel crowded and are “given a choice between several different options, people select an

Lunchtime Park Walks and Relaxation Spaces: Good Ideas (12-14-17)

Having parks near workplaces where employees can walk for 15 minutes at lunchtime can be good for business—and so can creating an at-work space where people can do relaxation exercises.  A Sianola-lead team reports that “park walk . . . and relaxation . . . groups were asked to complete a 15-min exercise during their lunch break on 10 consecutive working days. Afternoon well-being. . . [was] assessed twice a week before, during, and after the intervention, altogether for 5 weeks. . . . park walks at lunchtime were related to better concentration and less fatigue in the afternoon. . . .


Research Conversations


2017 was a good year for people who value science-informed design.  Many studies published in 2017 deepen our understanding of how humans (and sometimes other species) experience the worlds around themselves.   In many cases, the newly published research allows theory to move into practice.


Cognitive-science based research has generated powerful insights into how children experience designed spaces and objects. Design that reflects how places and things are most likely to influence youngsters’ thoughts and behaviors can support their development and wellbeing.


Scientists have learned a lot about the design of fitness zones where extra pounds drop away, muscles build, and moods soar.   They’ve identified ways that design can get our hearts and limbs pumping and make it more likely that when we’re done exercising we view our sweat-sodden experiences positively.

Our location relative to sea level can have a tremendous effect on the ways our brains work and we act, even if we don’t get altitude sickness.  Designers creating spaces at higher elevations, or objects that will be used there, should know how altitude influences humans, so they can attempt to counter its potential negative consequences.

PlaceCoach News Briefs


Useful new resource for understanding designed spaces


Retail roundup reaches conclusions

More evidence that design affects stress

Different symmetry, different evaluations

Be careful when designing in play

Lighting's brightness and uniformity matter

Training influences assessments

Survey responses vary over time, regardless

Book Reviews


An introduction to crucial design-related considerations

Thoughtful insights for people designing for people

Design at Work


London’s Design Museum is a marvelous place to spend time and to learn about design's ability to influence our lives.