Research Design Connections

Sun Still Effects Lives (11-30-17)

Monsivais and his colleagues learned that the timing of the natural light we experience during a day influences our behavior, even when we have ready access to artificial (electric, for example) light.  They report that “For humans living in urban areas, the modern daily life is very different from that of people who lived in ancient times, from which today’s societies evolved.  Mainly due to the availability of artificial lighting, modern humans have been able to modify their natural daily cycles. . . .

Gender-Inclusive Bathrooms Send Positive Messages (11-28-17)

Chaney and Sanchez studied responses to gender-inclusive bathrooms; best practices for designing these sorts of rest rooms have been receiving a lot of attention recently, for example here:  Chaney/Sanchez report that  “While gender-inclusive bathrooms serve a practical function of providing a safe public restroom for transgender individuals, they may also sig

Cues and Eating (11-27-17)

Environmental cues encourage us to eat in particular ways.  Joyner, Kim, and Gearhardt found that “In a cue-rich compared to neutral environment, (a) wanting [to eat was] greater whereas liking [of food] . . . remain[ed] the same, (b) feelings of hunger [were] greater, and (c) food consumption [was] greater.”  The cue-rich environment tested was designed to bring the experience of being in a fast food restaurant to mind: it “included . . . booths. . . . [and]  Menu boards with images . . . projected on large television screens.  . . .

Carbon Dioxide and Sleep (11-22-17)

Carbon dioxide levels in sleeping areas affect how well we sleep.  Mishra and colleagues conducted a related study: “Bedroom carbon dioxide level, temperature, and relative humidity were measured over 5 days, for two cases: open window or door (internal, bedroom door), and closed window and door. . . .  Average carbon dioxide level for the Open conditions was 717 ppm . . .and for Closed conditions was 1150 ppm. . . . Absolute humidity levels were similar for both conditions, while Open conditions were slightly cooler (mean = 19.7 degrees Celsius . .

Shared Gardens – A Good Thing (11-21-17)

Naomi Sachs recently presented data from her dissertation (completed at Texas A & M University) at the Children’s Outdoor Environments and Healthcare and Therapeutic Design Meeting of the American Society of Landscape Architects.  She reported on information gathered during her development of the Healthcare Garden Evaluation Toolkit (H-GET).   Sachs found via her “surveys of patients, visitors, and staff . . . that both groups (patients/visitors and staff) were not as opposed sharing a garden as had been hypothesized.


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.