Research Design Connections

Types of Co-Working Spaces (11-07-17)

Kojo and Nenonen analyzed co-working spaces near Finland’s capital and categorized them into groups based on “their main characteristics.”  The duo identified “six co-working space typologies . . . : public offices, third places, collaboration hubs, co-working hotels, incubators and shared studios. The categorization was made by using two axes: business model (for profit and non-profit) and level of user access (public, semi-private and private).”  The researchers feel their findings are useful because they “provide a viewpoint on how co-working spaces can be categorized. . . .

Genetics and Looking (11-06-17)

Kennedy and his team have found that how we look at something, literally, is influenced by our genes.  Designers can use what these researchers have learned to better understand curious research results, for example.  The Kennedy-lead group reports that “Where one looks within their environment constrains one’s visual experiences, directly affects cognitive, emotional, and social processing . . . influences learning opportunities . . . and ultimately shapes one’s developmental path.

Improving On-Trail Experiences (11-03-17)

Kohlhardt and team studied the optimal design of trails through parks.  They share that “Large crowds in parks can be a problem for park managers and visitors.  . . . We used . . . visual images . . . to estimate park users’ utilities [the benefits or values they perceive] associated with their visitor experience in Garibaldi Provincial Park in British Columbia, Canada. Our visual method allowed us to control for background view and compare user preferences on hiking trails with preferences at final destinations.

Workplace Rudeness (11-02-17)

It is important to design workplaces that reduce the likelihood of rude behavior, for more than the obvious reasons.  It is particularly important to smooth interactions that might occur during morning hours, for example as people arrive or get early cups of coffee.  The Woolum team found that if employees are relatively less confident and emotionally stable “a single exposure to [witnessed, i.e., visually observed] rudeness in the morning can contaminate employees’ perceptions of subsequent social interactions leading them to perceive greater workplace rudeness throughout their workday. .

Air Pollution Degrades Mental Health (10-31-17)

Research by Sass and her colleagues reveals that air pollution degrades the mental health of the people who experience it.  Their work indicates that, in areas with higher levels of air pollution, it is particularly important to develop public and other spaces that support positive psychological experiences.  The Sass team describes their research efforts in the United States:  “Using annual-average measures of air pollution in respondents' census blocks of residence we find that over the period 1999–2011 [fine] particulate matter 2.5 is significantly associated with increased psychological

London’s Design Museum

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

Interior spaces at the museum are flooded with natural light, so it would be hard to have a bad experience in the building—natural light’s ability to boost our mood and enhance our cognitive performance is well documented, and discussed in detail here.  


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.