Beautiful design can improve health | Mike Peterson and Linda Kafka

“Architects and designers have a greater ability to improve public health than medical professionals,” said Dr. Claudia Miller, Environmental Medicine, University of Texas.

Something is happening in our revered design industry. It’s an awakening of sort … and a validation.

Thirty-plus years ago, science and medicine began to study the effects of the built environment. How do we feel when closed up in a windowless room compared to how we feel when walking through the woods or strolling along a beach? When we see something we like and that we perceive to be attractive and beautiful, does it have an effect on our minds and bodies?

Science has now documented, through recently developed scanning and bio mapping abilities, that views of beauty and feelings of pleasure lower stress by lowering heart rate and blood pressure. Science suggests that design and architecture, by creating fine design perceived as “beautiful,” is considered an “alternative health resource.”

That may be quite a leap for some, but it isn’t for the medical industry and science, and we in the design industry need to become aware of what science knows — when design creates beauty, it improves health. It’s a game changer. It’s a validation of what we have intuitively believed for years. When our client walks into a finished project and says, “I love it here, I feel so good in this room,” it’s no longer intuition. Our work acts as a surrogate body for the individual, protecting, nourishing and reassuring. We now know we are improving her health.

It’s exciting to see how designers are beginning to embrace the science in design. We now see blogs on neuroaesthetics, biophilia, environmental psychology and more. We see symposiums and educational conferences devoted to educating our industry about the enhanced value proposition science is validating. When we create beauty, our industry improves health. It’s pretty simple.

We invite you to join Science in Design as we lead the awakening of our industry to its ability to not just create a pretty room, but to enhance life and improve the health of those within it.

This Op-Ed originally appeared in HAT’s November issue. Have an opinion you want to share? Email Anne Flynn Wear at

See also:

Related Posts