insights on creating innovative spaces

Stressed out? Maybe Your Walls Are to Blame.

A cloud mural adds a natural touch at a plastic surgeon’s office

You’re at home, and you just want to relax. Or maybe you’re spending more time than you’d like in the office, and you’re feeling like you can’t catch a break. In either case, your environment can make a huge difference in how smoothly your day goes. And art might play a bigger part than you’d guess.

I recently attended a helpful panel called “The Intersection of Art & Design in Healthcare,” led by two art consultants and a researcher who studies the effects of art on the patients and staff at medical offices. Naturally, the old, stereotypical hospital art came up: framed posters, amateurish animals graphics in pediatric wards and the like.

The idea used to be, “There’s a wall – can’t leave it blank, so better put something up.” The result was rarely polished or thought out. Unfortunately, the same can be true for many corporate offices and even some homes.

A pulmonary/pain specialist’s office uses visual effects to open the space

However, a decision as seemingly simple as wall décor can have a tangible impact on stress, emotions and healing, as the researcher at the panel pointed out. When hospitals selected pieces with challenging or abstract pieces such as the styles of Vincent van Gogh and Jackson Pollock, patients noted increased anxiety and agitation. Nature themes with soothing color palettes appeared more calming, however, and when hospital delivery rooms used those types of pieces, the average delivery time decreased by 2.1 hours.

We’re in a high-tension world, and New Yorkers know that as much as anyone. Our surroundings impact our anxiety level, our productivity and our overall mental and physical wellbeing.

My suggestion is to decorate in a way that helps bring the outside in. A nature-based painting, mosaic, sculpture or participatory piece (with moving parts to grab infants’ attention) can make the difference between soothed and stressed. Nature, after all, can be our best healer. Incorporating calming music can take a carefully thought-out design even farther.

If you’d like advice about choosing the right art for your home or office, feel free to call me anytime. With just a quick consultation, I’ll help you start making the most of your space – and hopefully reducing your stress in the meantime.