Ever since the infamous experiments of John Calhoun which studied the effects of space and environment on rats, it’s been acknowledged that poor surroundings can have a negative effect on a community. What’s been less explored is the impact of environmental specifics on the individual. Recent experiments in street design aimed at reducing crime and suicide, however, have yielded some interesting results. Urban designers in Tokyo and Scotland have placed blue streetlights in crime-heavy areas, theorizing that the blue would have a calming effect upon citizens. To the amazement of those who deny that things like design can have any real impact upon our psyches, the experiments worked incredibly well. Similar schemes have now been rolled out along railroad lines, with the result that suicide rates have dropped. On a related note, some prisons and police stations have had a pink makeover, because it has been discovered that the color pink has a calming effect upon prisoners. While it may not be particularly comfortable to admit that we can be so profoundly influenced by something as simple as a color, these initiatives do nicely demonstrate the fact that things like interior design really can affect the way in which we feel and act.
By Stephanie Henley, Beasley & Henley Interior Design