Have you ever heard of Sick Building Syndrome? it is a mysterious illness that became prevalent in female office workers in the 1970’s resulting from poorly designed office spaces devoid of colour with unnatural light, and poor ventilation. It became so prevalent in the US that The Environmental Protection Agency would later define it as a “situation in which building occupants experience acute health and comfort effects that appear to be linked to time spent in a building.
Statistics are a funny thing, but just 20 years earlier in the 1950’s, around 80% of the worlds population lived in rural areas and it has been predicted that by 2050 the situation will have been completely reversed, with 80% of the global population living in urban areas. So as landlords and property developers, the way we design our urban buildings and specify our interiors can have an impact on people’s physical and mental health, especially in urban areas that are devoid of nature.
There are a couple of designers I have been following, one is Ilse Crawford, who’s design philosophy centres around wellbeing, the other is Karen Haller, a colour expert who advises companies on branding and design and I have become increasingly aware of the impact colour and lighting has on an interior space.
One of the outstanding Co-Living Designers designers in the UK (in my opinion) is Stuart Scott, who has come up with his own Biophyllic (I hope I’ve spelled that right) design language, where he literally brings nature into his buildings. For this reason I think he has absolutely nailed the direction Good Design is moving into. This is echoed by both Ilse Crawford and Karen Heller. On the flip side, many property investors use Grey, or white which, if used on their own, will make an interior look unnatural and will therefore have a negative effect on the health and wellbeing of the occupant of that space. It also won’t really do anything to stir a buyer’s emotion when viewed or seen on advertising space.
Colour has a big impact on how we feel, it is the biggest factor when it comes to our buying decisions as it effects us on a subconscious, primal level. Studies have shown that when someone buys a product they buy on emotion, then logic, so when it comes to selling your property on Spareroom, a bland, colourless interior will have absolutely no effect on someones emotion, whereas a colourful interior will, quite literally jump out of the page. So while most property investors insist that using colour is wrong, any marketing expert will laugh at the advise and tell you it’s absurd and a doctor will tell you it will have a detrimental effect on your customers wellbeing.
So when you are planning your next refurb, development, HMO, Co-living space, consider the impact your colour choice will have on the living environment. A bland, colourless interior will depress your occupants, poor lighting will depress your occupants, whereas colour, natural elements and good lighting will have the opposite effect. it will stir emotion, flicking the buying decision switch instantly to on. It can give a sense of calm, it can relax and give comfort as well as excite the senses.
And if you are one of those landlords who feels that people just want a plain grey or white neutral space, be careful, it could literally make your customers sick.