Our first ever guest blog is from Lynne at Friends of Wilson who writes about how our fight or flight response affects our emotional response to interior design.
You can call her on 0141 334 2859 or find her on Twitter if you would like to know more about their products. You might also want to read her blog! Thanks Lynne!
Have you noticed how much noisier life gets in the summer?
On hot sunny days and balmy nights we open the windows and bring both the cool breeze and outside noise into our homes and workplaces.
If you live in the city like me, then sirens, sounds of neighbours’ barbeques, music and passing conversations all become part of your daily soundscape.
Also for me, it’s meant 4am wake up calls by squawking seagulls!
But why are we disturbed by certain sounds, even natural ones, like seagulls?
If we understand the fundamental reasons for our reactions to noise, can it help us design spaces that are more comfortable to be in?
You may think that we get used to certain noises over time – and so are no longer troubled by them.
But studies show that this isn’t the case. As Dylan Jones, Professor of Phycology at Cardiff University, explained on Radio 4’s recent programme The Search for the Perfect Office
Our Neanderthal past is expressing itself in our modern spaces:
Our sensory system is highly tuned. We respond to unwanted sound as a threat, activating our fight or flight response and putting us on high alert.
This reaction is so hard-wired that it doesn’t diminish over time.
A creaking floorboard in the night is likely to freak you out every time you hear it.
In a similar way, if an interior has a problem with unwanted sound at the outset, it’s not going to get better or go away.
But why is sound so often overlooked in the design of interiors?
As designers, we’re taught to focus on the visual aspects of a design. Beyond practicalities, how an interior scheme looks is key.
But what about how a place feels?
The ‘invisible’ benefits of good acoustics such as atmosphere and ambiance may be harder to quantify, but can be crucial to the success of a space.
We all know the effect sounds can have on us.
Whenever I hear the evocative chimes of the ice cream van that comes around our neighborhood today, I’m catapulted straight back to the same feeling of excitement it created in me as a kid.
Emotional responses to sound are often far stronger and more immediate than those associated with visual stimuli.
Which sounds remind you of a happy childhood memory? And which sudden noises give you a fright? In our house, every time the dog barks at the postman, I jump.
Design is about people. Responding to our practical and emotional needs means creating harmonious spaces that are in tune, not conflict, with our most natural selves – whether it’s a buzzy restaurant, formal boardroom, or stimulating work environment.
Lynne Wilson – Friends of Wilson