What is Neuroaesthetics?
Neuroaesthetics is a translational field that studies the effect of environments, atmospheres, and aesthetic experiences on the brain and body. The collective work of neuroscientists, architects, artists, designers, psychologists, cognitive scientists, data scientists, and philosophers, it brings together multiple disciplines to provide a holistic framework to synthesize multidisciplinary information on how we experience and design our world.
As a research initiative in our practice, Neuroaesthetics underpins our approach to all our projects. We illustrated the importance of this new field in A Space For Being, an installation we designed with Google, Muuto, and the International Arts + Mind Lab at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. For this installation, we designed three different atmospheres—in three different rooms with the same function—and we measured visitors’ bodily reactions to the spaces, showing that design has a physical effect on us.
In the healthcare space, neuroaesthetics underpinned our design for a prototypical hospital room for children suffering from disorders of consciousness, creating a "spatial prescription" that doctors can manipulate along with the medical protocol to foster quicker patient recoveries.
Neuroaesthetics also guides our design for the RISE CENTER at Johns Hopkins Hospital, the first multimedia center of its kind to offer physical and digital experiences to reduce clinician burnout, a problem that has only become more dire after the Covid-19 pandemic.
Currently, we are at work on an initiative to understand designing for neurodiversity through the lens of neuroaesthetics.
Through our mantra "Form Follows Feeling" we bring a neuroaesthetic focus into our residential practice, looking to create intimate space that allows us to thrive, calibrated carefully to the individual and the site. Whether it is creativity, rest, comfort, or belonging that we want to foster in the project, our design approach uses thoughtful cues, derived from neuroaesthetics.
In our public installations and artworks, we look to create experiences of connectivity, wonder, and discovery to emphasize the importance of human empowerment, empathy, and agency. We use neuroaesthetics in this framework to trigger engagement.