Intuitive Design: Reduce Stress, Anxiety and Fear

 In Healthy Offices, Interior Design, Office Design, Workspaces

Wayfinding is a term used in design to describe the ability of a visitor to easily, and often intuitively, navigate a space. Good wayfinding improves overall comfort and promotes a reduction in stress, anxiety and fear.This is enormously beneficial, especially in health care or healing environments, where studies have shown these emotions to hinder the body’s ability to thrive and heal. (Passini and Arthur)

Wayfinding, traditionally is improved with signage, maps, and personal directions. While we do work with property owners to determine the the best locations for these items, there are other other effective methods, for improving wayfinding. Did you know that visual cues such as; colour, texture, lighting, and placement of architectural features can guide visitors intuitively and safely through the your space? Changes in wall colour and material, as well as strategic placement of artwork, can create landmarks for navigation and make an expansive space or long corridor less intimidating.

Contrast between colours and materials can also make changes in floor levels much safer. Stairs for example, should always utilize contrasting colours for the rise and tread. This ensures that steps are visible and helps to prevent falls.

Lighting, also has an amazing ability to affect movement. Research has shown that humans prefer to follow the most illuminated path. Interestingly when given identical paths into a space (one going to the right and one to the left), 69% of people instinctively go to the right. However, when the path to the left is given a higher level of illumination, 75% of people chose to travel the path to their left instead (Ginthner) The possibilities for using visual cues, to creating safer and more comfortable spaces, are endless. Want more information on how intuitive Wayfinding can be incorporated in your design? Contact Niche for design today!


Passini R., and Arthur P. 1992. Wayfinding: People, signs and architecture. New York: McGraw-Hill Inc.

Ginthner P. Implications. Vol. 02, Issue 02.