Archive for the ‘Research’ Category

Research Bureau

Mind map of Research Bureau course

During the first semester, we had a course called Research Bureau, which consisted in a series of lessons with special guest to help us understand better what art and design research is. Among the guests, we had artists and professors that were giving us examples from their own research.

Three courses helped me to gain new knowledge for my research. These were Documents and Archives, Ethics and Research Organization. The rest of the courses were uninformative for my subject. It was fruitful for me to participate at the other lessons as well to see examples of Practice-Led Research, Research-Led Practice in the Creative Arts.

Documents and Archives

During this lesson, Professor Paul Colwell presented us his work Morandi’s Legacy: Influences of British Art. By his examples, he gave us a list of archives that we can use:

×         Library search

×         Museums or Collection search

×         Travel as search method

×         Case studies

×         Interviews

×         Writings

×         Studio practice

×         Curatorial Practice

×         Dissemination as embedded within research

It was interesting to see how different mediums can help you with your research. He went deep into the case study and he travelled to the sites where Morandi painted. Sometimes if necessary, a researcher has to travel if it helps him with his research. An interesting point he made was to search for the most quoted books in our field.

His work was very well structured and I could understand easily his methods. Although, interesting and I learned some new information it was still a studio practice research and not applicable to my work. I realized that if the course had had a guest that made research in design would have helped me understand better how I can construct my methods.


In this lesson, we had as guest Professor Stephen Scrivener. He was very clear about the origins and principles of research ethics and he gave us a few examples from psychology. Most of them were outdated but I understood that he wanted to point out why ethics is so important when we work with people and how we should not call the people who are our interlocutors or interviewees, subjects as once in psychology experiments. He pointed out some mistakes we can do in interviews.

I believe this was an important lesson as during our research we have to know about the rules of the Research Ethics Committee before we plan our methods.

     Continuing my master course, I realized that we only had that one lesson in ethics and I personally could have use more. As research methods, we will only have three lessons about interviews within the Arts Educated Seminar course with Dr Linda Sandino. For my study project, I need more research methods courses. This is lacking for me within the MRes course but as I understood, the artists have to tailor their methods so for the rest of the class a course on research methods would not be necessary.

Research Organization

Professor Oriana Baddeley presented us ways to “couture” our methodology. She told us about the importance of knowing the critical debate in the field. For this, of course we have to be up to date with all relevant articles in our field of inquiry. She exemplified by her own work when studying Latin America when she needed to read a book related to Arab culture to help her understand better the native point of view of a non English writer and how he treats the subject.

I followed with interest the other lessons, which I am not presenting, as they were arts and performance related. Again, I am stating that although uninformative for my project it was interesting to see different research in art and the different ways in which each research finds its path.


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My research

Mind Map My Research

 I am currently attending the MRes Arts Practice course at Chelsea College of Art and Design under the supervision of the Dr. Paul Ryan and Dr. Malcolm Quinn.

This course offers me the opportunity to develop a major individual research project. Initially I wanted to study how interior design can influence the productivity within an office environment. During my reading sessions in Design Psychology and Environmental Psychology, I realized a neglected part, which was the prison environment. I did not found studies about Youth Detention Centers in the literature of these two fields. I became curious why this subject was neglected. One of the reasons could be that these informations are restricted to the public; still in medical journals researchers can publish the findings they make.

One of the problems of our society is the failure of the prison system; therefore, I decided to investigate further.

Following, I post My Research Proposal.

A Methodological analysis of Environmental Psychology approaches to Institutions for Young Offenders

Research Interest

This research would investigate the effects of the environment on the moods, feelings and behaviors in Youth Detention Centers, more specifically which factors can help with the rehabilitation process or can be a trigger for violent behavior. The overall aim of the research is to study the approaches of the field Environmental Psychology in planning a Youth Detention Center. Environmental Psychology is the study of human behaviors in relation to their environments and vice versa (Kopek, 2006). This study will argue the need for research that establishes scientifically grounded guidelines to help interior designers plan better these environments.

As there are few studies done hitherto in this area, my aim is to try to find the tools for predesign research (PDR) in particular the needs assessments within similar environments; for example the Pediatrics Department within hospital design where children are confined for long periods of time.

My BA in Interior Design, BA in Psychology and the MRes course alerted me to the lack of knowledge in this field.

As Roger S. Ulrich said: …the amount of scientific research to date on psychologically supportive health design is limited, and studies still need to be done on many important issues. For many design questions, there is no sound research yet available (Ulrich, 1991).

Various factors are important; I will give some short examples of relevant discoveries that show how these factors can have an influence on youth. For example, visual stimulants in rooms intended for children are often designed to facilitate learning or play (Kopek, 2006); incidence of child abuse increased significantly, when residential density exceeded 1.5 persons per room (Zuravin, 1986 cited in Kopek, 2006, p.148); reducing visual boundaries by using more windows effectively prevents behavioral problems (Kopek, 2006) compared to Zero Tolerance policies that don’t reduce bullying effectively because they increase the negative feeling (Crawford, 2002 cited in Kopek, 2006, p.199). Visual monotony experienced over a prolonged period, frequently results in physiological and emotion stress, causing anxiety, tension, fear, and psychological ill health (Holahan, 1972). The role of nature in Prison environment is another aspect that I want to research. Views of most natural settings will have stress-reducing influences, whereas views of urban or built settings will tend to impede recuperation, especially if they lack nature content such as vegetation and water (Ulrich 1991).

According to a large-scale study led by Oxford University in 2008, there is a high prevalence of mental illness among incarcerated youth.

 Historical Context

The oldest experiments that have related behavior and environment are within the field of psychology. Psychologists in the 19th Century studied the effects of environmental perception related to light, color, sound and ventilation on behavior primarily within an industrial or school environment. Later, Florian Stefanescu-Goanga in 1911 in Leipzig under the supervision of Wilhelm Wundt studying the emotional color tone which he divided it into excitatory and soothing. Hugo Münsterberg a German-American psychologist asked under what psychological conditions an employer can secure the highest quality output of work by looking at the effects of changing the workspace environment.

Many consider Egon Brunswik the founder of environmental psychology. He first used this term in 1943 to describe the field of human-environment relationship. As an interdisciplinary field, many researchers contributed to environmental psychology e.g.Kurt Lewin (1943) a behavioral geographer and urban sociologist and Roger Baker (1947) an ecological psychologist. Abraham Maslow an American Psychologist; conducted a study in 1956 with photographs of people and found that observers responded more positively to the people photographed when the observers were in well designed rooms and more negatively when the observers were in poorly designed rooms.

 Contemporary Context

Professor Hillary Dalke’s The Colour Design Guide for the National Offender Management Service is a pioneering. It changes the standards for refurbishments in prison environment changing the colour palette and bringing novelty like the use of visuals like paintings in specific areas. Visuals are important in a Youth Detention Center as they stimulate the imagination of children and support their creative play.

Dr. Alan Dilani founded the International Academy for Design and Health (IADH) and published in 2008 the study A Health Promoting Prison Design that reviews literature of approximately 300 articles and other literature, with relevant connection to the physical environment, health, and behavior.


During the predesign research (PDR) phase, when compiling the needs assessments a perception survey will be conducted to measure variables using a structured questionnaire. Measurements will use Likert Scale. In addition, interviews of the employees will also be conducted at selected Youth Detention Centre to solicit views from selected respondents especially the ones that spend most of the time with the children. These questionnaires will be developed during my PhD studies. Other data will be gathered from the scientific experiments conducted within hospital design. I will then conduct a small-scale study that will involve the redecoration of an important space for all inhabitants for example the recreation room within a Youth Detention Center. I will evaluate one or two factors like bullying cases or social interaction comparing the data prior with the Post-Occupancy Evaluation (POE). Even though it is a small-scale study, the results are intended to raise the possibility that some factors can have either a rehabilitative or an unhealthful effect. This study will argue the need for research that establishes scientifically grounded guidelines to help interior designers plan better this environments.

Ethical Dimensions of the research 

I will submit any ethical issues to the University’s Ethics Committees, and I will abide by their guidelines and decisions in every respect.

 Work Plan

  • Year one: research training, literature review, to help refine research question. Piloting the tools to be used.
  • Year two: Development of research techniques. Ethics Committee and Home Office procedures for approval. Main empirical phase.
  • Year three: Analysis, supplementary literature review. Completing writing up.


Main Study List and Bibliography

Augustin, S. (2009). Place Advantage: Applied Psychology for Interior Architecture.

New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons

Bechtel, R., Churchman, A., eds. (2002). Handbook of Environmental Psychology. Wiley

Bell, P., Greene, T. C., Fishbein, J. D., & Baum, A. (2001). Environmental Psychology (5th Ed.). Harcourt College Publishers

Dalke, H., Littlefair, P. J., & Loe, D. J. (2004). Lighting and Colour for Hospital Design. Funded by NHS Estates. London: The Stationary Office

Dalke, H., HOME OFFICE, The Prison Service (2007). The Colour Design Guide for the    National Offender Management Service. [Internet]. Available from:


[Accessed 10 February 2012]

David, D. (2010). Florian Ştefănescu-Goangă – Omagiu. [Internet]. Available from <http://danieldavidubb.wordpress.com/2010/10/26/florian-stefanescu-goanga-omagiu/&gt;

[Accessed 21 February 2012]

Dilani, A. (2008). Psychosocially Supportive Design: A Health Promoting Approach on Prison Environments. [Internet]. Available from:


[Accessed 10 December 2011]

Fairweather, L., & McConville, S. (2000). Prison architecture: policy, design and experience.

Boston: Architecture Press

Holahan, C. (1972). Seating Patterns and Patient Behaviour in an Experimental Dayroom.  Journal of Abnormal Psychology. [Internet]. vol. 80, no 2, 115-124. Available from:

< http://psycnet.apa.org/journals/abn/80/2/115/>  [Accessed 20 February 2012]

Israel, T. (2003). Some Place Like Home: Using Design Psychology to Create Ideal Places.

John Wiley & Sons

Kopek, D. (2006). Environmental Psychology for Design. Fairchild Publications

Mahnke, F.H. (1996). Color Environment, & Human Response: An Interdisciplinary Understanding of Color and its Use as a Beneficial Element in the Design of the Architectural Environment. Canada: John Wiley&Sons

Maslow, A., Mintz, N. (1956). Effects of aesthetic surroundings: Initial effects of three aesthetic conditions upon perceiving “energy” and “well-being” in faces. Journal of Psychology, 41, 247-254

Ulrich, R. (1986).  Effects of Hospital Environments on Patient Well-Being. Research Report from Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Medicine, Vol. 9, No. 55.

Ulrich, R. S. (1992). Effects of Interior Design on Wellness: Theory and Recent Scientific Research. [Internet]. Vol. 3, pp. 97-109. Available from: <http://www.majorhospitalfoundation.org/pdfs/Effects%20of%20Interior%20Design%20on%20Wellness.pdf > [Accessed 15 February 2012]

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