Science in Design to offer certification for designers
After a year of successful daylong summits across the United States and Canada, a seminar and showroom tour during the recent High Point Market and an upcoming event at Interwoven, Science in Design will launch a certification program for interior designers in October.
Science in Design is an educational firm focused on neuroaesthetics, or the convergence of design and science. “We want to help educate the home furnishings and design industry on their ability to improve the health of the consumer and homeowner. Science considers our industry an alternative health resource. We need to internalize what science knows and start believing in ourselves accordingly. Beauty, nature and fine design improve health. When our industry creates beauty, we improve health,” says Mike Peterson, president of Visionary Design Marketing and founder of Science in Design, which he co-leads with Linda Kafka, president of Livable Environment Inc.
Specifically, good design can lower heart rates, blood pressure and stress while inciting something called the galvanic skin response, which indicates arousal of the cells in the skin, Peterson says. “Because of scanning and bio-mapping and all the tools we have, we now know which part of the brain lights up,” he says. “And when we seek beauty, we now know that we get a burst of serotonin and oxytocin. They may seem like odd words inside of interior design, but they’re not going to be 10 years from now.”
The certification program
Interior designers interested in earning the new certification will take 25 sequential, hourlong online classes, or chapters, focusing on biophilia, color contrast and intensity, fractals and other topics related to the “evolutionary inheritance” that affects how humans recognize and respond to beauty and good design, Peterson says.
Final chapters in the certification program will be more practical, focused on how designers can incorporate what they’ve learned into their design work.
“The last portion of the program may be the most important: It’s how you implement the science,” Peterson says. “As a designer, you’ll learn: What questions do you ask clients? How do you market yourself? What words and language do you use?”
After completing the courses and successfully taking a test at the end of each one, designers will be certified in the field of Science in Design. “You will have learned from researchers from Johns Hopkins University, the University of Oregon, Boston Architectural College, the University of Athens in Greece — from major universities around the world,” Peterson says.
The certification is self-paced but must be finished within six months. The company hasn’t yet set a cost for the program, but Peterson says it will be “manageable,” so that solo designers and small firms, as well as larger enterprises, can afford it.
Last year, more than 500 people attended Science in Design Summits at major design centers and home furnishings shows in the United States and Canada. Attendees were the first to suggest the idea of a certification program, Peterson says.
Attendees of the upcoming Interwoven textiles fair who have not yet attended a Science in Design seminar can do so at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, May 23. During the event, to be held on the fifth floor of the Market Square Textile Tower in High Point, Peterson will touch on many of the topics addressed in-depth in the certification program.
Opportunities for producers, retailers
Together, the summits, seminars and new certification program are bringing the Science in Design concepts to interior designers, but Peterson and Kafka are hopeful that the entire home furnishings sector, including manufacturers and retailers, will begin to embrace the ideas and practices of neuroaesthetics, too.
Science in Design recently added Hooker Furnishings to a list of supporting partners that also includes 3M, Benjamin Moore, Phillips Collection, StonePeak Ceramics and Trio design firm.
“I want to say to manufacturers, ‘Are you listening to the science? If you were, you wouldn’t be building tables with all 90-degree angles — there’s no such thing in nature. That’s foreign. But those of you who are building furnishings with live edges, with natural grain wood — those things are natural to the human species,’” Peterson says. “There’s an opportunity to create furnishing for the home that will heal. And that’s a great distinguisher for a company. It’s a leadership opportunity.”
Similar opportunities await retailers that embrace the concepts of neuroaesthetics, both in the products they carry and the way they design their brick-and-mortar stores,” Peterson says.
“Researchers at the University of Washington have studied the natural environment in retail and have proven that retailers can charge up to 25% more for the same product if that product is being marketed and merchandised in an environment that comes across as very natural,” he says. “Suppose it’s not even 25%. Suppose it’s only 10% more, and you’ve got a million-dollar business. It’s not chump change. And (that premium) is only because of the way the product was presented: You walk into the store and, all of a sudden, you feel like you’re at home. Rather than being inundated with 60%-off sales, you walk into an environment that makes you feel comfortable, that relaxes you.”