Marshmallows Bowl

Have you ever noticed that lighting candles can suddenly set a romantic tone or the aromas of freshly baked bread makes you feel soft and warm inside and even hearing a simple Christmas jingle can change your mood (for some – this might be annoyance, for me – instant happiness!). It’s all in relation to the environment and the powerful influence it has on human behaviour.

I’m sure you’ve heard the term ‘ambience’ thrown around in the marketing realm before, but what exactly does this mean? Ambience can be referred to as the atmosphere of the physical environment. In a marketing sense, this can be defined as ‘the space which surrounds you when you consume a service’.

The physical environment is created from its ambient conditions which include temperature, colour, smell and sound, combined with spatial layout and functionality; signs, symbols, and decor. These elements make up a ‘package’ which consciously or subconsciously encourages you to positively experience the service.

“Architecture is not about the design of the building and nothing else, it is about the cultural setting and the ambience, the whole affair.” ~Michael Graves

The field of environmental psychology has long examined the influence of the physical environment on human behaviour, particularly around retail environments. Atmospheric architecture and ambient storytelling can play compelling roles in retail, however what I find most impressive and intriguing is the social and emotional impact or benefits that can be seen in the health industry.

We can all remember what it was like visiting a hospital as a child… I still have nightmares thinking about the dentist. Patients, particularly children entering a health centre are often afraid due to the unfamiliar and unfriendly settings (hospitals always seem to have – what could best be described as a clinical smell). By theming environments, perceptions can be changed, reducing stress whilst also encouraging healing. I’d definitely be watching this space in future and the impact environments will have in curing certain illnesses.

I love seeing spaces innovatively transformed through colours texture, music, scents and lighting, its where the magic happens. Sometimes it’s more subtle (marshmallows), however you might just suddenly catch yourself in a more positive mood…