Author ORCID Identifier

Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Fine Arts


Interior Design

First Advisor

Roberto Ventura

Second Advisor

Emily Smith

Third Advisor

Christiana Lafazani


MOTIVATION Mindfulness is the active pursuit of focused attention, and through practice has been shown to benefit psychological and physical well-being. While mindfulness is not a new idea, it has only tangentially been linked to Interior Design such as through performative objects (Niedderer, 2007 and 2014) which promote personal reflection before enacting a choice. If mindfulness is the active pursuit of mental presence, then Attention Restoration Theory (ART) is a passive route by which environmental cues imbue a resurgence in attention capacity (Kaplan, 2001). ART studies exemplified successful restoration through scenes of nature, and unsuccessfully in outdoor urban scenes (Berto, 2005) while interior environments went unexamined. Encouraging mindfulness and ART through interior design is worth exploring as it converges from the studies of Niedderer, Kaplan, and Berto.

PROBLEM How can mindfulness be supported by, or achieved through interior design, and what design principle(s) align with the practice of mindfulness? How can interior spaces and artifacts facilitate ART to passively or unconsciously support mindfulness in a residence?

METHODS Evaluations of mindfulness and ART case studies as related to design, and environmental interpretation will inform associative aspects to understand and employ relevant design elements.

RESULTS People prefer different spaces in which to experience mindfulness where the variety of colors, sound levels, lighting, privacy, smells, and textures affect them to be attuned. Based on an site interview, the designer is informed on specific interaction styles, design attributes, and solutions to pursue. Questions prompting personal reflection will lead to a personalized design which was determined to be an important psychological tool to achieving mindfulness. The use of warm and cool colors were found to be more intriguing than achromatic settings. Placing design artifacts in the space which encouraged or even required interaction from the client were found to encourage their mental presence in the moment as well. Views to outdoor, natural scenery from the space or at a minimum objects that represent nature add to the presence of mind and attention restoration. The designer educates the client on the impact of pertinent design principles such as light, color, scale, balance, texture, and harmony to obtain design by-in.

REFLECTIONS/CONCLUSIONS Creating a mental and physical connection for the client to the space is essential to achieving mindfulness through interior design. Mindfulness and Attention Restoration Theory augment each other from different psychological and physiological positions when the client is actively and passively engaged with their surroundings; linking the two through interior environments is key. A designed residential space that reflects the inhabitant’s interactive tendencies, prompts exploration, requires choice, and arouses intrigue will promote mindfulness, and attention restoration. Incorporating textured surfaces, natural materials, interactive objects, and purposeful views are important design goals.

1. Niedderer, K. (2007). Designing Mindful Interaction: The Category of Performative Object. Design Issues, 23(1), 3-17. DOI: 10.1162/desi.2007.23.1.3 2. Niedderer, K. (2014). “Mediating Mindful Social Interactions Through Design.” The Wiley Blackwell Handbook of Mindfulness. Ie, A. (Ed.). Chichester, UK: John Wiley & Sons. 345-366. DOI: 10.1002/9781118294895 3. Kaplan, S. (2001). Meditation, Restoration, and the Management of Mental Fatigue. Environment and Behavior, 33(4), 480-506. DOI: 10.1177/00139160121973106 4. Berto, R. (2005). Exposure to restorative environments helps restore attentional capacity. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 25(3), 249-259.


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