I’ve been a professional fine artist for half my life. The aesthetics of my surroundings are as important to me as the quality of the air I breathe. A vast empty wall in my living space makes me feel as though I am in prison. I can make a case for the notion that kitsch is morally wrong.
But is this just about my personal quirks? Do the aesthetics of surroundings really matter enough that hospitals, rehab centers and doctor’s offices ought to be concerned about them?
It has been established that the environment of psychiatric hospitals plays a significant role in both patient and staff functioning. The recommendations read like a manual for holistic health–natural or full-spectrum light, access to nature, calming colors, comfortable furniture, and access to private spaces. Artwork (soothing, not exciting) is recommended.
So it would seem that the converse–bright or fluorescent lights, bare white walls, ‘highly reverberent spaces’ (a psychiatric hospital no-no), and windowless rooms might be stressful for patients and staff alike. When we are in stressful environments, our bodies produce stress hormones which inhibit immune functioning.