${ searchTerm }
${ searchTermSuggestion }

No product results found.

Popular Searches
  • logo
  • logo
There are no items in your cart
  • logo
  • Items (${ cartItemsCount })
    ${ subTotal }
    Select country

    our guess is, you're located in

    We sat down with an expert—Susan Magsamen, a long-time collaborator and friend of Muuto. She is the executive director of the International Arts + Mind Lab at Johns Hopkins University and co-director of the NeuroArts Blueprint, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and the creator of Impact Thinking, an interdisciplinary research model that combines the arts, science and health.

    Susan Magsamen
    susan magsamen

    Catching up with Susan, we discussed the many ways we can be mindful about our home, and how to incorporate impactful elements such as color, light and tactility to create spaces that feel good to body and mind.

    Muuto: First things first: what are neuroaesthetics?

    Susan: Well, my research centers on the human experience of aesthetics – a field adequately dubbed neuroaesthetics – examining the impact of architecture, art and design on our behavior and being.

    These days, it is informing how we can go about designing more intentional interiors, how we can use elements known to us in novel or different ways, and create spaces that promote a sense of well being. I think we can get closer to understanding those principles and the way they work by marrying science and the arts together.

    Muuto: Research has shown that certain elements affect us on a more general level, they are universally appealing. We know something about the effect of, let’s say, color and tactility, on us. How can we use these to our advantage?

    Susan: Anjan Chatterjee of University of Pennsylvania and Oshin Vartanian at University of Toronto demonstrated that there are neuroaesthetic elements we can lean on to create holistic experiences of space and architecture – the way i.e. color, light or material can be combined in order to create a uniform belief around or experience of a room. Artists, architects, craftsmen, designers and other professionals can rely on these to put together to create something elevated, in order to serve a purpose or solve a problem.

    Muuto: Light is seen as one of the most effectful elements to work with when designing intentional spaces, profoundly affecting body and mind.

    Susan: We know that sunrises and sunsets affect us profoundly, and that there are certain hues throughout the day or even the year that greatly influence body and mind. Bringing our natural landscapes inside helps stay in tune with our physiological day and ultimately, stay in sync.

    For instance, if you want to promote a stimulating learning environment, you might consider ways to introduce elements shown to improve focus like more exposure to daylight. An abundance of natural light keeps us in tune with our circadian rhythms, with the benefit of heightening our focus and learning in a space.

    Muuto: We know that looking at nature lowers our cortisol levels, and it is still the natural environment that we feel the most profoundly calm in. How can we go about introducing more natural elements in our interiors?

    Susan: We create spaces and think these are the most important, but the reality is, in many ways, that we still find ourselves most authentically in nature. Acknowledging that we are deeply connected and wired to the rhythm of nature, many human-built environments are starting to bring in biophilic elements.

    To generate a feeling of healing and restorative quality, try to incorporate greenery as well as other natural elements and materials into the built environment. This could be a piece of furniture in warm oak wood, the use of earth tones, cut flowers, or artificial light that mimics the quality of daylight.

    Muuto: Research has shown that the smooth curves, like those of modernist sculptor Jean Arp’s works, produce a pleasant sensation in the beholder. Apparently, we prefer rounded shapes to sharp angles - why? And how does this knowledge help us create more engaging environments?

    Susan: We naturally gravitate towards certain shapes, in particular smooth, rounded curves like the shape of a cup, because our hands have shaped it and they can embrace it, hold it. We have so many millions of synapses and nerves in our hands that connect to our brain and what feels intuitively right. Honoring these physiologies is really when I think design gets better. When we disregard them, it's also an aesthetic experience - everything's aesthetic. But I think there's a difference between what really moves you – peak aesthetic experiences – and things that are simply utilitarian.

    Muuto: Combining this idea with a strong focus on tactility allows one to create compelling atmospheres and spaces. How does stimulating the sense of touch create a deeper connection to a space or object?

    Susan: Of course, we not only perceive the world visually, but also sensorily, among others through touch. Tactility, or the haptic experience, is an essential part of the neuroaesthetic perception of an object or space. Through our hands, we can feel the essence of an object, deciphering its materiality and how it was made – knowing through our hands.

    Our skin is the biggest organ on our body and it's so responsive. So you cannot underestimate what texture does. We are not only about what something looks like. You might be drawn to a certain kind of texture, and how it feels when you are engaging with it is incredibly powerful. It is much more powerful than seeing it.

    featured products

    more readings



    Part of the MillerKnoll Collective