OREGON STATE UNIVERSITY

Rounded, curvy furniture puts people at ease

04/25/2011

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Ever notice how some rooms just feel cozier? The reason, researchers say, may lie in the shape of the furniture.

A new study comparing the impacts of different furniture on people’s emotions found that environments with curvy furniture evoked more positive emotions – such as feeling relaxed, happy, and hopeful – than did rectangular furniture.

Oregon State University researchers Sibel Dazkir and Marilyn Read’s study, which is available online and will later be printed in the journal Environment and Behavior, is designed to help guide interior designers and architects in creating more welcoming environments with the use of curvy or rounded lines.

More than 100 undergraduate students viewed four virtual room interiors in an online survey, and then provided ratings about how each one made them feel, both in terms of pleasure and approach (e.g. how social the room made them feel). Two of the rooms contained rounded furniture, while the other two rooms had rectangular furniture arranged the same way as the curved furniture rooms. The rooms were only viewable in gray-scale to avoid other influences such as color and texture.

“Most participants wanted to socialize in the curvilinear rooms more than the rectangular,” Dazkir said. “Curvy environments feel more pleasant because the shapes are more organic than sharp angles.”

The students found all of the rooms boring because of their simplicity, but rated the curvilinear rooms significantly higher in pleasure and approachability.

“Many commercial settings, like reception rooms that feel sterile, have rectangular forms,” Read said. “We want people to realize that simple changes, such as adding curvilinear form, in your home or office can make a big difference about how you feel in your environment.”

Respondents explained that rounded furniture looked more comfortable, interesting and calming compared to the rectangular furniture.

Dazkir, who conducted the research for her master’s thesis at OSU, is now pursuing a doctoral degree. She is researching cultural aspects of environments by studying the living rooms of people in her home country of Turkey. Read is an associate professor in the Department of Design and Human Environment at OSU and chair of Dazkir’s master’s and Ph.D. committees.

Dazkir hopes her thesis can become the foundation for future research on the influence of form, color and other physical characteristics of furniture and the environment.