A few words about Mr. David Fell’ study: For his experiment, the researcher set up two identical offices – one with a wood environment (furniture and blinds in a light colour – birch) and the other without (white furniture and blinds) – and then gave 120 students in succession a stressful mathematics test while they sat at the desk in one of the two rooms. During the three phases (mental preparation, test and recovery period) of the 40-minute test, devices continuously measured two sympathetic nervous system (SNS) activation indicators of the students, therefore of their stress: pulse rate and skin conductance.

The results revealed that the stress measured by activating the sympathetic nervous system was lower among students who took the test in the wood environment. Furthermore, stress was lower during all three phases of the experiment. “This study shows that the effects of wood in helping to reduce stress are similar to those, well documented, of exposure to a natural environment,” wrote the researcher. Based on the fact that prolonged and ongoing periods of stress affect a person’s psychological and physical health, he concluded that the visible presence of wood surfaces in an indoor environment is a health factor for occupants. For him, wood could therefore become an additional tool when seeking healthy interiors for buildings.

The results measured during Fell’s experiments and those he cites corroborate what people intuitively believe or feel about the virtues of wood indoors, particularly images of a calm and elegant environment conjured up at the sight of this material, as shown in other studies.  In one of these studies, people were asked to choose a company for which they would like to work, based on photographs of the reception areas of the companies in question. Some had a wood finish, others had none. Most often, people chose companies with a reception area with wood, and used qualifiers such as “energetic,” “innovative” and “comfortable” to explain their choice.

(Source: The many virtues of hardwoods)

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