Impact of Interior Design on the Functionality of Highly Sensitive People


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This study will revolve around Highly Sensitive People (HSP) and how interior design can impact on their functionality in their environment. HSP have a distinct personality. They have a very sensitive nervous systems which causes that they can come across as shy and easily rattled. Emotionally, they feel and process more deeply and intensely than the ordinary person, especially in an environment which is demanding. Their surroundings play a major role on their mood and their reactions, as they feel easily overwhelmed. Without them realizing it, they allow stimulation to overpower their minds, and they don’t know how to shut it out. (, 2015)

The problem that occurs with HSP, is that they feel that they do not fit in, in society. Few people are familiar with the concept, and have no idea how to handle these people, and therefore just label them, which only makes the circumstances worse. 15% - 20% of the human population are HSP. From this percentage one can see that it is not a small number, and therefore spaces needs to be designed especially for HSP, as they are highly intelligent, creative and productive, when surrounded in a sufficient environment. Being highly sensitive is not a character flaw nor a disorder, it is an inherit trait.(, 2015)

HSP can be improved, by receiving counselling, where they learn how to deal with stimulation. As HSP cannot always keep up with the pace of the demanding society, it is well thought of that designing a work environment for them, creating a space where they can function and live out their talents, surrounded by an almost perfect like environment and people whom also inherited HSP. Throughout this research document, one will be able to see the more positive side as well as the more negative side of being an HSP.(, 2015)

  1. PROJECT BACKGROUND AND MOTIVATION The Author was interested in the topic of burnt-out people, as her mother was desperate to hold her, as well as others lives together, she pushed herself to the limit at work as well as at home until she broke down under the immense pressure of her daily routine. She started researching the topic, and came across the book: “The Highly Sensitive Person” by author, Elaine N. Aron. Ph.D. She was immediately intrigued by the topic. She talked to her sister, whom is an occupational therapist, whom encouraged her to do further research about the topic of Highly Sensitive People, and the effects that Interior Design have on these people, as they are very sensitive to their environment.
  1. AIMS AND OBJECTIVES It is essential that Highly Sensitive People find a job which is not in a chaotic environment, and where they will have the freedom and opportunity to work individually and not in groups, as they get overwhelmed easily, and where they can have time to refresh themselves when stressful times do affect them. When they have to take in too much information at one time, their energy levels will be worn-out before the end of the day is in sight, and this will effect their work performance negatively. (Schwanke, n.d.)

The aim and objectives for this proposal and research paper, is to do in depth research concerning highly sensitive people, neuroscience (why they have a sensitive nervous system) and the effects of Interior design on highly sensitive people, in order to design a work space for Highly Sensitive People, where they can perform at their best.

  1. STUDY DEFINED The research paper will consist of research gained from reading books, journals, blogs and articles focusing on Highly Sensitive People, why highly sensitive people have neural differences between them and less sensitive people, the effect which their environment have on their mood as well as their work performance and how a space can be created into a reality to benefit them emotionally and physically. Books will be read such as, The Highly Sensitive Person, by author Elaine. N. Aron, Ph.D.
  2. RESEARCH STATEMENT Highly Sensitive People: How interior design influence their work performance and emotional state, through focusing on neural and incorporating stimuli and sensory.
  3. RESEARCH SCOPE, LIMITATIONS AND CONSTRAINTS On the chosen topic, Highly Sensitive People, there are a large number of research done about this specific personality trait, which makes the topics’ scope extensive. Highly sensitive people has been test observed by and investigative study and came across the first evidence of neural differences between Highly Sensitive People and less sensitive people. Studies have mainly focused on the social effects of these characters, but the new study focusses on the different ways in how various people's brains react to stimuli. In general there have not been a lot of research done on how the brain's reactions may be different in highly sensitive people, until this study was discovered. The fact that there are not much information on this, might limit the goals of research paper.(Edwards, 2010)
  4. DESIGN SCOPE, LIMITATIONS AND CONSTRAINTS As various research have been done on Highly Sensitive People and how their environments should not over stimulating as they will not be able to perform in their work,(Schwanke, n.d.) and how their brains (neuroscience) react to stimuli and sensory, (Schwanke, n.d.) this creates a wide scope of how the workplace should be designed. As soon as thorough research had been done on how their brains react to certain colour, sound and lighting in their environment, the author will then also be able to know what to use in the design in order to keep these people in their comfort zone where they can thrive and make a success of their lives without feeling that they do not fit in, and that the pressure of life is getting to them.
  5. DEFINITION OF TERMS Highly Sensitive People: According to Elaine. N. Aron, Highly sensitive people are people who feel more deeply and are affected more by their environment because of their nervous system which is sensitive.(, 2015) Nervous systems: It is the system of nervous in a human which includes the brain.(Thinkmap, 2015) Neuroscience: it is the study of how the nervous system is developed and structured and what it does and why it does it.(Thinkmap, 2015)

Neural: linking to a nerve or a nervous system(, 2015) Stimuli: Something that suggests a specific purpose response in an organ.(Thinkmap, 2015) Sensory: Things that you can feel with your physical senses, focusing on sensation. (, 2015)


Edwards, L. (2010). Sensitive people may use their brain differently. [Blog] Available at: [Accessed 18 Mar. 2015]., (2015).Comfort Zone Blog –. [online] Available at: [Accessed 19 Mar. 2015].

Schwanke, C. (n.d.). Careers for Highly Sensitive People. [Blog]LoveToKnow. Available at: [Accessed 19 Mar. 2015]., (2015).neural. [online] Available at: [Accessed 16 Mar. 2015].

Thinkmap, I. (2015).sensory - Dictionary Definition. [online] Available at: [Accessed 17 Mar. 2015].


  • This is the proposed chapter outline for the first research paper: INTRODUCTION
  • CHAPTER 1: Literature review
  • CHAPTER 2: Research theory
  • CHAPTER 3: Findings supported by research
  • CHAPTER 4: Design development

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