As design competition increases and current design practices mature, how does evidence-based design begin to inform areas of design outside of healthcare, and what is the resulting impact on the competitive advantage of design firms that integrate evidence-based design throughout their practice areas?

Evidence-based design, which grew out of the healthcare industry’s focus on evidence-based medicine emerging in the 1990’s, focuses on understanding the effect of environment on physical and mental health and has become widespread part of design in Western healthcare systems. Benefits of evidence-based design are numerous and there are a growing number of studies and articles that show the influence of environment on health (Effects of Healthcare Environmental Design on Medical Outcomes, The four levels of evidence-based practice, Psychological Stress and Susceptibility to the Common Cold). Corporate interiors and workplace design groups already utilize ROI metrics in selling design solutions, including the return on investment of how design impacts employee productivity, but how could residential, government, or even retail environments benefit from an evidence-based design approach in ways that are more implicit than the effect on simple corporate psychology? All of these questions impact our work as recruiters, as evidence-based design grows in prominence beyond the practice area of healthcare design it becomes a higher priority skill-set, and designers who understand and can speak the language of evidence-based design become a more valuable asset for our clients.

In closing, more food for thought includes the question of how evidence-based design already implicitly affects current design practice and trends across practice areas, and what less obvious design environments (and inhabitants) would benefit most from an evidence-based design approach? Because we live in a world that requires design to always have at least a nominal return on investment, does evidence-based design have limitations in this regard? Does evidence-based design negatively impact or limit the art of design or does it just alter the artistic nature of design challenges?

For more on evidence-based design see the following links:
Evidence-Based Design in Healthcare:
A Theoretical Dilemma

Evidence-based Design Accreditation and Certification (EDAC)
Evidence-based Design Accreditation and Certification Blog
The Future of Evidence-Based Design