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Chris Hill, outgoing AMA Knoxville President, introduced our June virtual event and recognized the board members, volunteers, and annual sponsors (Slamdot, Colby’s Photography, Kroeger-Miller CPAs, and Humblepod) that make it possible for the chapter to continually invest in Knoxville’s marketing community.

The AMA Knoxville chapter works to bring together local marketing minds for professional development events and networking opportunities. The chapter also supports the next generation of marketers through the  Eagle Endowment, a scholarship for marketing students at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

As an additional way to support the local marketing community, the Knoxville AMA chapter has partnered with UT’s non-credit program to provide AMA-backed certificate programs. Be sure to sign up for fall courses at http://www.utnoncredit.com/


Meet the Speaker

Combining over a decade of research-driven experience, her intuitive empathic nature and educational approach, Bonnie Casamassima guides clients on how to use the psychology of interior design and the healing science of nature within their everyday spaces to nurture their productivity, intuition and wellbeing. She is the Principal and Founder of Interweave People Place and an Adjunct Professor of Interior Design at Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD).

Bonnie holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Interior Design from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville and a Master of Fine Arts degree within Interior Design focusing on Biophilic Design and Environmental Psychology from SCAD.

She lives in Knoxville, TN with her partner and his two kids. She enjoys traveling, pottery, live-music and a good belly laugh. You can connect with Bonnie on Facebook.


Our Spaces Impact Our Well Being and Quality of Life

The EPA estimates that we spend 90% of our lives indoors – that means that 9 out of every 10 of our breaths are taken inside built spaces. And oftentimes, those spaces are drab, impersonal, and uninspiring (imagine an empty classroom or an office full of cubicles) and leave us feeling drained and lacking motivation.

This happens because our spaces impact us significantly in direct, biological ways. There’s a whole body of science behind those intuitive feelings we have about our spaces called environmental psychology. This discipline looks at how our environments affect us, the restorative properties our spaces can provide, and how we can design our spaces to best serve our wellbeing.

You’ve probably already been exposed to these concepts without realizing it. Anybody heard of Marie Kondo? Feng shui?


Bringing Environmental Psychology and Biophilic Design Into Our Spaces

Just like healthy eating or an active lifestyle, healthy built spaces can impact us significantly. By including biophilic design elements like plentiful daylight and natural materials, a variety of spaces have seen significant improvements:

  • In classrooms, test scores were 7-18% higher and information was retained 20-60% faster.
  • In offices, employees showed higher productivity and took fewer sick days.
  • In homes, individuals felt reduced stress and increased restoration.

Take a moment to think about your own spaces. What spaces make you feel most supported?

How can spaces impact us? 

We attach memories (and by extension, emotions) to the objects around us. In a split second as we walk by a trinket shelf, years of memories and emotions are being cued within us.

In this same moment, our amygdala is being engaged and can trigger our fight or flight response if these objects stress us. It can take a few minutes (or even up to 4 hours) for our bodies to return to a neutral, resting state once it’s been cued for this stress response.

This is why we feel so liberated when we declutter our spaces – we are removing objects that stress us on a subconscious level. 

What can we do? 

Listen to your intuition about what things do or don’t serve you and use insights to support you. Remove the things that cue stressful responses and replace them with things that invoke a sense of gratitude and serve our mental wellbeing. 


Increasing Productivity & Wellbeing

Let’s take a moment to look specifically at the spaces in which we work. During any given workday we go through four different work modes: focusing, learning, collaborating, and socializing. You may mentally shift between these modes many times during a day and our workspace should support the way we work.

Our spaces are an ecosystem that should provide us diversity and the opportunity to move through those work modes and accommodate the best way we work. (For example, private desk spaces vs. coworking tables, opportunities to work standing or seated, etc…)

Take a moment and Imagine being in your favorite space in nature. Think deeply about how it makes you feel. That feeling is the goal of biophilic design – bringing the calm of nature into our built spaces and our daily lives.

How can we accomplish this?

There are many ways to bring biophilic design into your spaces, but we’ll focus on two important ones:

  • Engage all senses
    • Incorporate smells, sounds, and textures of environments that are most nurturing to you
    • Biophilia means “love of life” and many people start working toward this by filling their home with plants but it doesn’t have to stop there. You can pull in natural, warm light, environmental colors, natural shapes and forms, etc..
    • Think about organizing your space so that daylight follows you throughout your day. This supports our circadian rhythms to engage our production of serotonin.
  • Security and zones
    • Orient your workspace so that your boat is against a wall. If your back is exposed to the room, your fight or flight reaction is constantly being cued.
    • Ideally, consider setting up your space to have a view out a window
    • Create zones between functional spaces. Especially when working from home it’s important to create a separation between “home” and “office”. Area rugs are great for creating a divide and threshold between spaces in a single room.

Keep in mind that not every space using biophilic design will look alike. No matter what spaces you’re designing, listen to what resonates most with you and your community or organization. Then, use the insights we’ve discussed to integrate biophilic design.

To learn more, we recommend that you read 7 Remote Work Design Tips: Rock Your Productivity and Wellbeing, check out other articles and courses from InterweavePeoplePlace, and consider picking up a book off of Interweave’s recommended reading list below.

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