Bringing the Mind into a Space of Conflict Resolution: Designing a Conference Center for Mediation

This is a research project aimed at exploring the many ways in which thoughtful and purposed interior design can play a significant role in positively affecting people’s mood and behavior in mediation.


While most research on the dynamics of conflict resolution focuses on the conflicting parties’ personalities, objectives and positioning, and their interpersonal power structures, this research project focuses on how the physical environment can impact mediation proceedings. Aspects of sound, light, temperature, color, texture, smell, and the shape of physical space can all positively or negatively influence participants’ psychological willingness to work cooperatively and reach agreement.


Through site surveys of existing conflict resolution facilities (including government agencies, non-profit/community-based organizations, and for-profit ADR firms), the author will explore the benefits and drawbacks of certain interior design techniques and their correlated effects on the social psychology of mediation and negotiation.


Interviews and surveys of conflict resolution practitioners (mediators and collaborative lawyers) and their clients will provide insight into their individual perception of how interior design impacts the conflict proceedings.


Finally, by highlighting appropriate and beneficial design ideas, evidence and ideas will be provided that it is possible to design a mediation facility where the participants are psychologically and physically brought into a space of communication, cooperation, and respect (and, hopefully, mutually beneficial resolution).


Please complete the survey attached to this short article and return it to the author by July 10.

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Stacey Bran

Stacey Bran is in the process of earning her Masters in Fine Arts – Interior Design program at The George Washington University. MORE >

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