Return on Design Investment: Learning from Las Vegas

Lighting design is undergoing a quiet revolution, leading to new architectural and interior designs while providing enhanced intrinsic benefits for the designer’s clients, the client’s employees and the client’s customers.

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Nowhere has the science of design and its financial return been more thoroughly scrutinized than Las Vegas. Steve Wynn and his designer Roger Thomas have turned casino design on its head. According to Karen Finlay, a researcher of gambler behavior and professor at the University of Guelf, Thomas’ designs create a space of “refuge” and mental “restoration” which served to reduce gambler stress levels.

As conceived by Wynn and Thomas, the Bellagio’s casino represented a $1.6-billion bet on human psychology. The gamble paid off: the Bellagio generated the largest profits for a single property in Las Vegas history. And this income wasn’t a by-product of scale—the Bellagio was less than half the size of the MGM Grand—but a direct result of the way that Wynn’s guests spent money. Per guest room, the resort generated four times as much revenue as the Las Vegas average. (1)

There are numerous studies on environmental features used to manipulate human senses. For instance, light and color are two variables that can directly affect behavior. Colors are closely associated with various moods. Red is “exciting” and “stimulating”, blue is “comfortable”, “secure” and “soothing”, orange can create “angst” and green is “ecological” and “leisurely”. Color also affects physiological reactions such as pulse rate, breathing rate, and arousal. When it comes to gaming research, it has been shown that people will tend to take greater risks when exposed to red light, but much less so when colors veer towards the blue end of the spectrum.

However, what is done in Vegas doesn’t have to stay in Vegas. In fact, to create similar levels of ambience is becoming easier and more commonplace. Imagine being able to show a concrete Return on Design Investment (RODI) through an effective mix of color and lighting; designs that allow your clients to control the specific ambience of their business at any time? Imagine being able to create refuge and places of mental restoration for employees within their place of employment, or a place where customers desire to purchase more. What would the impact be?

(1) Wired Magazine: The Psychology of Casinos
http://www.wired.com/2012/03/the-psychology-of-casinos/