Public art and public space: Waiting stress and waiting pleasure

Klingemann, Harald; Scheuermann, Arne (2015). Public art and public space: Waiting stress and waiting pleasure Time and Society, 27(1), pp. 69-91. 10.1177/0961463X15596701

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The study presented here applies from an interdisciplinary perspective the “temporal know-how” of art and communication design as well as the social sciences to the exploration of the impact of two types of holistic artistic waiting room transformations on waiting experience and behaviour. The quasi-experiment was conducted in a hospital and in an administrative setting. Contrary to current information centred types of waiting management stressing ‘clock-time’ only and attempting to reduce objective waiting times, the artistic intervention follows a holistic concept by appealing to all the senses influencing felt time and social time. It comprises visual, acoustic, tactile/haptic and olfactory elements (fragrance management). The “observation-oriented” artistic intervention uses contemplative video works, ornamentation, relaxing fragrances and a corresponding seating design. The “action-oriented” room climate promotes communication and stimulating object and surface design, coupled with a subliminally stimulating fragrance environment. After a simultaneous one-week baseline measurement in both organizations, follow-up measures were conducted during one week of each type of intervention. Results are based on 482 personal interviews and 1950 observations of waiting clients: Perceived waiting time and objective waiting time correlated only moderately (rp = 56) and expected waiting time was overestimated. In both waiting room settings, room transformations – compared to baseline measures – reduced waiting stress behaviour (however not perceived stress) and increased both positive overall room perception and the evaluation of specific room characteristics among clients/patients. Differences between the two room climates were not significant and effects appear to be stronger in the administrative space. The relatively short waiting times (16–20 min) and high levels of waiting satisfaction at baseline might have limited the effect size of the holistic interventions. At the same time observed positive outcomes can be plausibly expected in waiting zones with much longer waiting times.

Item Type:

Newspaper or Magazine Article


Bern Academy of the Arts
Bern Academy of the Arts > Institute of Design Research
Bern Academy of the Arts > HKB Teaching


Klingemann, Harald0000-0003-0957-7220 and
Scheuermann, Arne0000-0001-5134-2121






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Date Deposited:

08 Aug 2019 07:41

Last Modified:

18 Dec 2020 13:27

Publisher DOI:



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