Whenever we do something to improve something, we’re designing. Design is everywhere, in essence everyone is a designer.
As living beings, we are our environment. Design plays a significant role in human health and wellbeing, and the way that we configure and manipulate elements in a space can mean more to it’s inhabitants than whether they like the colour of the walls or texture of the carpet or the thread count of the bed linen. On the most basic level certain environmental factors have universal effects on all on us – e.g daylight and circadian rhythm.
Wellbeing is a state of being with others, where human, planetary and economic needs are met, where one can act meaningfully to pursue one’s goals and where one enjoys a satisfactory quality of life.
Improving wellbeing is at the heart of the spa and wellness industry and increasingly in the hospitality sector. Together these sectors promote a number of strategic approaches to policy and practice development to enhance wellbeing outcomes for people – including the workforce and guests.
One of these strategic approaches – Design for Wellbeing or Salutogenic design – looks at the measurable aspect of design and environmental psychology which measures the mood and soul of a place in ways that that can assist both the building itself and the building’s inhabitants to operate at their peak effectiveness while maintaining and enhancing physical and mental wellbeing. In essence, to demonstrate how thoughtfully designed spaces can have a powerful impact on its inhabitants.
Design for Wellbeing can be defined as SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound) design of spaces, places, material objects and experiences that create the ability of design to evoke positive or negative emotional responses, enhance our connection to nature and curate moments for the rituals of peoples daily lives towards achieving overall holistic wellness.
In practical terms, Design for Wellbeing means disrupting and transforming the quality of life by combining architectural, artistic, craft based, innovative, evidence based research and therapeutic driven approaches for individual, system and infrastructure level changes through integrative, transformative, holistic and collaborative processes (Example: WELL Building and FIT WELL standard).
Design for Wellbeing is not one thing – it is many. It requires that design be seen as a broad umbrella of wellbeing enhancing experiences that indentify issues in systems and find technical solutions and practices than can and should be improved for the betterment of human and natural life.
In other words better design points the way forward towards better solutions that will effectively eliminate stress and anxiety from all elements of the built environment and in turn optimize and maximize the user experience and it’s resulting impact on the brain, body and behaviour (including productivity).
Examples: a) Creating a positive healing and restorative atmosphere via Biophilia.
- b) Linking the visual connections between the interior and exterior c) Increased usage of natural and local materials which positively affect stress responses c) Dynamic and diffuse daylight to support healthy circadian rythms d) Indoor Air Quality f) Natural odours and scents.
Though the wellness trend will play itself out and evolve over time, people-centric, health focused design with emphasis on people, planet, productivity and profit will endure in hospitality and Spa design and architecture.
Whether it is creating a positive healing and restorative atmosphere, where space, place and experience work in harmony with aesthetics and happiness to nurture all our senses, Design for Wellbeing can pay huge dividends in terms of enhanced well-being, productivity, business effectiveness and efficiency and reduced “Nature Deficit Disorder” – a naturally profitable return on a relatively small investment.