Wellness design: what is it, and why does it matter?

18 October, 2018 6:17 pm

50 years ago, wellness just meant the opposite of sick or unwell. It’s a term that mushroomed in use during the 1980s and 1990s, as gyms and workplace started to take notice and wellness grew in popularity and importance. It wasn’t long before wellness design started to follow suit.

Wellness design blog rachel laxer interiors

Wellness design aims to create spaces which strongly support wellbeing and help those who interact with the space. That might be, for example, through using natural materials to create an emotional impact, matching lighting with human circadian rhythms, allocating areas for activities such as yoga or relaxation, or using natural light. Acoustics, colour and furnishings are also important. In a work setting, even the strategic location of water coolers affects wellness.

Wellness design blog rachel laxer interiors

It may mean creating designated areas for solitude and social interaction. In a gym, for example, it may mean having spaces where members come together and forge relationships. If people are meditating, wellness design may be about creating an immersive environment.

Too often in the past, particularly in commercial settings, design has focused on practicality without taking into account the mental wellbeing of the users of the space. Now there’s a much stronger spotlight on mental health, designers and architects are rightly altering their designs to enhance wellbeing.

Creating a space with wellness in mind will mean those using it will be happier, healthier and, in commercial settings, therefore more productive. In the residential sector, wellness design might incorporate home spas, yoga/meditation rooms, mood lighting that reacts to your state of mind and more.

Many new hotels offer a completely wellness-oriented experience, with their design an integral part of that experience. The Amangiri resort Utah, for example, makes heavy use of wellness design.

Wellness design and the recent emphasis on the user experience is important because it shows that we are better connected to what makes us tick and so can create spaces that are more in tune with our natural rhythms. Living in harmony with one’s surroundings is an idyllic future, and wellness design offers one clear route to that scenario.