So we always hear about how eating right, exercising, getting enough sleep and practicing mindfulness, adds to the longevity and sustainability of ones life, however we rarely discuss the benefits of our built environment in relation to our well-being. With the majority of our lives spent indoors, working, sleeping, eating and exercising, of course the built environment is going to have a profound impact on the way we feel.
According to Dave Alan Kopec, a specialist in the field of Architecture and Design, the space you reside in has a direct impact on your subconscious, contributing to your emotions and perceptions, noting a significant impact on interior design as an inherent part of individuals psychology. Adding to this, Environmental Psychologist and Interior Designer Migette Kaup stated "architectural cues can provide reinforcement to the desired behaviours that we would like to see enacted in specific place types" . While some spaces will add to your anxiety, others provoke a sense of serenity. As Interior Designers, Architects and Building Designers it is our role to ensure that the space in which individuals occupy will not only be visually appealing, safe, social and practical, but also, provoke a sense of happiness, productivity and wellness.
So lets now break down some key concepts you can apply to your home, that we as Designers focus on when creating wellness spaces.
BIOPHILIC DESIGN INCORPORATED WITH ECO-PSYCHOLOGY
Humans possess an innate tendency to seek connections with nature and other forms of life. Biophilic design is a new way to harness this innate human need in order to create natural environments for us to live, work and learn. Design that connects us to nature is proven to inspire us, boost our productivity and even contribute to a stronger sense of well-being. Eco-psychology seeks to understand and explore the ways in which mind and nature are related, and perhaps to offer humanity a new vision of itself - one that locates the human individual and mind within the natural world. A growing body of research points to the beneficial effects that exposure to the natural world has on health, reducing stress and promoting healing. In a study of 20,000 people, a team led by Mathew White of the European Centre for Environment & Human Health at the University of Exeter, found that people who spent two hours a week in green spaces — local parks or other natural environments, either all at once or spaced over several visits — were substantially more likely to report good health and psychological well-being than those who don’t. Now, Not every space can be designed to incorporate all the principles of biophilic design, but there are often many contributory elements that will collectively enhance the interior and the wellbeing of those within it. It’s more than just the addition of a pot plant or two! Natural light, vegetation, good air quality, living walls, natural textures, materials and nature views will provide a positive impact. It’s necessary to bring the outdoors in and create indoor environments that reference nature in both obvious and subtle ways.
The biggest impact to our overall health and psychology is, in fact, the little things. Clutter – shoes at the entrance, wardrobes stuffed with clothes we haven’t worn in years, the dinning table without much space for actually having a meal. It is truly profound how these things can have a negative impact on our mood, our relationships and even on our sleep. Have you ever noticed how difficult it is to focus when you’re in a room or home surrounded by clutter? Having a messy environment isn’t going to help you in any way. It plays on your mind without you even realising. In the great words of Marie Kondo "only keep items in your home that spark joy, discard the items that don’t, and organize everything in a way that makes items easy to find."
LIGHT THE ROOM & OPEN A WINDOW
Light is increasingly becoming one of the most important elements in home design. Natural light takes the center of the discussion as it can provide a tremendous health and wellness boost. Many studied gives us the proof that it improves productivity, alertness, mood – it can effect our physiological or psychological state. Natural light not only affects our day-night rhythm, but also our vitamin D balance. Additionally daylight inhibits the production of melatonin, which ensures that we get tired when it gets dark. When we open windows we release the stale energy in that is cooped in our home. Similar to our previous point on biophilic design, by letting in the natural air, it automatically connects the outside world in. We recommend opening windows every morning when you wake up and in the afternoon when you get home from work.