Designing for Wellbeing

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Is “wellbeing” just a new trendy buzzword, or a sincere philosophy that attempts to improve our lives ?

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The Agora work space in Berlin, Germany

Every man and his dog seem to be talking about “wellbeing” these days. Having overtaken “quality” as the buzzword for 2015, wellbeing seems to be the new phrase du jour of every industry from hospitality, to education, to the workplace, to design and beyond.

Although there has not been a clear definition established for what well being actually is – in broad strokes,  it can generally be defined as overall happiness and quality of life – which raises a definition concern in itself.

The best definition, perhaps, comes from Theodore Roosevelt in 1901: “Wellness is not a ‘medical fix’ but a way of living – a lifestyle sensitive and responsive to all the dimensions of body, mind, and spirit, an approach to life we each design to achieve our highest potential for wellbeing now and forever.” Here, design plays a hugely significant role in achieving this utopian, holistic idea of “wellbeing”.

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From this, perhaps we shouldn’t throw “wellbeing” into the “trend” bin, but rather begin to view it as a legitimate philosophy for greater mental, physical and spiritual health. A recent article in The Guardian by Elizabeth Burton, Professor of Sustainable Building Design and Wellbeing at The University of Warwick, proposed that: “Cities of the future should be designed with wellbeing in mind.”

‘Greener’ offices and the potential for biophilic design are hot topics on the business agenda for 2015, but the question remains, will employers take action and move one step closer to improving well-being, happiness, and ultimately productivity in the workplace or will they fall behind?

It goes without saying that employers can’t wave a magic wand to give their employees a view of the sea. However, it is possible to bring elements of nature into the workplace through the interpretation of design. For example, a view of the countryside can be depicted through the use of textures and colours in decorative planning, carpets and materials.

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The Agora work space in Berlin, Germany

An insurgence of design houses have begun to embrace the following philosophy at their core;“Imagine a world where spaces, make you feel good about yourself, help you reach your potential, keep you healthy and safe, and support you in making good relationships. This is my vision for housing of the future – the pursuit of wellbeing and creation of spaces that help us to flourish.”

These design houses are leading by example to truly impact on the overall wellbeing of the user. Famed designers of commercial flooring and floor covers, Interface, provide a solid case-in-point.

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Urban Retreat

Interface’s approach to holistic design considers that environment is interlinked to the future of an individual’s potential. This, paired with ‘Biophilia’; an applied science that evokes positive physiological, psychological cognitive responses in humans act as a tool kit for humans to take on life’s challenges.

A space when designed with Interface modular system can lay the foundation for creating an environment that naturally awakens one’s ability to thrive, collaborate and be creative. Our system of planks and squares is unique in its breadth and depth and has the ability to affect people in an emotionally positive way.

This kind of thinking can only lead to something extraordinary, provocative, innovative and new. A foundation for beautiful thinking.


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