It’s scientifically unnatural for humans to remain indoors, however there we are for the majority of our day. Our March issue touches on the aspect of creating healthy and eco-friendly interiors from the home to healthcare centers. In an article dedicated to the transformation of hotel design, professionals discuss what makes or breaks the hotel in terms of products and architecture layouts. We step away from interiors and take you to Uruguay to discover some of the leading designers.
ArchiExpo e-Magazine held its webinar discussion Disrupting the Hotel Industry on March 13, 2017, with a special focus on interior design. Last year’s Sleep Set competition, whose complex and important theme Sinus-Milieus got us thinking about the possible transformation in hotel design. Joel Butler, event manager at...
Your home is your castle—the place where you feel most safe and secure, cozy and warm. Here, my thinking is reasoned and rational, my emotions engaged and balance restored. At home, my well-being is central. To an increasing extent, we are taking this premise of well-being at home and seeking it in different areas of our lives: from the workplace to healthcare, and retail to respite.
The Oxford English dictionary defines well-being as “the state of being comfortable, healthy, or happy.” Human nature is complex and many factors will impact on a person’s well-being, not least in relation to lifestyle, career, money, relationships and environment. In a 2011 European Commission report on well-being, the “quality of residence” was related to one’s well-being, with notable factors including: “size, the interior or decor, the idea of a comfortable and pleasant dwelling… owning a healthy and eco-friendly house [and] liking the home you are in.”
Fostering relationships with interiors
A well-designed interior can affect well-being by exerting influence on happiness, emotional state, physiology, behavior and sensory faculties. But what constitutes a well-designed interior? There are a number of components: light, sound, smell, temperature, texture, context, interaction, connectivity, decoration and furnishings. Each of these components should relate to one another and to the person.
A person’s relationship with their interior will also affect well-being. An interior without substance, one that is capricious and concerned more with appearance, is unlikely to foster a meaningful relationship (with the individual). In a recent interview with Kinfolk magazine, celebrated industrial designer Dieter Rams asserted: “Beauty, not just appearance, that is both exemplary and instructive, certainly intensifies and prolongs the relationship with the user and therefore also makes sense ecologically. In my 10 principles of good design, I have written that the aesthetic quality of a product is an integral aspect of its usefulness, for the appliances that we use daily have an impact on our personal environment and influence our sense of well-being” Applying Rams’ thinking to interior design suggests that the aesthetic quality of an interior, one that is exemplary and instructive, encourages a sincere relationship with the person on a daily basis, influencing their sense of well-being.
Out of the Valley’s oak cabin design offers relief from the stresses and strains of modern-day living. The company believes that small buildings impact positively on well-being, and provide a bridge between people and nature. Out of the Valley’s oak cabin combines a satisfying Scandinavian aesthetic with meticulous craftsmanship and a modest interior.
Ecology and well-being
Dieter Rams’ reference to ecology shows that how we relate to our physical surroundings is connected with well-being. Linking with this idea, Atkins—a worldwide design, engineering and project management consultancy (established in 1938)—created WellBriefing, an interactive online survey tool placing people’s well-being at the heart of building design. WellBriefing explains well-being in terms of a physiological and psychological framework, consisting of nine factors impacting building design. They include: light, temperature and noise (tangible physical factors); flexibility, ownership and connectivity (somewhat intangible psychological factors). The WellBriefing model posits that if we can understand the complex, interconnected nature of these factors at the outset of a building’s design, then we can create an environment that nurtures the well-being of the building’s inhabitants.
Efforts to concretize well-being in relation to building design and interiors, such as the Atkins WellBriefing tool, are very welcome. Yet a commonsense approach to interior design and well-being is just as viable, particularly on a smaller scale: ensuring a room has plenty of natural light and adequate ventilation, a view and space to move around, are several simple well-being remedies.
Healthcare interiors and well-being
There are many pragmatic examples of designing with well-being in mind, especially in healthcare environments:
An orthodontic clinic in Wijchen, Netherlands, was designed by Amsterdam-based Studio Prototype to reduce anxiety. The clinic’s interior is light and bright, with high open spaces and panoramic views of the surrounding landscape. Studio Prototype selected a muted palette of colors, creating a clean and serene air.
Orthodontic clinic interior by Amsterdam-based Studio Prototype. Photo by Jeroen Musch via Studio Prototype.
Foster + Partners designed a peaceful Maggie’s Centre home away from home in Manchester, England. Maggie’s Centres offer a welcoming place of respite where people affected by cancer can find emotional and practical support. The Foster + Partners design prioritized natural light, greenery and garden views throughout, making use of warm materials, including wood and tactile fabrics.
Maggie’s Centre in Manchester. Photo via Foster + Partners.
In healthcare settings generally, the importance of ambience and lighting cannot be underestimated: an environment with a pleasing atmosphere—one enhanced by the clever arrangement of lights—is beneficial to the well-being of both staff and patients. Aggressive lighting should be avoided as well as abrupt variations in light levels.
The 21st century’s fast and frantic pace of life is unsustainable, unless well-being is factored into everything we do, make, create and build. We spend, on average, nearly 90% of our time indoors, and in order to feel happy on the inside, interior design must deliver with respect to well-being.
Uruguay rarely makes headlines. The small South American country of just 3.4 million people is mostly known for fútbol, renewable energy and legalizing marijuana. But in recent years a quiet design revolution has swept across the country. Despite the fact that it has only been possible to study industrial design in...
As consumers turn towards local economies, crowdsharing and collective economies, hand-crafted objects are exploding on the design scene. Thanks to platforms like Etsy, today’s creators are able to find success via homespun items. Still, if these designers want to branch out and produce a series of objects at a low price, outsourcing designs doesn’t eliminate the ecological impact of shipping globally. Isn’t there another solution ?
ArchiExpo e-Magazine spoke to French designer Melanie Buatois, to discuss her Ch’ni initiative and their adventure with local and cooperative product design and production.
Functioning as a maison d’edition (an edition house), or a publishing house would, Ch’ni works with local designers by financing and producing their objects directly with local manufacturers and fabricators, then taking on the distribution. Similar to a co-op in the sense that everyone involved is in close contact and participates, yet, Ch’ni is the generator keeping the system local and running.
“I think we lose a lot of quality in our work by using so many intermediates. The essence of an idea tends to get lost somewhere in the process.”
However, Ch’ni has a unique catch: they work directly with fabricators who are skilled in craftsmanship and artistry, yet have not been trained to work in the field of design.The idea is to recognize skill in a different light.Therefore the objects carry the charm of an expert encountering a new approach, like a wise sailor traversing new waters.
“It is also a desire to value the work of people around us, around where we live. Somehow, we’ve convinced ourselves that we lost both our craftsmanship and our local manufacturing, when in reality, the world around us is still mostly made and transformed by countless local, capable hands. I’d like to be able to prove that locals can make a lot of great things. We don’t have to cross the world for that.”
The name “Ch’ni” means dust in the French Bressan dialect, spoken by Buatois’ family.
“The more there is, the more we see,” is also a familiar expression for her, representing her vision to expose the craft and savoir-faire of diverse artisans.
After studying at an applied art school in Nevers, Burgundy, with a product design option, and taking a jaunt around the Netherlands to experience the vibrant design scene there, Buatois was on the path of creation. She launched Ch’ni in 2016, finishing the year with a crowdfunding campaign on kisskissbankbank.
Ch’ni on Kisskissbanbank
So far, Ch’ni is a smaller initiative, choosing designers based on their specific relationship with and understanding of materials. “This is very important, because for products to actually make it into production, we need to hunt for this sweet spot between design and manufacturing. It’s all about a sense for unexpected potential, and the talent to translate this potential into a meaningful product.”
Buatois opts for working with designers who are just starting off as well, “Like a little push!,” she says.
The designer selection goes hand in hand with the manufacturer choice. “What charms us are the techniques they use, their process, their machines. We try to understand their limitations, but also their flexibility to do more than they are currently used to.” Ch’ni tries to work with raw materials due to their open potential, and the openness of the manufacturers is a crucial component.
“Most people like to challenge their routine, and most of the time, it is a real pleasure to work with these passionate manufacturers.”
Around the Corner
In April, Ch’ni will be exhibiting in Paris during the D’Days, at Galerie Joyce. After that, the goal is to expand the scale of their production to include other European countries giving a platform to designers beyond France. Then “to try to use more materials that are sustainable or recycled. And other ways to produce with PEOPLE, on a human scale!”