ArchiExpo e-Magazine - # 33 Interior DelightsArchiExpo e-Magazine

Interior Delights

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.

Fullpage Villeroy Boch
Hot Topic
This is the day and age for independents to shine.
West End hotel by Aukett Swanke

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...

Hot Topic
Beauty, not just appearance, that is both exemplary and instructive
Courtesy of Out of the Valley

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 cabins

Out of the Valley cabins – Photo © Out of the Valley

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

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.

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 Randall Children’s Hospital in Portland, Oregon, features several Totem pendant lights designed by Burkhard Dämmer and Mariví Calvo for LZF Lamps.

The Randall Children’s Hospital in Portland, Oregon, features several Totem pendant lights designed by Burkhard Dämmer and Mariví Calvo for LZF Lamps. Photo © Luziferlamps S.L.


A final thought

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.

ArchiExpo e-Mag went to Montevideo to meet some of Uruguay’s leading designers

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...

Courtesy of Masquespacio

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The tunnel-shaped entrance to Hikari Yakitori Bar in Valencia, Spain is a portal that transports diners to Tokyo’s streets. After the success of their sushi...


A few months prior to the Maison&Objet in Singapore, on November 15, 2016, its organizer SAFI announced the suspension of Asian and American editions to focus...

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  • Courtesy of Future Architecture Platform

    “Coffee without milk is not the same as coffee without cream,” says Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Žižek. It’s the opening session of the Future Architecture Platform’s Matchmaking Conference in Ljubljana, Slovenia. The FA platform, according to Matevž Čelik, director of the Museum of Architecture and Design in Ljubljana, aims to “spark political critique in architecture anew” and, “address the question of the ‘Excluded and Included.’”

    Bearded, rumpled and holding court like a rambling but beloved uncle, Žižek takes a detour to the philosophy of toilet design before meandering back to the main point: the tension between an open and inclusive worldview and the architect’s desire for order and hierarchy.  “Modern architects perceive a problem in contemporary society and through urban design, attempt to mask or relieve it,” he says.

    The 25 mostly young, mostly architects gathered at the conference, held in a former insane asylum on the edge of the city, were here to present their ideas for how this might be accomplished.

    Some pitches were confusing, it appeared, even to the presenter, many were clever ideas badly presented and still others were elegant and practical solutions to an immediate need.

    The Office of Displaced Designers, based in Lesbos, Greece offers refugees the chance to resume their creative practice while they wait for news. “Humanitarian aid services are primarily delivered to target groups based on vulnerability not on intellectual interest and capacity. Autonomy is severely limited while people wait for undetermined periods of time. We understand that resilience is a finite resource.”


    Refugees who wish to, can share their design, architecture and urban planning skills with others, including people from the host community.

    Spanish architect Adriana Pablos Llona wants to rescue the city and envisions a future where we “approach every challenge with the interconnection and knowledge of all.” Dry construction methods mean buildings and the spaces within remain adaptable over time. Cantilevering and inclined slabs add natural light and space for gardens and go a considerable way towards fixing the inherent ugliness of tower blocks.


    “Utility is where ideology declares itself,” says Žižek, in the midst of another series of jokes and stories and, indeed, the most interesting idea of the day was presented by City Patch, a project by the small Polish firm Studio No. Design for a while, Studio No “tries to solve problems, not build monuments.” Their whimsical temporary structures return microparks, staircases, garage roofs and other abandoned urban spaces to the people.


    The best right-now solution is not a common concept in architecture, but perhaps it should be.  After all says Žižek, whether it is making love or creating a better future through built environment, “the game functions only if it is not taken very seriously.”

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    Courtesy of Caesarstone


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    Courtesy of Alape

    What transforms the run-of-the-mill bathroom into a calm, soothing retreat? As this arena of daily life continues to leap beyond basic function to sensory experience, relaxation is an emotion companies and designers continue to explore. To Christina Biasi-von Berg, principal of Biquadra Interior Architecture, bath furnishings that successfully capture relaxation “appear more hand-crafted or analog.” On the first day of ISH 2017, Biasi-von Berg offered a tour of the manufacturers she thinks are doing relaxation best.

    Contrasting Surfaces

    Surfaces in the bathroom tend to fall in a small group of materials and finishings—however Alape plans to change that. The firm’s two new surfaces for select basins provide striking contrasts in both material and shine. Bicolor pairs two contrasts—black/white and matt/glossy—while Metallic Dark Iron, a newly developed enamel, recalls one of the basin’s earliest incarnations, the carved stone bowl. Alape’s Bicolor is the featured image of this article.

    Precision-Designed Shower

    Pressure, coverage, distribution, water droplet size – how much do these factors have to do with a relaxing shower experience? Chances are you’ve had at least one shower that went terribly wrong…and realized…a lot. Phoenix Design took all of this criteria into account for Axor’s ShowerHeaven 1200/300, channeling the latest in shower technology. The dramatic four-jet shower experience – experience seems appropriate here, this is not your average shower –  incorporates the company’s PowderRain technology and has two types of precision-shaped water drops. Every element of this shower is precision-designed, and the result transforms a mundane daily activity into a narrative on the beauty of water.


    The Showerheaven shower head by Phoenix Design for Hansgrohe brand Axor.

    The Showerheaven shower head by Phoenix Design for Hansgrohe brand Axor.

    Check out the latest bathroom products via online exhibition site ArchiExpo.

    Generous Proportions

    An abundance of basin space was a priority at Flaminia Ceramic. The manufacturer’s new Bloom basin by Angeletti-Ruzza has generous geometric proportions. Meanwhile, a large oval-shaped basin is a curvaceous addition to the successful Bonola collection by Jasper Morrison.


    The oval-shaped Bonola basin by Jasper Morrison for Flaminia Ceramic. Photo courtesy of Flaminia Ceramic.

    The oval-shaped Bonola basin by Jasper Morrison for Flaminia Ceramic. Photo courtesy of Flaminia Ceramic.

    Sculptural Beauty

    Creativity brings relaxation for many, something designers well understand. For Antoniolupi, Paolo Ulian conceived a sculptural white Carrara marble washbasin with a three-dimensional pixelated surface which can be playfully customized. A play on destruction and creation, Pixels can be broken and removed for an entirely unique surface. The result is homage to both the digital age and the imprecise beauty of a crumbling marble sculpture.


    Freestanding marble washbasin INTROVERSO by Paolo Ulian for Antoniolupi

    Freestanding marble washbasin INTROVERSO by Paolo Ulian for Antoniolupi

    Unexpected Softness

    In the living room, fabrics help define comfort. So why not in the bathroom? Using the latest upholstery technology, the Bettelux Oval Couture collection by Dominik Tesseraux for Bette features a free-standing bath and floor-standing washbasin in glazed titanium-steel that is then tightly wrapped in a woven fabric. The sturdy fabric, which can be removed and washed like an apron, is stain-, water-, mold-, and weather-resistant.

    Despite defining and pursuing the relaxing bathroom experience in different ways, Biasi-von Berg says these companies all have one thing in common: “They avoid the mechanics—not that they aren’t there, but that you just can’t see them.”


    The Bettelux Oval Couture bath collection by Dominik Tesseraux for Bette.

    The Bettelux Oval Couture bath collection by Dominik Tesseraux for Bette.

    The Bettelux Oval Couture bath collection by Dominik Tesseraux for Bette.

    The Bettelux Oval Couture bath collection by Dominik Tesseraux for Bette.


    Mairi Beautyman

    Mairi Beautyman is a journalist based out of Berlin. She’s been writing about design and architecture since 2001.

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    Marcia Adair

    Marcia Adair is a Canadian freelance journalist based in Cologne, Germany.

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    Sole Møller

    Sole Møller is a Danish freelance journalist based in San Fransisco

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    Gerard McGuickin

    Gerard McGuickin is a freelance design writer and a blogger.

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    Erin Tallman

    American artist Erin Tallman is a journalist for various online publications and is the Editor in Chief of ArchiExpo e-magazine. She has published three books, including her first novel.

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    Vanessa Liwanag

    Vanessa Liwanag, is an MBA alumni of the prestigious Mod’Art International in Paris and founder of Creative Talents Worldwide.

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    Hilary Edesess

    Hilary Edesess is a freelance journalist based in Marseille, France. She blogs about culture, art and urban design.

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    Erin Gigl

    Erin Gigl is a freelance design and travel writer, editor and artist.

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