Updated: Nov 6, 2020
Will 2020 Ever End? The answer, of course, is a resounding YES!
Who’s ready to put 2020 to bed? I certainly am. We are living in a world barely recognizable from 7 months ago. There are no guarantees, but it stands to reason that 2021 could most likely be a better year in many ways- the more we understand what we are up against, the more arsenal we will have to fight it. This is the first of three installments looking at major changes we are making in how we live our lives in terms of design.
If there ever was a word that described 2020, it has been PIVOT. This goes for companies so they can remain viable but also for us as individuals, in how we work, dine, and gather together. As we've moved our way through Covid 19, it has forced us to dial back, pause and consider how to modify, and some of those changes will be permanent. In that spirit, let’s look at some larger concept design trends that are already being seen and for how we will look at approaching 2021. While this list is by no means exhaustive, these will be areas and concepts people will be looking at to spend their hard earned money. Rich Barton from the Zillow group calls this upcoming era “The great reshuffling” in how we utilize our homes. So what are some of the big ideas we can look at right now in view of how we live?
#1 Health & Wellness Design
The big idea here- and it is really big- is Health & Wellness design. This concept has been around for a while and was already being implemented BEFORE Covid hit, but largely in commercial settings. So what is it? Let’s reduce it to some basics.
First, Health & Wellness incorporates several ideas that encompass the elements and principles of design that all of us 'designers' have learned and love to talk about (balance & proportion, space, lines, harmony, balance etc) and Biophilic Design is more recently being recognized in conjunction with these ideas as well. What must be said is that when design incorporates strong principles of design and other wellness aspects, it improves health- physically and emotionally. Serotonin is known to regulate mood and social behavior, appetite and digestion, sleep, memory and sexual desire & function. When a person walks into a space that is porportioned well, harmonious and incorporates principles of Health and Wellness in it, it has been shown that there is a release of Serotonin in the brain. This isn’t about a design ‘style’ but about how a space is assembled. It matters. Really. In a space that is chaotic or uncomfortable studies show that cortisol is released. Cortisol is a stress hormone which is shown to impair cognitive abilities, suppress thyroid function, elevate blood pressure, decrease muscle tissue, lower immunity and inflammatory responses in the body & cause other problems. There has always been anecdotal evidence as to how it makes us feel, but now there is true empirical evidence in how it literally changes our state of mind. An interesting read in Health & Wellness Design is Beauty, Neuroscience & Architecture by Donald H Ruggles in which he explores what beauty is (spoiler alert-it isn't solely in the eye of the beholder) and the science of how beauty makes us feel both emotionally and physically.
While Health and Wellness design is always good to incorporate into a space- now, more than ever, there is a great need to implement on a personal level. Covid has slowed down our frenetic lifestyles and allowed room for reflection and stillness. We are living in a time where there is so much uncertainty that home is literally the best place for nurturing ourselves and our well-being instead of just coming back to a place to sleep and maybe eat once in a while. A well designed, well thought out space melding indoors with outdoors will help give a person the best opportunity to experience the benefits of that.
5 Key Elements:
Bringing nature inside; plants, atriums, living walls
Light, bright, inviting spaces
Larger windows to connect with the outdoors
Implementing good elements & principles of design
Defining spaces: meaning having a specific purpose for each room
Want more info? Check some of these articles out:
Next we will look at the second design change. Any guesses? Here's a hint; unlike this slower- to- go concept of Health and Wellness design, this is something that we as designers have been seeing implemented already, but guaranteed in 2021 there will be no slowing down in how we are seeing this space morph and be refined in our homes.
How about you? What design related adjustments have you made or have seen others make because of Covid?