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The Importance of Wellness in Design

With priorities shifting for consumers, incorporating wellness and sustainability into design is now a must for all residential spaces.

By Angela Harris

As the desires of consumers and residents evolve, we are going to see a significant importance and demand placed on wellness and sustainability, in both the design and manufacturing industries. I feel strongly that we will also see this shift across numerous other disciplines, and companies will begin to come together for the greater good of our communities and our world.  

Developers are taking note, and incorporating WELL design practices have become more common in the past year. While we have been designing this way for over a decade, we feel that now, more than ever, end consumers are signaling these needs in their daily lives. Spaces which include wellness programming will no longer be considered an added value, they will be considered a necessity by consumers in every market, in every demographic, from coast-to-coast. 

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The latest research states that industry leaders are looking for a fair price, the best possible quality, sustainable products and availability. People want to collaborate with those partners who share similar values and can differentiate their product offerings. They want a collaborator who helps them innovate and effectively market their business. To meet the market’s demand for living spaces that incorporate health and wellness, we see a much stronger emphasis on wellness in every aspect of the design process. This demand is not showing any signs of abating so we continue to encourage our peers to adopt design practices in order to meet customer’s evolving needs. Form & Function, Outdoor Connection, Sustainable Materials, Ideal Air Quality, Movement & Flow, Biophilia, Nourishment and, what we feel are the most important, Natural Light and Community, form the bedrock of holistic WELL Design. 

I believe that Community is the new amenity! I cannot stress enough the importance communal spaces have on human health. Relating to others in a livable, comfortable, beautiful and peaceful environment has unlimited value and numerous health benefits. During the past 14 months, human connection was sparse, and we all felt the effects of that scarcity. Community creates togetherness and, when a space is designed with that intention from the beginning, it is so impactful. Along with Community, designing with Natural Light in mind is equally important. In the same way Community connects people, Natural Light helps to connect spaces with the surrounding environment and, when implemented correctly, Natural Light brings its own sense of peace, beauty, comfort and livability to any space. 

“Spaces which include wellness programming will no longer be considered an added value, they will be considered a necessity by consumers in every market, in every demographic, from coast-to-coast.”

I also believe that designing with form, flexibility and function is a must. It is important that we have furnishings that are movable and can adapt to a space based on the needs of the residents. For example, we have a community space in one of our multifamily projects that was designed as a Wellness (meditation) Lounge. While we do see it being used as originally intended, residents have also been using it in many other functional ways such as: making conference calls in the meditation pods, using the space as an entertainment room, holding community education classes and as a reading lounge. This room became a hub for residents not just because of its Form & Function, but because it provided a sense of Community and Natural Light that organically made people want to spend time in that space. 

Our industry continues to experience a massive surge in production, and we are on a critical path in aligning our mission with the future and the “what’s next.” At some point we will hit a more normal pace, and it’s essential that these Wellness practices become ingrained now, as they will continue to be expected by consumers as we move forward in the future. 

Angela Harris is CEO and Principal of TRIO, a renowned interior architecture firm.