Creating a Haven

‘Wellness-Centric Design’ is a hot topic amongst interior designers, fit-out companies, and workplace academics.

In the ever-evolving landscape of workplace dynamics, companies are increasingly recognising the importance of prioritising employee well-being. As a result, there has been a significant shift towards integrating wellness-centric design principles into office spaces. From ergonomic furniture to biophilic elements, the focus is now on fostering environments that promote physical health, mental well-being, and productivity. Here we look into the emerging trends and strategies of wellness-centric design in contemporary office settings.

It’s also known as:

  1. Health-Focused Design
  2. Well-Being-Oriented Design
  3. Holistic Design
  4. Human-Centric Design
  5. Employee Wellness Design
  6. Healthy Workplace Design
  7. Well-Being Design Approach
  8. Human Wellness Design Strategy
  9. Employee Health and Happiness Design
  10. Occupational Wellness Design

man walking on stairs

Understanding Wellness-Centric Design

Wellness-centric design revolves around the concept of creating spaces that support and enhance the health and happiness of individuals who inhabit them. It encompasses various elements, including ergonomic considerations, access to natural light, indoor air quality, and opportunities for physical activity and relaxation. The ultimate goal is to cultivate an environment that contributes to the holistic well-being of employees, thereby boosting morale, creativity, and overall performance.

Ergonomics: Putting Comfort First

One of the fundamental aspects of wellness-centric design is prioritising ergonomic principles in office furniture and layout. Ergonomically designed chairs, adjustable desks, and proper lighting help mitigate the risk of musculoskeletal disorders and promote good posture. By providing employees with comfortable and supportive workstations, companies can reduce the likelihood of chronic pain and fatigue, leading to increased focus and productivity.

Biophilic Design: Bringing Nature Indoors

Incorporating elements of biophilic design is another key trend in wellness-centric office spaces. Biophilia, the innate human tendency to seek connections with nature, can be harnessed through features such as indoor plants, green walls, and natural materials like wood and stone. Not only do these elements improve air quality and aesthetics, but they also have a calming effect, reducing stress levels and enhancing overall well-being.

Office panels

Lighting and Acoustics: Balancing Stimuli

Effective management of lighting and acoustics is crucial for creating a conducive work environment. Natural light not only reduces the reliance on artificial sources but also regulates circadian rhythms, promoting better sleep and mood regulation. Similarly, strategic acoustic design, incorporating sound-absorbing materials and layout configurations, helps minimise distractions and fosters concentration and productivity.

Spaces for Movement and Relaxation

Recognising the importance of physical activity and mental breaks, modern offices are incorporating dedicated spaces for movement and relaxation. This may include wellness rooms for meditation or yoga, recreational areas with games and lounge furniture, and even on-site fitness facilities. Encouraging employees to take regular breaks and engage in activities that promote relaxation and stress relief can have significant benefits for their overall well-being and productivity.

woman in white tank top and pink leggings doing yoga

Technology Integration: Supporting Flexibility

Technology plays a crucial role in enabling flexible work arrangements, which have become increasingly prevalent in today’s workplace. From adjustable standing desks to collaborative digital platforms, incorporating technology that supports mobility and remote collaboration enhances employee satisfaction and work-life balance. By providing the tools and infrastructure for seamless connectivity, companies can empower their workforce to thrive in diverse work environments.

The History of Wellness-Centric Design

The history of wellness-centric design is a relatively recent phenomenon, emerging as a response to evolving understandings of the relationship between the built environment and human well-being. While elements of wellness-focused design can be traced back to ancient architectural principles centred around harmony and balance, the modern concept has evolved in tandem with advancements in scientific research and shifts in societal attitudes towards health and wellness.

Early Influences:

  • Ancient Civilisations: Ancient civilisations such as the Greeks and Romans recognised the importance of architectural design in promoting well-being. Elements like natural light, ventilation, and access to green spaces were incorporated into structures like temples, bathhouses, and gardens to enhance physical and mental health.
  • Early 20th Century: The early 20th century saw the emergence of movements like the Arts and Crafts movement and the Bauhaus school, which prioritised functionality, simplicity, and connection to nature in design. Figures like Frank Lloyd Wright emphasised the integration of architecture with its natural surroundings, laying the groundwork for biophilic design principles.

two brown columns in front of ruins


Evolution in Modern Times:

  • Post-World War II: The post-World War II era witnessed rapid industrialization and urbanisation, leading to the rise of office buildings and corporate environments. However, concerns about the impact of these environments on employee health and well-being began to surface, prompting researchers and designers to explore ways to create healthier workspaces.
  • 1970s and 1980s: The 1970s and 1980s saw the emergence of ergonomic design principles aimed at improving workplace comfort and reducing musculoskeletal injuries. Concepts like adjustable furniture, proper lighting, and workstation layout gained traction as companies recognised the link between employee comfort and productivity.
  • 21st Century: The 21st century marked a significant shift towards a more holistic approach to design, encompassing not only physical health but also mental and emotional well-being. With mounting evidence highlighting the impact of factors like stress, noise, and air quality on employee performance, employers have begun to invest in wellness-centric design strategies to create healthier and more supportive work environments.

Contemporary Trends:

  • Biophilic Design: The integration of natural elements like plants, water features, and natural light into indoor spaces has gained prominence, inspired by research demonstrating the positive effects of nature on well-being and productivity.
  • Flexible Workspaces: The rise of remote work and flexible work arrangements has led to a rethinking of traditional office layouts, with an emphasis on adaptable spaces that cater to diverse workstyles and activities.
  • Technology Integration: Advancements in technology have facilitated the development of innovative solutions for promoting wellness in the workplace, from apps that encourage movement and mindfulness to smart building systems that optimise indoor environmental quality.

Future Outlook:

As our understanding of human health and well-being continues to evolve, so too will the principles and practices of wellness-centric design. With an increasing focus on issues like mental health, social connectedness, and environmental sustainability, the future of workplace design is likely to prioritise holistic approaches that address the multifaceted needs of employees in an ever-changing world.

Wellness-centric design represents a paradigm shift in how we conceptualise and create office spaces. By prioritising the physical and mental well-being of employees, companies not only demonstrate their commitment to their workforce but also reap the rewards of increased productivity, creativity, and employee retention. As the importance of employee wellness continues to gain recognition, integrating these principles into office design will become not just a trend but a necessity for success in the modern workplace landscape.