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From the tiny cubicles and bland colour schemes of the early 2000s to the ping-pong tables and sleeping pods of modern times, the interior design of offices has evolved dramatically in the past 20 years. At the beginning of a new year, and the start of a new decade, the focus of office interior design is shifting once again. Office interior design is now becoming more and more centred around the wellbeing of staff members.

Interior Design And Employee Wellbeing

Work is one of the biggest causes of stress in adults. In fact, national statistics from 2019 state that 602,000 people suffered from work-related stress, depression or anxiety in 2018/19 and 12.8 million workdays were lost due to the same reasons.

The rise of work-related stress and the emphasis on the importance of mental health has caused many businesses to re-evaluate the way in which they support their staff. Many businesses are aiming to actively improve the health and wellbeing of their employees.

Although improving the wellbeing of staff through interior design is not a new concept, it is becoming a very popular one. The working environment has a huge impact on the health and wellbeing of employees. A quality workspace that’s designed with health and wellbeing in mind can boost moods, increase productivity, reduce stress levels and nurture a positive atmosphere.

Office interior design by Rockwell Group
SBID Awards 2019 Finalist for Office Design by Rockwell Group

Natural Lighting Is Essential

Sunlight is good for our health. Our body needs Vitamin D, sunlight and a supply of fresh air daily to release endorphins and serotonin – the chemicals that boost our mood and give us energy.

However, for office workers, spending eight hours a day indoors is often unavoidable, which is why it is important to expose your office to as much natural daylight as possible.
When designing your office space, consider adding skylights or floor to ceiling windows. When considering the interior design, keep large furniture away from the windows as to not block out any light. Avoid dim lighting as this can strain eyes and try to avoid glare.

Consider The Flow Of The Office

Many businesses think they have to choose between two types of offices; an open-plan office or an office with enclosed spaces for privacy. When in reality, a combination of both will be more effective for staff wellbeing.

An open-plan layout encourages the movement of employees, which is great for increasing activity levels. In addition, an open-plan office will also encourage communication and teamwork. Adding smaller, private pods will be beneficial for those employees who prefer privacy and quiet when working. When improving the wellbeing of staff through interior design, you should also include a creative space for brainstorming and team meetings.

Top Tip: Whichever office layout you choose, remember to include space for water coolers. Having easy access to cold water is great for the health and wellbeing of employees.

Office interior design by Paragon Interface
SBID Awards 2019 Finalist for Office Design by Paragon Interface

Bring The Outdoors In

Studies show the wellness of employees who work in an environment enhanced with natural features is 15% higher than those who do not. Add natural elements to your office by having a variety of indoor plants or a living wall. Plants clean the air and are known to reduce stress levels, boost creativity and increase productivity. Perhaps you could even include an indoor flower garden. Another way to add natural elements to your office space is by choosing surfaces made from natural materials, such as wood and stone.

Choose The Right Colours

Different colours create different moods. Soft tones, such as a brown and terracotta are known to evoke feelings of warmth and relaxation, which is why they’re often found in bedrooms. Whereas bright colours, such as blues and oranges are known to energise and yellows are great for promoting creativity.

When improving employee wellbeing through interior design, you should carefully select the colours. Colours that stimulate productivity and creativity should be used in the office area and meeting rooms. Softer shades that evoke calming feelings should be used in break rooms and relaxation areas.

Areas Of Relaxation

To improve employee wellness and reduce stress levels, you should provide your employees with somewhere to relax. Unlike other break rooms, these areas of relaxation should be designed with peace and quiet in mind. Your employees should be able to meditate, read or simply relax away from the bustle of the office.

About the Author

Michael Lawrence is CEO at YourWellspace, a health and wellbeing tech start-up who focus on data-driven wellbeing for teams and workplaces.

This article was written by Michael Lawrence, CEO at YourWellspace.

Project of the Week: SBID Awards Finalists 2019

This week’s instalment of the #SBIDinspire interior design series features a modern fitness centre which proves that working out can be a stylish experience! The circular reception area is surrounded by wooden grids which curve towards the ceiling, meeting at the centre. This arresting design feature acts as a point of focus, creating instant visual intrigue as you enter into the space. A feeling of openness is created by circling multicoloured glass which is designed to divide (but not completely separate) internal spaces with its transparency. The glass panels also add an air modernity and vibrancy as the light shines through, casting colourful shadows. Huge semicircular lampshades and sturdy triangular prisms also punctuate the space. Other features include black iron artwork studded with metal rivets and cement walls clad in wood which come together to create an industrial aesthetic and evoke the feeling of strength.

SBID Awards: Healthcare and Wellness Design finalist sponsored by Stone Federation

Company: The XDH Design Firm 

Project: Five Fitsport

Location: Guangxi, China

What was the client’s brief? 

Five Fitsport is located on the fifth floor of the National Film City in Nanning ASEAN Business District, Guangxi. It is a fitness centre combining sports and leisure, with an area of 3578㎡.

Healthcare & Wellness Design by XDH Design Firm with Five Fitsport

What inspired the interior design of the project? 

The design inspiration of the project was to combine the strength of fitness with materials in the form of an industrial style, so as to express the theme of exercise. The space is interspersed with coloured ground glass, reflecting light and shadows to convey movement and the rhythm of the movement.

What was the toughest hurdle your team overcame during the project?

The most difficult obstacle to be overcome in the project was that the overall design needed to optimise the structure by combining the factors such as mechanics and considering the connection and grade of steel structures to achieve the practicability of the structure.

What was your team’s highlight of the project?

The highlight of the project is that the design scheme of the space is fully open plan but zoned in a creative way using coloured glass, so the design fits the modern yet industrial aesthetic with design elements which introduce colour and vibrancy. The special design feature of the suspended ceiling in the fitness area also adds to the visual focus.

Healthcare & Wellness Design by XDH Design Firm with Five Fitsport

Why did you enter the SBID Awards?

The SBID International Design Awards is one of the most prestigious and interesting activities in the industry, and the competition is also very fierce. Participating in such a competition has been a very interesting and valuable experience for us!

Questions answered by Denver Hsu, Chief designer at The XDH Design Firm

If you missed last week’s Project of the Week featuring SBID Award winners for the sustainable retail design for cosmetic brand, Lush with the opening of their largest global store in Liverpool, click here to see more.

We hope you feel inspired by this week’s Healthcare and Wellness design! Let us know what inspired you #SBIDinspire

SBID Awards 2019 | Healthcare & Wellness Design finalist sponsored by Stone Federation

Workplace gurus have in recent years enjoyed looking through the generational lens to help predict behaviours and changes effecting corporate interior design. The impact that millennial’s have made upon the workplace for example, assisting organisations move from hierarchies to networks, has been significant. Attention is now being paid to the current school and university population – Gen Z or iGen (internet generation) born after 2000 and the suggestion is that technology impacts on design could continue to be profound.

SBID Education Council expert, Jim Taylour, Head of Design and Wellbeing at Orangebox sheds light on how workplaces and educational institutions should be adapting to suit this new wave of technology-fuelled behaviours.

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Can nature really increase our health and wellbeing? SBID Council expert, Oliver Heath is a qualified Domestic Energy and Green Deal Assessor who founded an architectural and interior design practice combining sustainability, consumer engagement and communications to inspire the uptake of future thinking in the built environment. He promotes happier, healthier places to live and work through his projects as designer, writer, and TV presenter. Oliver shares his thoughts with SBID on how Biophilic Design in interiors can impact health and wellbeing. 

There is a growing body of evidence to suggest spending time in nature can increase our health and wellbeing. In fact, healthcare experts are now prescribing time in nature to alleviate symptoms of depression and anxiety. However, we are spending less than 10% of our time outside,[i] and most of the time we do get to spend outside is still in the urban environment. So, what can we do when our day to day lives don’t support getting out into nature?

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SBID Members, Bespoke by Evans use their expertise in the art of tailored textiles to comment on how bespoke fabric design can enhance care environments and contribute to improving wellbeing, engagement and style within an interior design. 

Designing bespoke textiles for care home environments is far more complicated than simply making fabrics look pretty. Unique textile designs that are tailored to specified interior design projects go beyond simply the look of a design and incorporate the everyday needs and demands of modern care. Guests, residents and staff alike are all important considerations whilst also addressing the specific age, mobility, sight, hearing and memory the care home cater to.

Whilst the style and aesthetic are still important (especially when relatives are going through the process of finding the right home for a loved one and first impressions count), substance and practicality need to be provided. Of course, as an easy option, a generic interior fabric from the many pattern books available to an interior designer could be chosen for a care home, but it raises the question, “will a generically designed fabric better support staff and help residents enhance their lives, each and every day?”

Home away from home

Each care home is different and so too is every resident. A bespoke fabric designs allows for the flexibility to adapt surroundings to specific needs; chairs, cushions, curtains, bedding and more can reflect desired characteristics within the care environment whilst overall, enhance the personality of a property. There is a strong public misconception of care homes being outdated or clinical, but with the ability to create any design, pattern or colour, a care home can easily be made into a ‘home-away-from-home’. In recent times, there has been a strong emphasis to create domestic-like appearances in care. This domestic-like appearance may help with the transition into care and also help residents to understand their new surroundings – what better way to make a space feel like a home by allowing a personal touch with a bespoke design?

A bespoke textile design will offer endless possibilities. Whatever your inspiration, it can be become a finished fabric. Stimulating textures, rich colours and contrasting patterns on bespoke fabrics can be used in private rooms or communal areas giving a coordinating warm look across a care home. Previous research suggest that colour has a profound impact on wellbeing; with bright colours leading the way in helping us feel energised. Designs married to these colourways can help us engage in everyday activities, remind us of the times gone-by or boost well-being through a more personalised approach.

Bespoke fabric design blog by Bespoke by Evans featuring Evans Textiles bedroom scheme armchair detail
Bespoke Fabric

Safety and comfort

Style is nothing without substance. Every fabric that is used for soft furnishings within a care environment has a requirement to meet the British Standards. Every care home has a duty of care to ensure everything in their power is done to reduce the risk of fire and improve the safety of their guests, staff and residents alike. A simple change to inherently flame retardant, British Standard certified fabrics will reduce the fire risk in any environment and can be coupled up with a multitude of designs through a bespoke fabric design service.

The considerations of a bespoke design on flame retardant fabric may encourage residents to retain and indeed regain some independence, help address impairments associated with old age and promote positive emotions through visual stimulants. A good example of when bespoke designed flame-retardant fabrics can provide both safety and comfort is on the chairs and sofas around a care home. As an everyday piece of furniture, chairs and sofas are an imperative soft furnishing item. The fabrics used as such, should offer prevention from any long-lasting damage that could be caused by accidents; easily wipeable, waterproof and durable. Having breathable fabrics will also be much more comfortable for residents when they are sat for prolonged periods of time. With the possibility of being able to get any designs printed and upholstered onto a chair, residents can benefit from contrasting coloured panels to help remind people with cognitive loss of where to sit, help reduce confusion and lessen any distress.

Other benefits of specialist healthcare fabrics may include infection control with anti-bacterial properties, blackout or dimout fabrics offering optimal light entry/exclusion and the ability to easily disinfect and wipe down the fabrics.

Choosing the right specialist fabrics

Selecting the right fabrics that are ‘fit for purpose’ and the right textile design partner is of paramount importance if you wish to enhance not only the look but the wellbeing of a care home environment. At Bespoke by Evans, our highest priority is you and your client. We’re able to offer a dedicated textile designer to deliver artwork catered to your next interior design care project. In doing so, we will help you create comfort, safety and wellbeing for the residents.

Whether your next care home project is a simple refresh or a full renovation or new build, we’re happy to deliver on your brief and budget. We take the hassle and time out of looking through generic pattern books and we would never ask you to settle on a design that you aren’t completely happy with. We offer our expertise, so you get the exact design that meets your clients’ requirements. Our bespoke fabric design service is tried and tested amongst some of the UK’s leading interior design agencies and offer care homes stand out, one-of-a-kind fabrics for their guests, residents and staff alike.

Bespoke by Evans are a proud SBID partner and unlike other bespoke fabric services, the initial design concept is completely free of charge. There are zero charges on fabric samples and no bulk commitments on orders – you can order from as little as 10 metres per design or colourway. To find out more or request a complimentary brochure visit www.bespokebyevans.com or call 0161 320 2121.

For our series following wellness in interiors, SBID spoke with Interior Architect and Creative Director, Ann-marie Weekes, who’s extensive 17-year career in Interior Design and Architecture saw her amongst William Russell’s Architectural team designing Alexander McQueen’s international boutiques; working on multi-million pound projects from M&S’s environmentally sustainable flagship store in Cheshire Oaks, to Dunhill’s grade 2 listed Bourdon House in Mayfair. She also works very closely with the Orassy in London, who have an Integrative Medical Doctor and health practitioners who seek to understand the complex nature of ill health, whether it be mental, physical, emotional or environmental. With experience in both the interiors and the wellness sectors, Ann-marie shared her thoughtful perspective on introducing concepts of wellness and interior wellbeing into the designs of our homes to in turn, help us improve and remove toxicity from our modern day lifestyles. . .

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With June being Employee Wellbeing Month, our focus turns to interior wellness and how interior design can aid in mental and physical wellbeing. We’ve brought together views and opinions from across interior design to discuss the thought process, its importance at the early stage of planning and how these processes create positive environments for employees and in-turn generating better business.

Design factors such as colour, lighting, acoustics, air quality, furnishings and architectural design can have an impact on the health, performance and engagement to those occupying the space. “Designers are masters of subliminal communication” says Michaela Jones, Director of Chroma Flooring . . . .

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