A recent trip to Morocco had me inspired by so many things. Colours, patterns, materials, textiles. Some of my favourite photos...
Considerations when designing a space for a health, wellness and relaxation:
When designing a space for a wellness facility whether it is a spa, clinic, gym or gathering place the first thing that the user will notice is their comfort level. Is the lighting pleasing and relaxing, is the temperature comfortable, is there sufficient way-finding, does it smell nice, is there loud noises or comforting sounds. All these sensory experiences will have an impact on the user creating a pleasant or unpleasant experience. The entrance should be inviting and calming. Water features create a visual and audio sensory effect that evokes nature and induce relaxation. Indirect dim lighting along with natural materials will aid in creating a relaxing environment. Plants and natural materials like stone and wood will bring a connection with nature.
The use of materials is important to create a healthy space for healing, relaxation and wellness. First and foremost the materials and finishes must be non-toxic. No off gassing or toxic fumes. The materials should have natural properties, look and feel. Finishes can be rustic or sleek and modern but they should not interfere or compete with the users requirement for relaxation to promote healing. Sound is important so surfaces should be softened with rugs or fabric panels to reduce noise vibration. Natural stone looks excellent and creates a natural look and feel. Polished stone will create louder spaces. If the space is large, split faced stone can deflect sound within the space. Precious stones and crystals can add hidden meaning.
Lighting is so important to add emphasis in areas of importance and to create soothing and relaxing spaces where needed. Indirect lighting is an effective way to create a nice ambience while still illuminating the space as required for functionality. Accent lighting can be used to emphasize the materials and finishes. Signage should be well lit.
Lanterns can create soft lighting and play with shadows which can make a space feel more comfortable and intimate. Lighting can create a focal point and interest on an otherwise plain surface.
If the space is a gym or activity area, brighter colour or coloured lighting can energize the space. Colours can be effective and invoking emotion and therefore creating energy.
THE FLOOR PLAN & WAYFINDING
Confusion creates stress. The space should be easy navigate. Planning and signage are key to create simplicity for the user to experience the space. Whether small or large the plan can be centred upon a hub, for example a relaxation area, or it can be successional spaces. As long as the flow is consistent and is not confusing. There is nothing worse then getting lost in a twisting hallway with too many doors. The plan should be intuitive and thoughtful. Waiting and relaxation areas should be quiet and not adjacent to busy spaces. If possible a separation between staff areas and public areas creates more of a stress free atmosphere for guests.
Designing Inside the Box 2009