#8 Defining luxury – how wellness spaces are evolving

    560 315 Hamish Kilburn
    #8 Defining luxury – how wellness spaces are evolving

    In our next Hotel Designs LAB report, which is fuelled by Arigami and supported by AXOR and Hansgrohe, we speak to leading visionaries to understand the flowing trend of luxury water-related spaces…

    The latest Hotel Designs LAB report has been born following the slow yet steady evolution of what consumers understand luxury to mean to them. In an 18-page report, Hotel Designs, Arigami and a team of contributors explores the new pillars that are helping designers redefine their approach to water-related spaces.

    Meet the contributors: 

    • Steffen Erath, Head of Sustainability & Innovation, Hansgrohe Group
    • Anke Sohn, Head of Global Marketing, AXOR
    • Hamish Kilburn, Editor, Hotel Designs
    • Benjamin Holzer, Head of Product Management, AXOR
    • Phillipe Starck, Founder, STARCK
    • Ari Peralta, Founder and CEO, Arigami

    Designing in tune with nature will be the new maker of how we view luxury in our eco-friendly and health-conscious society. To do this, it is important for designers to understand the environmental image of each design choice and how it sits within a circular economy.

    The new pillars around luxury, identified in the report, are:

    • Simplicity
    • Transparency
    • Materiality
    • Longevity

    In addition to understanding the science, the paper also explored the Hansgrohe Group EcoSmart Technology as an example of a forward-thinking tech-savvy product, which consumes up to 60 per cent less water, that is meeting consumer’s demands for luxury, wellness and sustainability in 2022.

    The report concludes with the idea that sustainability is just as important in the bathroom as in any other space in the hotel, suggesting that designers, architects and hotel experts should consider making meaningful changes with the whole property in mind.

    Main image credit: The Hansgrohe Group. AXOR conscious shower designed by Philippe Starck

    Coloured smoke (blue and pink)

    #7 Circadian lighting: rethinking our relationship with time & light

    1024 640 Hamish Kilburn
    #7 Circadian lighting: rethinking our relationship with time & light

    Circadian lighting and science is shaping the way in which hotel buildings are created and designed. Inside, lighting is altering how guests use and journey through spaces, as well as how they experience wellness. In our latest article in the Hotel Designs Lab series, Ari Peralta, Founder of Arigami, interviews Dr. Helga Schmid, circadian artist and author…

    Coloured smoke (blue and pink)

    For thousands of years, before the development of artificial lighting, our ancestors’ days were ruled by the rising and setting of the sun. And even after centuries of technological advancement and societal change altered our lives immeasurably, our human biology still bears the stamp of that rhythm.

    Over the last 15 years, there has been a substantial growth in our understanding of circadian science and human chronobiology. New scientific insight continues to transform the way in which we create, engage with and appreciate lighting itself. In contrast with our always-on society, Dr. Helga Schmid’s work invites guests to slow down, disconnect from the burden of time and realign with nature’s flow.

    Helga is an author, lecturer and artist, and the founder of Uchronia (time utopia), a platform for critical and imaginative thought on our contemporary time crisis, challenging current perceptions and offering alternative ways of being in time. In her work, she creates immersive installations, time-based performances and temporal experiences.

    She partnered with Somerset House to develop an innovative 24-hour event that ran from sunset to sunset. Guests were invited to interact with installations, conversations, performances and recordings designed around the seven stages of human circadian rhythms (sleep, wake-up, concentration, nap, movement, intuitive, sleepiness).

    Image caption: Dr. Helga Schmid, Circadian Artist and Author.

    Image caption: Dr. Helga Schmid, Circadian Artist and Author. | Image credit: Circadian Dreams / Francisco Ibáñez Hantke

    Ari Peralta: What is circadian wellness and why should designers, architects and hoteliers take notice?

    Helga Schmid: Circadian wellness is a concept based on the human body clock. It’s related to the human circadian rhythm, from Latin circa and dies, ‘around a day’. The circadian rhythm is a biological rhythm that touches every aspect of health and wellbeing. Your body clock can tell you what is the best time for concentration, creative thinking, physical exercise, up to when to get the best quality of sleep. However, often people’s lives today are dominated by clock time and a fast-paced societal rhythm. They experience a high, external time pressure throughout the day and have lost their natural relationship to their body clock.

    Circadian wellness is about the rediscovery of your own, individual body rhythm. For instance, some people need five hours of sleep, some eleven hours, and not every day is the same. Often the sleep patterns change slightly on an individual basis from day to day in relation to your age, gender and genes. Circadian wellness is the key to a healthy lifestyle. Our circadian rhythm is related to the experience of every aspect of our lives: how much we concentrate, how easily we fall asleep, how we experience pain, or how imaginative we are in our thinking. If we are in sync with our body clock, we can be present in the moment and significantly improve the quality of our lived experience.

    “In order to improve circadian wellness, we need to open up the window of time and allow guests to be independent of clock time. We need temporal flexibility in terms of service, and modularity in lighting and spatial design.” – Dr. Helga Schmid, Circadian Artist and Author.

    AP: How has your interdisciplinary education and experience shaped your work?

    HS: I have a background as a designer, artist, researcher and educator. Currently, I am a resident at Somerset House and Acting Programme Director of Graphic Design Education at London College of Communication. In 2019 I was honoured as one of “London’s Most Influential People 2019 in AR/ VR” by a national news organisation.

    In 2018/19 I was designer in residence at the Design Museum in London. My design and artistic practice has won awards and shown internationally on a variety of platforms, for instance at the Dia Art Foundation NY, Istanbul Design Biennial 2018, Z33 – House for Contemporary Art in Belgium, the Design Museum, V&A Museum, and Whitechapel Gallery in London; and published by BBC, e-flux, Blueprint and Dezeen.

    Prior to teaching, I was a researcher in the architecture and design department at the Museum of Modern Art. I have received international awards, including the Type Directors Award and a Fulbright and a DAAD scholarship. I hold a master’s degree from the School of Visual Arts in New York as well as a PhD from the Royal College of Art in London.

    Circular light above bed in blue and orange

    Image credit: Arigami. | Image credit: Circadian Dreams / Francisco Ibáñez Hantke

    AP: Where do you draw inspiration from?

    HS: My work is situated at the intersection of art, design and science. I find it very inspiring to collaborate and work with people coming from very different fields and engage with their ways of working and perspectives on the world. This reaches from chronobiologists, architects, sociologists, philosophers, up to lighting designers or food stylists. It inspires me to discover human and non-human approaches by exploring the multiverse of rhythms of plants, mushrooms and animals, as well as immersing myself into a diverse range of temporal cultures across the globe. For instance, in June I am going on a clock-free research trip to the Norwegian island of Sommarøy – in 2019 they declared it a Time Free Zone. As it never gets dark from May to July, they started a synchronisation experiment without using any clocks.

    AP: What is Uchronia?

    HS: Uchronia is a platform for critical and imaginative thought about our contemporary time crisis, challenging current perceptions and offering alternative ways of being in time. The original concept derives from ‘utopia’. In the same manner as utopia, uchronia is defined as ‘no time’ or ‘non-time’ from the Greek ‘ou-chronos’. The word uchronia was first used by the French philosopher Charles Bernard Renouvier in his novel Uchronie (L’Utopie dans l’histoire) in 1876. In my work, I explore the term from a different perspective – that is, uchronia as a temporal utopia. I ask how we can think about time outside of the norms of clocks and calendars. Uchronia advocates temporal freedom, wellbeing and social change, promoting a positive relationship with, and experience of, time in the now and the long now.

    AP: How could the Uchronia platform be used to improve hotel guest wellness?

    HS: Contemporary life is dictated by external time-givers (clock time, day-night rhythm), but what happens if we concentrate on our body and our individual time signature, and design a hotel based on the circadian rhythm?

    In my installations and performances, the space acts as a clock. A day is divided into seven different phases based on peak daily times for logical reasoning, concentration, muscle strength, up to melatonin secretion and highest body temperature. A light and sound scape as well as the interior design relates to your body phases, with a bright blue tone that activates you, an intensive red-orange which make you sleepy, and darkness which brings you to a sleep/dream state.

    By introducing the uchronian concept to the typology of a hotel, the guests are invited to rediscover and experience their own body clocks in a unique way. The traditional spatial design of living rooms and bedrooms becomes irrelevant when the bodily rhythm provides new criteria for wellbeing.

    A woman with red hair sleeping next to man

    Image credit: Arigami

    AP: Do you have any recommendations on how to apply circadian science insights to improve guest experience?

    HS: Spaces/rooms are currently designed to be used for multiple purposes and throughout different times of the day. But how flexible are they to adjust to the ideal conditions in relation to the individual body rhythm of their guests? For instance, natural light is the most influential time-giver to synchronise the internal to the external day for the human body. By designing lighting in hotels in relation to the circadian rhythm and offering a variety of lighting solutions, each guest can explore their own needs independent of clock time. The same is true for the interior design, food services, special treatments, etc. We are all different chronotypes (eg. ‘owls’ and ‘larks’) and if we allow ourselves to relax and not use an alarm clock, we start and end the day at different clock times.

    > Since you’re here, why not read our exclusive report on circadian lighting, in association with Franklite?

    Arigami is a research and innovation consultancy focused on wellbeing. We help our partners strategise, validate and measure wellbeing. We believe the industry must evolve, and with nimble research, we can maximise the impact of wellbeing strategies. It’s time to work together to transform hospitality into the leading industry combating anxiety and stress and improving the health of travellers globally.

    Main image credit: Unsplash

    Woman lying in a greenery

    #3 Biophilic design 2.0 – from living walls to living hotels

    730 565 Hamish Kilburn
    #3 Biophilic design 2.0 – from living walls to living hotels

    For article three in the Hotel Designs LAB series, Hotel Designs and Arigami explore wellbeing through the lens of biophilic design. Founder of Arigami Ari Peralta and editor Hamish Kilburn compile the thoughts of biophilic design expert Oliver Heath and environmental psychology researcher Nigel Oseland to explore the science of nature in design…

    Woman lying in a greenery

    Biophilic design is much more than adding plants to a space, it is a strategy for developing a multi-sensory relationship with the world around us. It is at the cross-section between the sustainability movement, wellness and human-centered design. It refers to the design practice of connecting people and nature within our built environments and communities.

    The fundamental goal of biophilic design is to create a thriving habitat for people as biological organisms inhabiting modern structures. Regardless of your affinity for the word itself, we know that biophilic design works, and what we are proposing here are ways to create a shift in behaviour towards a more biophilic and sustainable future in Hospitality. Simply put, we need more ‘nature’ in our hotels. According to the latest research, the majority of our population now lives in urban environments and spends 90 per cent of their time indoors, with little access to nature. This isolation has led to increased mental and chronic physical health problems.

    Biophilic design is a potential solution to some of these issues, however, its use in practice is still limited and widely misunderstood. Now more than ever, hotel guests are seeking spaces that are cleaner, calmer, and more restoring. In this article we will expand definitions and unfold the latest research supporting nature integration, enabling the industry to evolve its thinking from living walls to living hotels.

    Helping us unfold the current practice of biophilic design and identifying barriers to implementation are biophilic designer Oliver Heath, and environmental psychologist and researcher Nigel Oseland. Each of them helped us shape our article with the aim of unlocking key actionable design insights.

    Together we explored:

    • Biomimetic Architecture
    • Sustainability and Wellbeing
    • Affective Response to Architecture
    • Technobiophilia
    Large hotel atrium with living walls

    Image credit: Pixabay

    Biomimetic Architecture is on the rise

    “For billions of years nature (animals, plants, and even microbes) has been solving many of the problems we are still dealing with today” says Nigel Oseland. Each has found what works, what is appropriate, and what lasts. Biomimicry and biomimetics come from the Greek words bios, meaning life, and mimesis, also meaning to imitate. We define biomimicry as the science and art of emulating nature’s best biological ideas to solve human problems. Oseland points out that biophilia is a broad term that also encompasses sound, temperature, ventilation and other environmental factors.

    “Biophilia is much more than plants and greenery, it’s also about the diversity of furniture, sounds, temperature, materials and spaces that can support occupants every need.”

    According to architect and designer Oliver Heath, Biomimetic architecture is now on the rise. Therefore, discovering its potential is vital. For designers, biology offers many valuable lessons. Think about it, nature develops a kind of ‘practical regionalism’, the belief that architecture should reflect the geography and culture of its setting. “The challenge is that research is relatively academic,” says Heath. “These studies whilst they peak one’s interest, it’s not enough. Our job is to translate the value of these findings to our customer”.

    Now is the time to learn, experiment and prototype. Heath recommends starting with selecting a zone that can be measured against a comparable sample space. And look at the difference between them. When thinking like nature, the questions we must ask ourselves include:

    • How would nature solve green building challenges?
    • What are examples of nature’s solutions to these problems?
    • What is the most energy efficient way of solving these problems?
    • How does life make the most of things?
    • How does life make things disappear into systems?

    Humans have always looked to nature for inspiration to solve problems. Leonardo da Vinci even applied biomimicry to the study of birds in the hope of enabling human flight which later led to airplane design. Applied biomimicry can be utilised in three ways or in a combination of these three ways:

    • Form – such as mimicking natural structures
    • Processes – such as mimicking natural processes
    • Systems – such as mimicking self-regulating ecosystems

    Don’t forget that sustainability and wellbeing are measurable

    We need to upgrade our buildings by upgrading our thinking. The importance of sustainability in the hospitality industry has come of age. What was initially considered by some as a checklist exercise has become a major design requirement. The potential environmental impact of hospitality projects is now central to the design and specification process. More recently, environmental considerations have focused on the impact that buildings have on the health and wellbeing of their guests.

    Sustainable or Green design is an architectural movement that has gained a lot of momentum in recent years. It has been growing steadily since the turn of the century. Industry standards such as BREEAM, LEED and the WELL Building Standard are ways of making sure we consider these elements together, rather than in isolation. “Now we have to demonstrate the ROI related to a more human-centered approach”, added Heath.

    While the main focus of sustainability is still largely on the environment, which includes making structures as energy and water efficient as possible. However, there has been a new branch of the green building movement that has gained traction as of late. This new sustainability trend is known as the healthy building movement.

    It takes a holistic design approach that considers the construction of a building and its inhabitants as deeply intertwined. So in essence this new wave of wellbeing is intrinsically connected to our growing appreciation for sustainable initiatives. “With the rise in chronic illness, and mental health awareness also comes environmental awareness” says Oseland. We’ve ignored it for too long. Architects have always been conscious of this notion but there still remains a disconnect with engineering components and also with management. Oseland points out that we need to go back to a more natural way of approaching spaces and people.

    From a design perspective, Heath mentioned that he faced initial resistance from clients wanting to adopt these ideas because he wasn’t speaking the language that was important to the client. “We had to shift from saying ‘saving the earth’, to ‘save your employees’, to ‘save yourself’,” concluded Heath.

    Affective response to architecture is real

    Architecture can inspire human behaviour in positive and negative ways such as the health and wellbeing of humans, as well as human performance. Oseland points out that our brain hasn’t caught up to our digital world. Thanks to evolutionary psychology we’ve learned about the sounds, views and parameters in which we function the best in. “Something as simple as daylight can make a significant difference on our circadian rhythms which can influence our hormones,” says Oseland. Because of this, the human mind and body function with improved efficiency when natural elements are present. Hotel guests tend to spend a large part of their hotel stay inside designed spaces whether it is in-room or lobby spaces, and less of their time in open-aired, natural environments which have a greater effect on guest behaviour.

    Nature has powerfully engaged the mind with ‘involuntary fascination’, which helps restore directed attention and focus. According to Oseland, the result is an effortless mindfulness that promotes stress reduction and renewal while also stimulating curiosity and imagination. The benefits of biophilia span many sectors. Biophilic design optimises productivity, healing time, learning functions, and community cohesion as the perfect partnering mechanism for business vendors, hospital owners, school administrators, contractors, and city planners alike who are seeking to reap maximal value through development and design.

    “Hotels need to evolve around measurement and validation. Learning is key to effective design.”

    Integration of green architecture is something Heath has worked on for decades. He strongly believes that green hotel design cultivates a community of guests that are more aware and invested in a long-term shift toward generations that are healthier, more productive, and more connected to nature. According to Heath, the latest research clearly shows the benefits of biophilia include improved stress recovery rates, lower blood pressure, improved cognitive functions, enhanced mental stamina and focus, decreased violence and criminal activity, elevated moods, and increased learning rates.

    For example, biophilic design’s emphasis on plant life has a direct impact on a building’s air quality. Plants are natural air purifiers, turning carbon dioxide into oxygen, so increasing the amount of plant life in an environment improves air quality. Another way biophilic design elements can impact air quality is through material choices. Using natural or environmentally friendly, biodegradable materials such as wood or bamboo prevent off-gassing, the release of chemicals from materials.

    Waterfall coming out of phone

    Image credit: Pixabay

    Technobiophilia, an alternative to nature as we know it

    There are many ways biophilic elements can be incorporated into a hotel space depending on the environment. Taking a virtual tour of a park or decorating guest rooms with digital plants can’t replace the health benefits of actually spending time outdoors. But when getting outside isn’t an option, experts say there are benefits to these alternatives. Technology is changing our relationship with nature as we know it.

    Technological nature or ‘Technobiphilia’ has its benefits; engaging with it makes us feel good by triggering our innate ‘biophilia’. For example, researchers have found that nature videos played in hospitals drastically reduced pain amongst patients, suggesting nature’s relaxing influence translates through screens. Additional studies in healthcare have shown that people who have access to technological nature or organic design elements indoors experience less stress, improved mood and increased cognitive function.

    “Biophilic design is much more than a single touch point in someone’s day. We have to think at a broader scale.”

    Digital nature could also help with feelings of loneliness. A 2018 University of Washington study showed that university professors who worked in an office with a 50-inch plasma TV that depicted restorative nature scenes —serving, essentially, as a digital window— reported feeling connected to the outdoors and to the wider social community.

    Everyone will have to try different approaches and seek what works best for them. People need to interact with actual nature. After 20 years of consulting and 10 years of research, Oseland has come to the conclusion that people are very different and that the only way to provide for them is by offering variety and choice.

    What’s ahead?

    “As designers we must ask ourselves how do we measure the value we bring to a client?”

    The world of travel and hotel designs is fundamentally changing. What if we could experience the same physical, psychological, and emotional benefits moving through a hotel that we experience walking through a forest? What if we could right our relationship with nature by transforming the hospitality environment in a way that ensures buildings function in harmony with the natural world?

    It can be very easy to think of hotel design in black and white terms; instead it is as colourful and multisensory as nature itself. Biophilic design helps people feel like they have spaces in which to settle, explore, adapt and be creative. These benefits build stronger connections and foster better collaboration, as well as trust in the ability to reinvigorate the industry. While our affinity for potted plants is a good start, it’s a mere gesture of what’s ahead for hospitality with exciting new initiatives in thermal, acoustics and circadian lighting design.

    While you’re here, why not read our feature on safe design and guest emotional wellness?

    Arigami is a research and innovation consultancy focused on wellbeing. We help our partners strategise, validate and measure wellbeing. We believe the industry must evolve, and with nimble research, we can maximise the impact of wellbeing strategies. It’s time to work together to transform hospitality into the leading industry combating anxiety and stress and improving the health of travellers globally.

    Main image credit: Pixabay