DESIGNING THE WORKPLACE OF THE FUTURE: Mind Full, or Mindful?

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Space Is Place: Good design is mindfulness in action

By Susan Mulholland and Charlie Grantham Ph.D.

Inside Job

Mindfulness as well as wellness, which go hand in hand, are two of the current buzz words being used these days in everything from corporate slogans to phone apps. We are all trying to achieve the best we can by being more aware. Our interior spaces, the places where we humans spend most of our time need to do the same. Wellness should be thought of as the process and mindfulness as the action; particularly in the area of interior design.

Our interiors usually reflect our personality. Our homes are filled with what makes us comfortable. Our work spaces maybe not so much; but that is changing. As more people see what they do as an occupation as an extension of who they truly are, our office or work spaces need to do the same. Creating spaces that are designed for mindfulness will ultimately be designed for our well being.

Sense of Place

As house is to space, home is to place.

Our interior spaces whether it is for work, play or living are meant to be places of activity. If that activity is to be social, productive or to rest, we need to create interiors that provoke those activities instead of hindering them. Everyone has their own ideas on what works and what doesn’t, that is why personal space is so important for everyone. We all decide what we like and what we don’t like at an early age. Our personal space is sacred; we very rarely want to be challenged on what we see as an extension of ourselves; our place. Since place is usually considered something real that we can experience with all of our physical senses we need to make sure it supports all of who we are.

The collective spaces or the spaces we share with others are a different story. Many times, we are in conflict with someone else’s ideas on what works and what doesn’t.  Interior designers know this first hand, especially when the you consider the costs involved. The cost of recreating a viable place is not just monetary, it can also be very emotional. If you ever have remodeled a room in your home with your spouse, you know what we are talking about!

By Design

Emotions both good and bad can be directly related to the interior environment you are in, so is your sense of wellness. if you think about the places that make you happy or feel healthier you know what we are talking about. Your favorite hotel, fitness club or restaurant is great not just because of the location, the activity, or the food, because when you walk in you immediately have an emotional response. The colors, furniture, lighting, acoustics and artwork all are there to provoke a reaction. It’s designed for that purpose. Not everyone is in tune to the design clues mentioned, but research is proving that the choices we make for the design of our interiors from the paint on the walls to the furniture we use have a direct affect on the experience we will have while in that space.  

So how do create a space that not only provides the emotional response that is mindful, but has the other attributes that make a space become place? You need to understand the why. What is the purpose? What are the needs of those who use it regularly and what is the message that needs to be present at all times in order for the interior environment to become what you envision? To do this does not take hours of therapy, it just takes understanding that our environments have a cause and an effect on all of us. Mindfulness is something many of us are trying to achieve in all aspects of our lives because we know that it is what will keep us sane.

Good design is mindfulness in action.

It’s taking into consideration all of the stuff that happens in any given moment in that particular area of a building or structure.

Structure Needed

People need structures to live and thrive. Buildings that do not take into consideration what that truly means are just taking up space and using up valuable resources on our already crowded Earth. People who are mindful need to have interior spaces that are designed to reflect that mindfulness. For example, if you have a business and its’ mission statement is structured to include “valuing the people who work here”, but you do not provide for them an interior environment that has the necessities for them to do their jobs well, then you are not fulling your mission statement. Our work force is now seeing that well designed work environments that promote wellness, are mindful of the company culture and mission are just as important as a good pay check. 

If the purpose is to create a work place that reflects a corporate culture that values people, the environment or anything else, it should be reflected in the overall design.

Good design is always good for business regardless of the type of business it is. The idea that we can create work places that reflect the ideals we hold sacred is not a complicated task. Designers who take the time to listen to their clients needs as well as provide them with the expertise on materials and current design trends can create environments that represent a place of purpose. If the purpose is to create a work place that reflects a corporate culture that values people, the environment or anything else, it should be reflected in the overall design. Making a space a place is a way of showing that your business goes beyond just the tagline, by making the interiors of your work environment reflect that purpose you create a community where people want to be, a mindful place with a purpose that supports a sense of place.

A little music to BE WITH: https://youtu.be/1prweT95Mo0                

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Who Is She?

Susan Mulholland is a professional commercial interior designer who has been practicing for 25 years. She studied at Northern Arizona University Interior with a Bachelor of Science in Interior Design. Her fundamental approach to interiors lies in her belief that design with a purpose needs to be a holistic with focus on well being for all aspects of good design.

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