Over the last few years, Wellness has become a word many have heard all too much. It is something we see on social media, on the news, and in magazines, and is now a word hard to escape from.
With various industries across the spectrum capitalising on it, a look into what Wellness really is, and what it can do for us, is long overdue. Holiday companies are selling out of mindfulness and yoga retreats, health-food accounts on Instagram are monopolising the web, and spa treatments are more popular than ever.
The interiors market is no exception. Giants like Duravit, Jacuzzi, Laufen, and Villeroy & Boch have all brought out products relating to wellbeing; even Dulux had their colour of the year for 2018 based on Wellness.
Industry is aboard the Wellness train from all angles, but with our homes being where our hearts lie, where ours lives are built, and where the bricks are an extension of ourselves, Wellness has reached past our walls and become an integral part of how we live.
But what is Wellness, and why is it so important?
Though it may be seen by some as a throwaway phrase devoid of substance, consumers are finding that in their increasingly busy lives, Wellness is a trend they often turn to in order to seek out seemingly rare positivity.
The World Health Organisation defines Wellness as being “the state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing, and not necessarily the absence of disease or infirmity”, and with the current focus on both mental and physical health in all forms of media, Wellness is becoming a word that boasts significant meaning.
As always, to suggest a trend as big as Wellness is a standalone phenomenon would be naive; there are of course a number of other trends that have pushed it into prominence.
The most notable of these trends is Urbanisation. Starting as a seed in the beginning of the industrial revolution, urbanisation has now grown to envelope most developed countries to the point where 50% of the world’s population is now living in a city or a town.
And when it comes to the UK, 90% of population lives in an urban environment, surrounded by noise, pollution, and concrete mazes with no greenery and no fresh air, prompting consumers to crave more natural settings within their homes where they can’t find them outside.
Twinned with urbanisation is the rise in worldwide (and U.K.) population, which has necessitated smaller living spaces to accommodate this population growth. According to RIBA, our new builds are now half the size of those built in the 1920s, and among the smallest in Europe.
Indeed, programmes like Channel 4’s Amazing Spaces go to show how while there are some people utilising smaller homes to mimic the feel of comfort and space, most houses aren’t changing to meet the demands that come with the country-wide downsize.
This squeeze has resulted in two polar opposite problems: loneliness and lack of privacy. With a record number of older people living alone, loneliness now being accepted as a mental health issue, and rising house prices forcing Generation Rent back to their parents’ houses, Wellness has emerged as something that may be able to tackle these sources of negativity that have arisen in the home.
Could technology be the platform needed to promote Wellness?
In this changing world, technology is advancing beyond what we ever anticipated, and is bringing unexpected surprises into our homes- both good and bad. Four million people now double their kitchen as a working space, a large aspect of what is now being dubbed as the ‘hybrid homes’ phenomenon.
Yet, this dual function needs to be used in the best way possible to induce a harmonious living space, one that boosts wellbeing rather than damaging it. Cue smart products like the Healthy Home Coach, which uses four sensors to track all sorts of metrics like temperature, air quality, humidity and noise levels in your home.
Invoking Wellness in the home
With cluttered lives comes the reactionary response to seek out Wellness, and the consumer market knows this.
We are seeing soaring purchases of household gym equipment, scented candles, and memory foam mattresses to name a few, but it isn’t just through products that people can chase Wellness. It can start in the structure of a home, its foundations. It runs deeper than material goods, and is at its core the idea of creating a personal space that can induce a sense of calm as soon as you walk into it
In an urban world, it is the need to have natural light in the home – a slice of sun on the bed on a Sunday morning – or the ability to breathe in fresh, clean air as you’d have in the countryside. Ultimately, it’s about making a space comfortable to oneself, a home in harmony with the consumer, a place of silence among the noise.
We are seeing examples of this crop up as of late, such as the MINI living urban cabin, that manages to perpetuate moments of tranquillity and privacy within its 15 sqm plot.
In many ways, Wellness is often tied intrinsically to the natural world and the importance of saving it. Investments in water savers, or solar panels to channel the energy of the sun are all products in-keeping with this. In fact, homeowners currently planning their bathroom are twice as likely to consider water-saving products than they would have been up to a year previously. Healthy world, healthy body, healthy mind.
The future of Wellness
With the abundance of temporary trends, such as Hygge, scattered all over our social media and our everyday only to disappear months later, it’s fair to doubt the longevity, and therefore importance of Wellness.
The truth is, that although the word Wellness is in itself fast becoming overused by marketers, the driving force behind it combined with the inherently human need to achieve happiness in today’s world means it’s a trend likely to stick around for a long time.
Whether this be under a different name, or under the term we are all now so familiar with, it’s undeniable that Wellness is integral to our lives- whether we realise it or not.
And the challenge set to our industry is to provide consumers with a space that will continue to impact on their mental and physical health for the better.