Wellness has increasingly become an important topic in contract design, and few could emphasize this point to architects and designers better than Arianna Huffington, founder of The Huffington Post, who collapsed at work from exhaustion a decade ago. As she tells the story, her body gave up and she passed out—hitting her cheek on a table and waking up to a pool of blood. “Is this what success looks like?” she asked.
Huffington started her keynote at Neocon 2017 with this message to the contract design community: “You thought you were doing furniture, but you are actually doing much more than that. Those of you who are interior designers can help make transformational differences in lives, and those of you who produce furniture can give them the tools to do so. This is a time of incredible opportunity.”
While most Type A personalities are tethered to screens and to-do lists, driving even more productivity from ourselves and our teams, our bodies will scream in resistance if we don’t take regular moments to relax and recharge. Huffington believes that when we take time to sleep and fully recharge, we are more effective. In fact, her last two books, Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder and The Sleep Revolution: Transforming Your Life, One Night At a Time, became bestsellers, indicating the message resonates with many.
This message of health and wellbeing was a common theme at this year’s NeoCon, where nearly every flooring manufacturer we visited spoke about health and biophilic design. It connects our inherent need to affiliate with nature in the modern built environment. It’s a focus on health, breaking down the walls between the exterior and interior and bringing nature into our urban environments.
We’ve heard the stats about biophilia repeated like a drumbeat: it improves productivity, lowers stress levels, enhances learning comprehension and increases recovery rates from illness. In flooring, these nuances are being showcased through product design that reflect colors and textures of nature, in addition to sustainable production and functional benefits. This focus on health and wellness is not a trend or a fad; it’s here to stay.