Here’s our guide to the five things you need to consider when designing for mental wellness, be that through physical spaces or digital alternatives.

Light the way 

The benefits of natural light are well-known, and its subtleties can inform spatial design – morning light, for instance, is apparently more effective than evening light in helping to reduce depression, so buildings could be oriented accordingly. But even artificial light, when used in the right way, can provide significant psychological benefits.  

Carve out mindful moments 

Rather than having only dedicated wellness centres, moments for respite and restoration can be integrated into other buildings – particularly those in which we need them the most, like offices. Ensure that the atmosphere offers a calming escape from the surrounding environment. 

Think about accessibility

The past year has become an extreme example of how digital can stand in for physical, with many in-person counselling sessions switched to teletherapy during lockdowns. Digital wellness options are often more accessible for many, with the added benefit of potentially attracting a more diverse community than in a physical location. But whether physical or digital, wellness solutions should be easily and readily available, wherever and by whomever they’re needed.  

Choose the right medium for the message

Physical and digital wellness offerings both have their advantages and disadvantages, so consider which medium(s) are the best fit. The answer might be both, which is where a hybrid model could come in. And even in the digital realm, think about which sub-medium can offer the best solution. Immersive video-game-like portals, for instance, make it possible to tailor spatial experiences to a specific context.   

Consider the senses 

Both physical products and spaces can explore the connection between wellness and the senses. Think of using acoustics to dampen peripheral noise, for example, and prioritizing warm, tactile materials over cold, hard ones. Products can also play with such elements as sound, lighting and aroma. 

This article concludes our republication of Frame 139's Lab on the relationship between mental wellbeing and design. To read more, get a print copy of Frame 139 here.