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Happy Home Happy New Year

11.01.23

From Socrates to Carl Jung, great thinkers have long grappled with the role that home plays in our lives. In many ways, questioning how to craft a happy home is fundamental to who we are as human beings. “We shape our dwellings, and afterwards our dwellings shape us,” Winston Churchill observed.

Industry research has not surprisingly, gone into overdrive post pandemic, reassessing the intersection between wellbeing and the built environment, with a substantive survey by The Royal Institute of Architects (RIBA), championing the cause that home design needs to take a more nuanced approach beyond merely return on investment (ROI), if a workable blueprint for happier, healthier living is to be achieved.

One keynote take-away from the research findings, is a home’s “visual complexity,” in essence, recognising the power of uncluttered space and proportional architecture to elicit conviviality and calm. Think Frank Lloyd Wright, who believed in designing in harmony with humanity with his purist design colours and patterns in timber, glass, steel, and stone. It’s a symmetry – ‘fractal’ repeated elements – that ensures all parts of the building from the smallest detail to the overall form, speak the same language

Living and breathing our lockdown surroundings at close quarters has also led to a re-education of our sensory palette – tactility, composition and stimulation are influencing nesting choices for interior colour schemes, furnishings, fabrics, and accessories. This includes visually stimulating, vibrant palette combinations, high-tech performance designs such as voice-activated gadgets, and new age materials like bamboo, one of the most important fibres of the decade to emerge in furniture and lighting design, which is natural, sustainable, and organic. Scent is a further ambiance enhancer (the sense of smell is linked to the amygdala, the area of the brain that governs emotion) – only now its power is being deployed to demarcate different living zones – cue a waft of sage or mint in the home office to promote mental acuity or orange blossom in the bedroom to foster serenity and slumber.

You’ll likely be reading a lot too about “building for inheritability” in the coming year - the construction industry gold standard: design well, with the right materials, the first time, is the way forward. Who wouldn’t agree that the impact of keeping apace the latest fad is unsustainable and poor environmental stewardship?

Finally, those whose homes are reflections of their “consciousness” are also on the right track to creating their happy place. The poetics of space, the rhythms of our steps through the rooms of our house, are all expressions of our ‘well’ being. The altering, the noticing, the pondering over why we have things in certain places is all time well spent. And as we embrace a brand-new year, there’s no time like the present to reflect and reappraise.

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