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Mindful Spaces

24.03.20

As remote home working becomes the norm for many, three design and development experts explore how we can create mindful, well-designed spaces which ensure our homes are healthy and happy and our minds engaged and productive.

Helen Westlake, Creative Director of London interior design and architecture studio Millier, recommends incorporating eco, natural materials into design in order to improve air quality, mood and stress levels. ‘Natural materials should replace synthetic ones as much as possible; natural wools and cottons don't have to be expensive and are widely available. We often look to the qualities of nature when creating our interior design schemes, especially in home offices. Using restful, relaxing and textural materials, muted tones and touches of texture and organic patterning can contribute towards creating calm spaces that promote natural energy.

Low toxicity/non-VOC emitting paints such as Earthborn, or the premium quality paint colours of Farrow and Ball will also help minimise indoor air pollution, so consider these brands when retouching your paintwork. Plants and greenery are also vital for clean, filtered air in the home and for boosting productivity. Fresh flowers help provide a natural perfume and inspire a good mood and biophilia (the connection between humans and nature) has been proven to reduce stress levels and blood pressure.

Natural aromas can also help us de-stress. If possible, use different scents in different rooms - citrus is a stimulant so works well in office environments, whereas jasmine and lavender are more calming scents suited to relaxation areas. This will help you switch off as you move from ‘work’ to ‘home’ mode.’

Steve Howat, Co-Founder of super prime construction company London Projects, says it is very important to consider the availability of light within the home, especially when deciding on the best location for a home office. ’Our clients today have never been more conscious of the impact of artificial light on their health and wellbeing. We strive to be at the forefront of AV technology and are now working a lot with Human Centric Lighting - lighting devoted to enhancing vision, performance and wellbeing in the home or workplace by controlling the level of blue light we experience throughout the day.

Through the use of carefully selected "tunable" LED luminaires and an appropriate lighting control solution, the colour temperature of emitted light can be automatically adjusted through the course of a day, dawn until dusk. In keeping with our natural circadian rhythm, this aids our sleep/wake cycle and helps increase our productivity if working from home.

Another interesting trend we are seeing is the demand from clients for glass panels with a low iron content. This gives the glass an ultra-high clarity and removes any bluish or greenish tint and allows for the maximum level of natural light to come through.

Having natural light and not relying on artificial overhead or table lighting is of increasing importance to our clients, especially those who work from home and use a study space frequently. On a recent project, a 4,500 sq ft duplex apartment in Holland Park, we carefully positioned the home study in an area of the apartment which would bring in a vast amount of natural light throughout the day. Not only this, but the location of the study also meant the owner could sit at their desk and overlook the communal gardens, adding a sense of calm to the room and creating an important connection to the outside space. Views are very important to consider when choosing a home office space.’

Charu Gandhi, Founder of luxury design studio Elicyon, adds that her studio always focuses on making home workspaces highly personalised and as interesting as possible, focusing on design as well as function. ‘Some of our clients need extensive technology support for working from home, ranging from multiple TV screens to track markets and video conferencing facilities whilst others want a place to retreat and do their deep-thinking work. We love creating a spillover space within the study if the room allows, so adding a chaise longue or small seating arrangement where our client can read or rest, turning the office into a sanctuary away from the world, rather than a purely functional space.

I think that study spaces that are clutter free create a calm space to work in, so designing appropriate storage, where paperwork, files or IT equipment such as printers can be tucked away is functionally important. We work hard to hide away all the cables associated with IT in particular. When we use antique desks, then we create a cable channel running on the side of the desk that discreetly tucks away wires. I find more and more clients want to use a desk that has some history associated with their family or their own work life, which is wonderful to celebrate.

A design trend that we have been championing is to add depth and interest to the study space, which can tend to look flat if it's overly functional. Taking inspiration from a library or gallery setting, we use interesting textures to the back of units such as parchment or eglomise mirror and beautiful veneers with varying tones and lacquer finishes. If there is a window in the study, then curtains or blinds can frame the room beautifully and I particularly like using heavy wool fabrics for curtains that fall well, with an interesting edge detail. The window dressings mean you can control the daylight coming into the room, particularly if the study is south facing, so that bright sunshine doesn’t affect your screen or reading.

Adding interest extends to the study having personality, so we work with our clients to add objects of relevance such as family photos, meaningful objet d’art and often pieces they have collected from around the world on their travels.’

www.millierlondon.com / www.londonprojects.co.uk / www.elicyon.com

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