Issues like designing for resiliency, sustainability and creating spaces that support healthy behaviors extend far beyond hospitals and other health care facilities. That much was obvious at the annual NeoCon trade fair this week in Chicago.
The multitude of commercial interior products and technologies on display consistently emphasized these primary themes as architects, interior designers and others scoured the Merchandise Mart exploring solutions for their projects.
Amid the scores of showrooms, many of the health care-focused products were designed to make environments safer, more energy efficient and more responsive to consumer needs — including everything from flexible and durable furniture to touchless hand-hygiene stations to at least one hard surface material (DuPont Corian) that can be fabricated with embedded transmitters to facilitate recharging smartphones, tablets and more.
Elsewhere, American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) officials noted during a press briefing that their member research shows that the top three design trends for 2015–2016 across all markets are health and well-being, technology and sustainability. A panel of ASID Think Tank Challenge members also identified the five most transformative subtrends of the top six macro trends. These subtrends included:
- Holistic design thinking
- Higher sustainability standards
- Design for healthy behaviors
- Energy optimization
- 3-D printing and other visualization
"We need to advance the level of dialog exponentially on sustainability," said Randy Fiser, ASID CEO, who also noted that designing for healthy behaviors was the top pick for fastest-moving trends.
In its summary of the Interior Design 2015–2016 Outlook and State of the Industry report, ASID states that designing for healthy behaviors focuses on movement or physical activity and explains how design can motivate more of it. Common design solutions can be included in layouts by designing stairs to be more visible, and having common areas at central locations to encourage movement and direct the flow of cross-pollination in teams.
Although sustainability is hardly a new trend, it continues to gain traction, according to the report. The ASID panel of design experts identified two sustainability subtrends — higher sustainability standards and energy optimization.
"Further, we're hearing that designing for health behaviors itself … is becoming increasingly integrated into the concept of sustainability," the report states. "Where many have interpreted the term 'sustainability' to mostly mean reducing environmental impact, it seems that a broader interpretation of the concept is spreading."
For instance, the Green Building Certification Institute recently announced a formal collaboration that will demonstrate that green building and health and wellness go hand in hand.
"Perhaps we'll see more formal integration of the standards and concepts in the future," the ASID report states.