If you’re reading this standing up – rather than sitting – at your desk, wearing a Fitbit and planning your next Paleo meal, you are knee deep in one of the most important consumer megatrends today: betterment and the pursuit of health and wellbeing.
You might think aging baby boomers coming face to face with sagging body parts are fueling this trend. But actually, according to global trend spotters Trendwatching, betterment goes much deeper.
Increasingly affluent people of all ages and genders have climbed psychologist Andrew Maslow’s hierarchy of needs; that is, starting with physiological needs and moving up to safety, love/belonging and esteem. Now they have reached the top rung where they seek self-actualization.
Self-actualization, Trendwatching explains, is an endless quest for self-improvement. People search to realize the idealized version of themselves they carry around in their head. “In 2016, consumerism is the primary means by which people pursue that search. The brands they’ll notice, engage with, love, are those that help them be the people they want to be. That’s why self-actualization is the future of consumerism,” says Trendwatching.
Consumers have moved beyond products as status symbols, and even moved beyond the “experience” economy, to a place where self-actualization is the new status symbol.
There are many routes to self-actualization, one of which is health and wellbeing. Trendwatching predicts that health and wellness will only become a more important part of how consumers live – and measure – their lives in the coming years. “It’s about health as self-enrichment. Health as achievement. Health as status,” they say.
FOSTERING WELLBEING IN SPACES
So, how can kitchen and bath professionals help clients pursue their dreams of self-actualization through health and wellness? Part of the answer may lie in broadening our vision and skill set to take in new learning from outside our immediate industry.
This means not only following new technology and incorporating it into environments, but also understanding the elements of spaces that can foster wellbeing, and the deeper emotional relationships of people to their homes. It may also mean expanding the vision of the role of a kitchen or bath professional.
Here are a couple of ideas to get the creative juices flowing.
In January 2016, Philips transformed four branches of Starbucks in the Netherlands into EnergyUp cafes with EnergyUp lamps that mimic natural daylight and have a mood lifting, revitalizing effect after around 20 minutes.
In December 2015, new Qatar Airways planes were fitted with LED lights that change color temperature to mimic the sun’s glow, coinciding with passengers’ natural circadian rhythms to reduce jetlag.
How can you apply the latest lighting technology to help your clients boost their energy in the morning, relax and sleep better at night, and overcome SAD (seasonal affective disorder)?
This past February, Headspace, a meditation app and events company, announced a collaboration with Los Angeles-based architectural practice Oyler Wu Collaborative to put Meditation Pods in public spaces such as airports, schools and parks. Can you create meditation pods in your customers’ homes?
“Consumers – especially city dwellers – are also beset by a rising awareness of the toxic impacts of their environment and the lifestyle that it encourages. Think air pollution, late nights, food on the go, the stress of the daily commute and more,” Trendwatching points out.
Addressing those issues is not necessarily all about new technology and the Internet of Things, but also about using and presenting everyday products from a health and wellness viewpoint. Understand what constitutes a high-quality ventilation system to remove pollutants, and how the best water filtration system works. Demonstrate how steam cooking is healthy. Help clients select refrigerators that preserve nutrients in foods. Research non-toxic materials and explain them to clients. Given the importance of fresh foods, can a small garden area be included in a kitchen as the ultimate farm-to-table experience?
Can you go beyond kitchen design and layout, and plan kitchens for healthier eating? In Slim by Design, leading behavioral economist and food psychologist Brian Wansink, Ph.D, introduces groundbreaking solutions for designing home kitchens, among other spaces, to make positive changes in how we approach and manage our diets. “Becoming slim by design works better than trying to become slim by willpower. It’s easier to change your eating environment than to change your mind,” he says. Where should food be stored? Can you “snack-proof” a kitchen?
Technology is certainly one way health and wellbeing are finding a presence. For example, there are intelligent toilets that analyze urine for blood sugar and more.
Bus straps in Beijing measure a rider’s heart rate and body mass index. The strap also syncs with cellphones, giving people real-time health information during their daily commute. Why couldn’t this technology come to, say, a drawer pull in a bathroom?
Aside from high tech, can you discuss with clients the many health benefits of a steam shower, massaging showerhead and soaking tub, jetted or not? Do you know how to design a home fitness center? New smart mirrors in gyms give users feedback on the number of reps they’ve done, the time between reps and proper form of an exercise.
Given the studies that show people exposed to nature experience less anxiety and heal faster after an illness, can you create a bed/bath suite that looks out over a patio or other access to greenery, or incorporates an interior garden?
Delve into the literature exploring the relationship between the physical environment and wellbeing through books such as Healing Spaces: The Science of Place and Well-Being by Esther M. Sternberg, The Power of Place: How our Surroundings Shape our Thoughts, Emotions and Actions by Winifred Gallagher, and House As a Mirror of Self: Exploring the Deeper Meaning of Home by Clare Cooper Marcus.
In an era where more men are taking up yoga and more women are taking up weight lifting and boxing, all of these can provide insights into additional ways kitchen and bath professionals can contribute to the betterment of clients seeking self-fulfillment through the pursuit of improved health and wellbeing.