How to Infuse Wellness Into the Design

PALM BEACH GARDENS, FL—When designing for a luxurious utopia like Amrit Ocean Resort & Residences, how do you infuse wellness into the look and feel of the space?

Rocio Saenz, designer at Bilkey Lineas Design based here, believes it is about having a focus on the process that leads to wellness-promoting spaces and experiences. In this case, it consisted of developing a thoughtful, contemporary design that resonates with the mind, body and spirit.

“Natural finishes and elements came together to create this narrative. A strong connection to nature in the design created an atmosphere of relaxation and well-being,” said Saenz. “Our goal was to bring to fruition the client’s vision of opening the first wellness-focused resort in the area, and it involved a period of deep immersion in understanding the holistic health practices of the Himalayan Institute and mind-body therapies that the resort is offering. The sanctuary-like spaces that evolved were built around ergonomically sound practices to improve physical and mental wholeness.”

For the firm, social responsibility also played a role in the resort’s design as acting stewards of the surroundings and understanding the expectations of today’s traveler.

“It’s important to lead in the awareness of the selection of sustainable materials, as the shift towards eco-friendly spaces drives choices that are conducive to a healthy body and environment,” she said. “Today’s hotel guest will not only be more likely to focus on their own overall health practices, but also to care about organic food, indoor air quality and the exclusion of products containing toxic chemicals. This awareness provided a meaningful platform upon which to craft a well-thought-out design with a positive impact, in harmony with its surrounding natural coastal elements.”

Overall, the concept of wellness served as a guiding principle for the team as they worked to bring forth the new design for an emerging type of clientele where health is not just a trend, but a lifestyle.

“The ambience and function of a space affects our overall mood and sense of wellness. The interior volumes have clean lines, are contemporary and uncluttered, all with an overall design language that relates to the central hub of health and vitality—the spa,” she said.

“With a focus on not only restful spaces for individual relaxation, but areas zoned for social interaction and specific purposes, such as dining, repose, or exercising, we provided opportunities for stimulating conversation and connection that lead to a sense of inclusion and wellness. The pursuit of good health defines everything about the project, from the way the spa functions to the inclusion of a private spa garden, to the types of food and beverage offered, with the goal of actively creating a meaningful experience for the guest.

“We explored the ancient Indian belief that all existence arises from sound vibrations. The healing power of sound becomes a physical phenomenon in the shapes formed by the vibrations of sound waves. Subtle representations of these patterns became the subliminal texture and soul of the public spaces and guestroom.”

Saenz drew upon the five basic elements—earth, water, air, metal/fire—to create a narrative of wellness. “The restorative energy of nature was a primary theme in our quest for wellness,” she said. Here, Saenz outlines how these natural elements were infused into the design.

Earth & Land: “A serene and earthy color palette—natural stone, slate and light sand tones complement the natural elements of the resort’s surroundings, along with the richness of natural, weathered materials. Growth and renewal are embodied in the richness of wood finishes and lush landscaping.”

Water: “One of the central themes of the resort is the water element. The ocean, pools and the movement of water create a design theme that is picked up in a continuous flow throughout the spaces, from the outside in.”

Air: “Large windows and high ceilings with proximity to the sky bring in natural light throughout, providing a seamless connection with the air element. Light and shadow play in the clean, open spaces.”

Fire: “Represented in the energy of the bright Florida sunshine that the resort basks in, the fire element also appears literally in the fire-pit at the pool deck, a gathering space for celebration and meditation.”

“Wellness is one of the fastest growing industries worldwide with spending at around $4 trillion dollars,” she said. “We are called upon to become aware and make choices on sustainability and conscious wellness design; it’s no longer just design for design’s sake. The sense of urgency to save the planet from the effects of climate change becomes more pressing every year, and ultimately wellness is about the health of the planet, which is driving the design of architecture and interiors.”

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