Kind by Design

Monday March 21, 2022

Your Sanctuary. I believe a ‘Sanctuary’ is somewhere that most of us have built over the years – at least in part. Some of us have built and lost and have started to build again but we now know what we love in ‘our space’ – the design elements of a corner of paradise. We’ve learned about what makes us feel good, feel comfortable, feel safe.

This sense of well-being is often enhanced by natural elements – most often light and plants. Water works well, too.

A topic that fascinates me is biophilic design. These is the deliberate act of designing our living and working environment with Nature in mind. When we connect deeply with Nature, the evidence points to us being more joyful, more productive, more healthy. My desk where I live overlooks the garden. It’s a small space, a humble space, but it is green space - and I love it.

Biophilic Design usually means bringing plants inside our buildings and opening up our living spaces to light and air. It is designing space that is kind to humans.

Garden Centres are good catalysts for a sense of well-being for many of us, too. Does that include for you? One of my favourites is on the way from Bridport to Lyme Regis in Dorset. From the road, the main Café would not look out of place at Cornwall’s famous Eden Project. It is a beautiful glasshouse called, “The Ivy House.” For years, I’ve hoped that they would add more plants inside this glasshouse, going for biophilic design.

Last week, we made the pilgrimage to Bridport via the breath-taking coast road from Abbotsbury. To my delight, there had been changes. Rich tropical foliage hung down from the ceiling inside the glasshouse. Excited, we hurried through the Garden Centre in pursuit of lunch inside this enchanced taste of paradise. Imagine my shock when the foliage turned out to be artificial!

My shock turned to an ‘Aha!’ moment when I realised how impractical creating a café within a tropical rain forest would be for the food preparation. It would also be tough on the team. True, The Eden Project has a restaurant area within the Mediterranean Dome – but that’s not dripping in humidity – and the dome is huge. Common-sense has prevailed instead. Low maintenance, yet utterly convincing foliage now adds a new dimension to what was already an enriching experience.

Do you have green fingers? Not all of us have. Neither do plants, water, and humidity sit well with most living environments. The Ivy House’s imaginative use of realistic artificial plants offers an alternative route to design our environments in a way that is kind to humans.

This got me thinking about Moodscopers and how we each have, and could have, a go at environmental enrichment using artificial plants - much like we may use artificial lights and even candles.

What are your tips for creating a sanctuary that, by design, is kind to the mind?

A Moodscope member.

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