Why do we need a different spatial design for spas?

Well ... when having beauty treatments ... when at the spa, when in the water, when being touched, when lying, and finally also when naked, our perception changes, people’s spatial perception changes – regardless of whether or not we want that to be the case. It happens on a predominantly subconscious level, where physical knowledge and physical memory gain the upper hand over rationale, over people’s allegedly so significant reason.

The spa is a place where sensory reflection takes centre stage in a special way – for the senses, but also for people’s sense. New spaces and rituals are needed that strengthen our trust in the moment – in the here and now. Spaces and rituals that renew this archaic connection between SENSE and SENSES.

Have we developed enough consciousness to achieve that when we start designing a spa? Is there enough sensibility, enough »perception« involved when we create new spaces for well-being? Human perception is doubtlessly a fascinating field for research, for science ... for artists ... but also for »wellness people«? Do we know enough about it?

It’s a field where we creative people, where we artists can truly make an essential contribution as designers. Namely our know-how, our expertise about how people perceive, how our senses function – and how we can design spaces that touch us.

Such SensorySpaces – such bridges between »sense and senses« – have become the focus of my work in recent years. SpaceArtWorks have emerged that touch people via several senses: sound, oscillation, colour, light, shape, tactility, warmth and also scents are increasingly being composed into a large whole. Holistic.

What does that mean for design practice?

Something radical: »Doing Design is Working with Your Senses«.

In HOLISTIC DESIGN PRACTICE it is important to uphold these high aspirations to sensuousness throughout the realization process … throughout the budget cuts … throughout the radical simplification steps and economy measures … and also throughout the actual construction process on site.

Today it is no longer the task of architects and designers to design purely spectacular three-dimensional shells, which we as people cannot at all experience in the way that was simulated in the model or even in the 3D animation. »How do I feel as a person in this space?« That will be the decisive design question of the future, especially and above all in spas.

My plea to the future of the spa & wellness industry is: let’s dare to redefine the field, to re-root it – boldly at the heart of our high-performance society. Our need for »sensory reflection« is at the centre – for the senses but also for people’s sense.

And how do we make people reflect? Via their senses.

Because we only perceive the world via our senses. So let’s rethink the entire Space-World-Spa and effectively redesign it. After all, it is supposed to touch us, people. On every level. With all our senses. That is not possible with conventional architecture and design methods. That requires new, holistic approaches to designing SensorySpaces like this in spas.

I see a huge opportunity here: in a world in which the media is celebrating acceleration and congestion, the spa and hotel industry has the chance to offer alternative scenarios – offline experiences in the real, sensory space.

So let’s transform the spas of the future into oases of creativity and perception! Let’s make them into places of sensitization in which each of us can rediscover ourselves and our world.

Or as the brilliant futurologist Alvin Toffler would say:

»In the future it’s no longer a
question of learning from the past,
but learning from the future.«

© SHA. 2016