LIVINGSCAPES

Trend Research: Enabling House.
Enabling design

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The “therapeutic” properties of design are not just reserved for those in greatest need, such as older people. Planners and young designers are increasingly embracing the concept that real physical benefits can be drawn from the surrounding environment and the furnishings we use every day.

The underlying principle is that of design thinking, which puts people’s needs and their emotional and relational response to the object or product created with them in mind at the centre of the creative and design process. Thus, aside from being a comfortable seat and an attractive design, a chair can acquire added value in terms of “learning” and of improving everyday activities, and have a direct impact on the user’s physical wellbeing.

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When planned with these criteria in mind, and equipped with objects that embody these characteristics, the habitative space can be much more than a comfortable environment, becoming a functional instrument that works to maintain the physical wellbeing of those who live in it.

Fabian Zeijler is a designer, trained at the Design Academy in Eindhoven, whose formally sophisticated and minimalist work focuses on balancing three factors: practicality, comfort and looks. Underpinning these factors is the concept that, as well as serving a particular purpose and embodying particular expressive values, furniture and furnishings should also be seen as vehicles for and “dispensers” of wellbeing. 

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Take Purificatum, an air purifier that doubles as a lamp. It comes in both a floor and a tabletop version, and can be sited wherever it is most useful to improve air quality in the home, making a positive impact on the health of its inhabitants.

Purificatum, which is both simple yet elegant, is also a stylish lamp, projecting light ranging from the cooler tones, promoting concentration and productivity, to the warmer ones, which promote rest and relaxation. The Dutch designer’s approach puts the accent on the emotional relationship that builds up between people and the environment in which they live and spend a good deal of their time.

Zami is a smart stool inspired by a simple observation: people are spending more and more time sitting down and poor posture can eventually lead to neck and back problems, with significant repercussions on our general health.

This special stool was designed to promote “active” sitting, which helps to maintain the optimum curve of the spine. Basically in order to balance on it, the stool “requires” the abdominal muscles to come into play, thereby training them to support the back properly. The seat also harnesses technology, with a special app that monitors the user’s “performance”, providing feedback on their postural habits so that they can be improved day by day.

Zami’s design is the fruit of careful ergonomic research and, unlike similar products, which often sacrifice looks in the name of practicality, is unusually stylish, catering to contemporary taste, both because of its simple, attractive lines and the fact that it is craftsman-made from top quality materials.

Furnishing accessories such as curtains, cushions, rugs and coverings help to make a home warm and comfortable, and play an important part in improving its acoustics and in regulating humidity levels. They can also become the enemies of those plagued with asthma and allergies to dust and mites.

This is what informed Siem-Pabom Studio’s Cosy Carpet, a rug that can be heated up to a temperature of 60° C, thereby cutting the number of allergens in the air. The round rug is made of coils of rope, culminating in a hydraulic connection. Once connected to a radiator, for example, or to another heat source, every two months, hot water starts to circulate through the inner covered tubes, sparking the air purifying process. Simultaneously, the rug also works as an environmentally friendly floor heating system.

Cosy Carpet comes in two different colourways – blue and green – and as well as its appealing looks and colourful impact, allows those most sensitive the freedom to surround themselves with textiles and finishes that would otherwise be banished from their homes.