Rethinking “The Box”
By Unatti Sharma
Longing to get outdoors? Aren’t we all.
Lately we find ourselves surrounded by the same four walls – stuck in a new routine that is hard to break out of. Our time spent in front of screens surges, whether it is a laptop, computer, TV, tablet, or phone. Our life balance waivers as our place of rest and replenishment also becomes our place of work and focus.
Though this year has been particularly testing, it has been enlightening in many ways – it has given me, for one, a newfound appreciation for the natural environments and great outdoors that I once took for granted. Before the lockdown went into play, I had regular access to beaches, trails, parks and more. It gave me the ability to expose myself to new sensory stimuli, breathe fresh air, hear new sounds, and see the limitless skies. When I think back to all that, it brings me a feeling of happiness.
The outdoors is commonly associated with this feeling of happiness. Many say that the outdoors is healing and restorative. But then I look at one statistic – 87% of all our time is spent indoors (NHAPS). It’s strange how something that encompasses just 13% of our time on average has such a profound effect on our lives.
Just realizing the impact, it becomes obvious that the indoors can never replace our time outdoors. However the present circumstances have forced us to seek out creative solutions. Today, it is essential that we also enrich our indoor environments, bringing in the nourishment of nature into our newly-created quarantine sanctuary.
As a designer, I was educated on the theory of biophilia, which is defined as “an innate and genetically determined affinity of human beings with the natural world.” (Oxford Dictionary). Biophilic Design has been one of the top design trends through all spectrums of design – and it is often considered when planning workplace/education/healthcare design to promote wellbeing. This made me reflect on how we can somehow embrace these principles and thus reinvent our “box” to keep our surroundings stimulating.
Sight: Plants, Green walls at home not only bring life into the space, but also there are several plant types which can purify the air. Combination of white light/yellow light, and bright/dim indoor lights during different times of day can bring some visual change. Windows can bring in daylight/fresh air into the home environment. Sheer curtains at windows allows more daylight to flood in, as opposed to light blocking curtains. Using a variety of Colors – Bright/Muted can aid in bringing more life into the space as well. Flowers can serve the purpose of brightening the space.
Sound: The whole wide world of YouTube, Spotify and every other music streaming service has mood music, nature sounds, and ambient noise. Play water sounds for a soothing moment, and forest sounds to boost creativity. You can also incorporate a small water feature somewhere at home to create soothing white noise.
Smell: Try out some aromatherapies such as Essential Oils, Candles, or even certain flowers. It’s incredible the role scents play in our perception of the environment – both indoors and outdoors. Create a sensory landscape in your home with different diffuser scents associated with varied moods/activities. (Orange energizes, Lavender relaxes, Peppermint soothes and so on…)
Touch: Incorporating varied visual and tactile textures of Fabrics stimulates the sense of touch. Also, you can get your hands dirty and plant an indoor herb garden. Watching them grow can also provide a sense of achievement. And then of course, you can garnish your next meal with them too!
That’s it from me! If you have any questions, I’ll be lounging at home with the Uma Sound Lantern playing relaxation music in dim mood lighting, mentally transported to a Tropical beach with the perfect blend of aromatherapy. (just kidding, I’ll probably be here continuing to create extraordinary spaces with POI! 😊)