area 133+ | wellness

The term most frequently used to express the state of well-being is “balance“. Balance intended as an equilibrium between the various factors involved in creating a circumstance, in which there are few needs to be met. The relationship between basic needs and the pace prompted by the organization of our work time and free time, cannot be simply analysed through the pressing points proposed by Maslow; they need to be added to those brought about by consumer society.
To point out, therefore, the differences between temporary and permanent well-being, allows us to examine the reasons that have led to such a broad case history of actions and contexts dedicated to this theme.
Spaces for relaxation, beauty treatment, plus those for sport, which fall into the same category, are ultimately spaces in which to pursue, even for a few moments, the quest for the adaptation of our bodies – understood as a holistic system – to corrosive agents that surround us. Adherence to the real daily problems or more “sophisticated“ needs, represents the distance between the pursuit of basic tangible well-being, and that purely perceived as an essentially psychological condition.
In contemporary society, welfare has become a right to which we can all aspire, the expansion of places in which to exercise it, be they natural or artificial, corresponds to the ability of the social system to permit the effective achievement of the social target desired. From a critical economic point of view, the pursuit of well-being not tied to basic needs, is another of the weapons that consumer society has chosen to comply with the request of ongoing business, of goods and “fast turn“ services, which help to maintain constant over time the economic viability of the market. From a point of view of the message conveyed, there is a logical relationship with aspects of ecology, eco-compatibility, and incentive practices related to organic agriculture, which make this sector ethically relevant.
The added value combined with a primary permanent need, i.e. needs related to survival and treatment of disease, is inferior to the communicable value, and congruous to factors related to the treatment of one’s physical aspect as well as psychological equilibrium, offering the latter increasingly attentive and professional attention.
That the concept of “wellness“ is a broadly assimilated factor is evident from the increase, even in the West, in the pursuit of periods of self-equilibrium, even for a few moments, and in all sorts of places. In a vehicle, in the office, in a public space, it is more and more common to encounter people reading or listening to music or simply resting, detaching themselves from the environment through a highly personal use of the concept of pause. Not always are we able to self-stimulate ourselves to take a quiet moment, to consider an afternoon nap physiological, and the practice of taking care of something animate or technological is often one of the most common means in achieving this. It might seem rather strange affirm, but taking a dog for a walk or grooming a cat is to many people equivalent to tweeting, taking photos and divulging moments of their daily lives. Taking care of one’s own contacts, constantly falls into that need for loved ones outside the family circle and the need for belonging and identification, which increasingly become part of our equilibrium. The pursuit of physical or psychological wellbeing, be it induced or natural, fills much of our time. It is the desire for wellness that activates and directs the way we behave and indicates the most appropriate ways to achieve it. In this ongoing research, we cannot exclude as a primary stimulus the need for self-esteem and prestige, which a good, relaxed image can generate within the sphere of our relationships. There are no designated places in pursuit of contemporary wellness; there are suitably designed environments which, from an emotional point of view, facilitate this practice, and in which qualified staff can quickly help to untie the most intriguing knots of our minds.
The image of physical and mental wellbeing more in line with our expectations is represented by a group of natural elements, including: water, blue sky and large, green-tea coloured leaves. The natural environment is most in keeping with our collective imagination of wellness, where the senses, in their broadest sense, must be able to unleash the unexpressed potential in a strictly daily routine. The definition of the spaces dedicated to wellness, meanders among aspects suspended between philosophy and the science of perception, between tangible and intangible aspects, between perception and sensation, in which the balance of choices in terms of design should not pander to mediate a project that is too cold – treatment – or too hot – the spiritual.
It is difficult to indicate and limit the extension of the concept of well-being to just a few types of environments and product sectors. Well-being, in its generalized term, rightfully means eating and dressing well, practising sports and relaxation exercises, beauty treatments and the reduction of certain pathologies, such as being hard of hearing, which involves the use of aids in some cases deemed inadequate to a healthy, good-looking image. We are witnessing the birth of restaurants, eateries, chocolatiers, where the aspects mentioned are central, where the exaltation of taste, the pleasure of developing the aptitude for tasting, can only be considered fundamental aspects of the way we live the overall quality of our existence. Touching a velvety surface, hot or cold, hearing drops falling into water or onto a metal surface, receiving or giving massages, tanning or having cycles of chromotherapy, jacuzzis or immersing onself in a warm, moist or dry environment, running, jumping or climbing, all with images, sounds and scents, selected to enhance the completeness of sensation, are gestures that belong to the realm of reality. The perception that we receive from them is in many cases measurable, definable by its durability.
The most unusual aspect to be recognized in wellness environments is the almost total denial of images linked to tradition, both in terms of spaces as well as human activities. The image of reference is pure nature, an ideal world not yet tainted by man, a tangible and attainable Eden. Everything is quiet, a static equilibrium in which sight, the sense most subject to the desires of the society of image, is temporarily switched off in favour of other bodily sensations.
In many cases we can observe a highly developed use of natural materials, lightly hewn stone, solid wood, river pebbles, brickwork, glazed pottery with geometric or floral decorations, but they are generally minimal elements, details of a modern environment in its spatial affinities with scenic spaces. A concept of integrated neo-spatialism, where technologies of camouflage are perceived exclusively through the effect they have in the environment. Years on from its birth, the archetypal vision of the new age remains in them, even in the face of hybridization between similar sectors for purposes, yet distant in their tradition of use.
The spaces dedicated to physical and mental wellbeing respond perfectly to the concept of “creative leisure“, which De Masi defines as a series of actions that make us feel free and which are necessary for the production of ideas.