Design for Wellness: Strategies to Unite Health & Design

Design for Wellness: Strategies to Unite Health & Design

by Madeleine Evans

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Thursday, June 29, 2017 - 11:15am

Design can be about many things: beauty, symmetry, color - but one of the most powerful elements of building and space design is the opportunity to impact and improve the health and well-being of people. Through thoughtful design choices like strategic placement of drinking water stations, selection of non-toxic materials and lighting that aligns with the body’s circadian rhythms, designers can be ambassadors for public health, a mission that we wholeheartedly believe in.

Here are some of our top strategies for how interior designers can keep the seven concepts of WELL in mind throughout the design process:


  • Select low-VOC materials and those without harmful chemicals to reduce off-gassing of VOCs to limit the likelihood that occupants come into contact with harmful, harsh chemicals
  • Create a healthier entryway that lowers the number of contaminants carried indoors by installing an entryway walk-off system and including an air seal
  • Design a space without permanent wall-to-wall carpeting or hard-to-reach crevices, allowing it to be cleaned more easily and effectively


  • Encourage hydration through strategic placement of drinking water stations throughout the space
  • Consider the installation of additional filtration to enhance both water quality and taste


  • Provide adequate seating to be used during meal times to allow people to engage in mindful eating
  • Use attractive signage and visual cues to encourage occupants to consume healthy foods and beverages, dissuading them from selecting an unhealthy alternative
  • Centralize the salad bar and displays where healthy food is offered, making these the most easily accessible foods and thus the more intuitive choice


  • Select light fixtures that provide appropriate lux and equivalent melanopic lux levels to prevent eye strain while also aligning with the body’s circadian rhythm
  • Reduce glare by positioning light fixtures strategically, shielding them when needed and providing shading on windows
  • Consider daylight contribution in the placement of furniture to allow for access to natural light and views of the outdoors


  • Use attractive features like natural light, art and music to create a more appealing stairwell that incentivizes people to take the stairs rather than the elevator
  • Designate an area for both showers and bicycle storage to facilitate active transportation and exercise


  • Integrate celebration of place and culture into the design to create a beautiful space where occupants are happy spending their time
  • Incorporate biophilic design, drawing upon natural patterns and elements, to allow occupants to feel a connection to nature even while indoors
  • Offer variability in room size, furniture and lighting to create opportunities for productivity as well as refuge and relaxation

Madeleine Evans is on the Technical Solutions team at IWBI, drawing upon her deep understanding of the built environment’s impact on human health and sustainability to help guide project teams through the WELL Certification process. Passionate about social justice and committed to expanding IWBI’s community impact, Madeleine spearheads IWBI’s corporate volunteer initiative and spends her free time with New York Cares teaching New York City children to read.