Since the turn of the new millennium, investing in our health and wellbeing has become an increasingly important part of achieving our aspiration to live longer, more pleasurable and productive lives. The growing pressures and stresses of our frenetic modern lives, coupled with a growing realization of needing to adopt ‘better’ behaviour, paved the way for the wellness movement. As a result, we – as a society – have an evolving intimate and holistic knowledge of ourselves.
With advances in science and technology, the reach of the multi-dimensional wellness movement has been stretched even further. Increasingly personalized supplements have emerged, and professional-grade tools are now available for at-home use. Genetic sequencing, bioengineering, AI and augmented reality are all being used to enable individuals to achieve and optimize their physical performance.
The pandemic has pushed health to the top of everybody’s agenda and brought it closer to home. Our personal aspirations, advancement and the freedoms we enjoyed have been curbed and where progress had previously focused on the individual, technology had seen us strive for peak performance and results. But over the past few weeks, we have seen ourselves reconsider healthcare in much more essential and inclusive ways.
As the full and ultimate effects of Covid-19 are still unknown, we should consider what this means for the future of our health and wellness, in ways we can introduce both now and to prepare for the future. Specifically, how do we design the supportive systems, brands and environments that will protect and nurture our families and communities in pursuit of living a protected, adaptable and ultimately liberated life?
We will be looking to new kinds of interconnectivity – that nurture physical, mental and emotional wellbeing – through continued innovation in science, technology and design thinking. Diet, physical activity and sleep are the key factors in preserving our health and there are now important opportunities for brands to help support us in these essential areas. A health aspiration that for so long has been focused on solutions for the few is now refocused on fundamental care for the masses.
For some the restriction on physical activity was one of the most difficult aspects of the lockdown and given the interconnected nature of our own safety and protection of those around us, our neighbourhoods and communities have become one of the key aspects of the differences created by social distancing. Parc de la Distance designed by Austria based Studio Precht is a new maze-like park allowing people to be free to exercise in the outdoors, taking into account what a park would look like and how it would function with the rules of social distancing used as a design guideline.
Nourishing our vulnerable communities has also become increasingly essential, US health food company, Lifeway Foods, has donated over 50,000 servings of their immune-supporting probiotic kefir, committed to supplying food banks and shelters with nutrient-rich food and delivering fitness classes and content from wellness experts on Instagram Live to boost mental and physical health. (Source: Forbes, MeiMei Fox).
Over the course of the lockdown our homes have also truly become our sanctuaries. Household products and objects are also no longer just functional or aesthetic requirements but are taking on a far more significant role in our ongoing safety, emotional wellbeing and physiological needs. Using objects to trigger and balance our families’ moods, and make our homes become functional and emotional ‘zones’ of togetherness and tranquility.
We will want solutions where we can find the inner balance that supports our outer resilience. Number 1 portable dehumidifier brand, Hey Dewy, is all about looking good and doing good, designed to become an integral part of lifestyle and personal wellness by easily moving from car, to home, to workspace. While Nursem, is a new UK brand and range of caring hand products developed by nurses for nurses and available to the public, donating a month’s worth of hand cream to nurses and midwives for every product purchased.
“Our company is guided by three deeply held beliefs: that brands with purpose grow, companies with purpose last, and people with purpose thrive. And we think that refrain is going to be even more relevant in a post-coronavirus world than in a pre-coronavirus world.”
– Alan Jope, CEO of Unilever
In the past few months we have all been confronted with our own fragility, no matter how healthy and strong we previously considered ourselves to be, and we are all learning to live with a situation in which we have had to rethink and adapt the shape of our lives. Brands can help us adapt to this new world by leading with purpose and positivity, anticipating and answering these new need-states. Playing a central role in guiding, facilitating and influencing the management of our wellbeing, and ultimately our survival.
Nobody knows when or if we will finally be free from COVID-19, or what other future health challenges we will face. We do know, however, that as a result, the link between every aspect of our health and wellbeing has never been stronger. We now need to look to a future where we can support and curate our health, to build healthier bodies to combat new types of infection and resistant minds to deal with challenging new situations. Ultimately, designing a more accessible and democratized ecosystem of health and wellness that will keep us and our communities safe and strong.