Opening public healing spaces are making wellbeing more accessible.

The increased awareness of wellbeing is giving rise to spaces designed for people to recharge and restore. With an emphasis on mental wellbeing, these spaces encourage people to make time for rest and reflection in the midst of their hectic schedule.

Changing lifestyles are leaving people tired and stressed. The World Health Organisation recommends a nightly sleep of eight hours, which two-thirds of adults in developed nations are failing to attain. In place of seeking a coffee shop, consumers seek a space in which to recharge and relax.

Sleep has been stigmatised with labels of weakness and laziness in this constantly connected age, when in reality leads to a multitude of bad health problems. Lack of sleep affects the body’s effective control of blood sugar. Disruption to circadian sleep and rhythms that it causes, increases the odds of developing cancers. Getting too little sleep across the adult lifespan can significantly raise your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Not to mention the negative effect on motivation and mental health.

As consumers embrace the importance of sleep, wellness centres are endorsing the movement and dividing out dedicated spaces for consumers to replenish.

Cafés tap into the growing demand for resting and healing spaces, as they provide solace for sleep-deprived individuals. The concept first birthed in South Korea, serving as a quick remedy for relaxation in the urban chaos. The healing café format is now turning mass market, with brands like Shim Story and Mr Healing, popping up all over major cities.

New wellness studios are incorporating nap stations to serve as a space to recharge the mind and body. Opening in May 2018, joint café wellness space HealHaus strives to diminish the stigma attached to healing. With a holistic focus on health and wellness, they aim to offer more diverse healing offerings through a range of mediums: from a variety of yoga and meditation classes, to more specialised workshops such as astrocartography to ear seed treatments.

Nap retreats are popping up in major cities to cater for the needs of exhausted city dwellers seeking downtime. In the alleged city that never sleeps, urban workers are taking time out to catch up with some z’s. Wellness hub Nap York advocates the benefits of sleep and markets as an alternative self-care method to help people “focus on cultivating wellness in body and mind.” Brand new stations are set to pop up across New York, as a result of the pop-up’s booming success in 2018. Designated pods can be rented for up to 4 hours. As lovely as the option of taking a nap away from home is, the idea of climbing into one of many arranged futuristic pods is one I may have to get used to.  

Sleep loss is costing the UK economy over £30bn a year in lost revenue - this equates to 2% of GDP.  London’s own Pop & Rest in Shoreditch offers a peaceful, private space to nap and meditate. Slots range from 30 min – 4 hours, cashing in on £8 for every half-hour snooze. You can even use your phone to book a nap – through the app recharge, you can book short-term stays at hotels.

Is this quick fix a permanent solution? Do these spaces advocate compromising a good night’s sleep? Could this ‘fast healing’ have the same knock-on effects as fast food – or worse? The current wellness trend is certainly here to stay, and prospects look positive for the industry. As for wellness hubs replacing coffee shops and bars – not a chance. There is certainly space in the market for an amalgamation of social interaction and wellness, as people seek to optimise their time.

These healing spaces are gradually emerging within the fashion industry.

The healing space concept was reflected at London Fashion Week in September 2018, as we saw clouds fill the halls of London’s Banqueting House.

Luxury brand accessories designer, Anya Hindmarch, created a large-scale, experimental installation inspired by the recurring cloud pattern in her Chubby Collection. In a bid to confront the pressures of Fashion Week, the Chubby Cloud served as a prompt to sleep-deprived show-goers and workers to take time to relax and lay their heads in the clouds.  

Fixed beneath the grand Rubens ceiling, the interactive installation illustrated a material manifestation of the virtues of taking a break. Guests sink as they climb and clamber over the cloud; shifting the space with every movement. Immersing the body in a soft, cushioned structure paradoxes the typical flat hard surfaces of the modern environment. The installation draws attention to the overworked and forgotten body – reawakening the body’s consciousness.

Accompanying the Chubby Cloud was a program hosting thought-provoking discussions to captivating lectures; calming music to mindful meditation; and even celebrities reading bedtime stories accompanied the fleeting pop-up.  Founder and CEO of the Business of Fashion, Imran Amed, discussed some of fashion’s most critical issues while Lisa Armstrong, Head of Fashion at the Telegraph, discussed the changing role of fashion in digital culture; Happy not Perfect - the wellbeing brand and app encouraging a more obtainable lifestyle - guided live meditation to ‘floating’ guests; futurist Sophie Hackford talked tech to sinking guests, explaining our interconnectivity as a virtual one; University of Oxford’s professor Russell Foster reviewed the biology of sleep, with focus on circadian rhythms, to nodding-off guests.

Tapping into the ‘experience’ trend, Hindmarch recognises that communicating with your consumer is necessary and highlights the importance of interaction; “today, you can do everything in your own home, on your computer, but I think people are craving experiences like this.” The event is part of her strategy of swapping seasonal product presentations for more immersive, consumer-facing events. LFW saw other fashion brands attempt to incorporate consumers; in the hype for Riccardo Tisci’s debut show with Burberry, products were released on Instagram and WeChat 24hours prior to the show.

Fashion month 2018 saw designers prioritise wellbeing and launch wellness initiatives in and outside show settings. The Model Zone, run by the British Fashion Council, was conceived to ensure the wellbeing of models throughout LFW: allocating an enclosed space dedicated to models, in which they could relax, rejuvenate and nourish themselves between shows. LFW saw The Shop at Bluebird concoct a Fashion Pharmacy as a space in which visitors could relax, recharge and rejuvenate throughout the week. Over in Paris Fashion Week, Dutch fashion designer Schueller de Waal presented a wellness centre with massages and a hypnotherapy film in place of a new collection.

We are starting to see reformation in the industry’s culture of overwork, but this is just a small step. From the wellbeing of models to underpaid – or not paid at all – interns. ​​​​​​​
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