Wellbeing and biophilia key to future-proof construction design says Dulux ColourFutures 2019

The panel discussion gets underway at ColourFutures 2019. From left, Marianne Shillingford, Flavie Lowres, Jim Ashley-Down, Louise Tod, Rosemary Jenssen and Ted Szuman

An increased emphasis on wellbeing and biophilia in the built environment was the order of the day at a recent exploration into design trends and future-proofing construction, organised by Dulux Trade.

Hosted by Dulux creative director, Marianne Shillingford, ColourFutures 2019 brought together a panel of experts to discuss the use of colour, light and materials to cultivate a sense of wellbeing and a connection with the natural world.

Speaking to an audience of architects, designers and other construction industry professionals at RIBA in London, panellist Louise Tod, independent creative director and colourist, revealed that the “mood of the moment” is all about “awakening, kindness, resilience and optimism”, with people ready to “reconnect” with the world outside.

Louise explained how, following a turbulent 2018, which unearthed feelings of “unpredictability and social division”, Dulux Trade’s parent company, AkzoNobel has reported a shift in attitudes as people become more aware of the world around them and the built environment, referencing recent concerns over issues such as plastic pollution and climate change.

Highlighting the demand for interior colour schemes that reflect this shift in attitudes, Louise made reference to the Dulux Trade ‘colour of the year’ for 2019, the deep ochre shade of ‘spiced honey’, which is included in four interior palettes, created by AkzoNobel’s trend analysis team to capture the current zeitgeist. These comprise the ‘Think’ palette, creating ‘spaces for calm’ with ‘soft but serious’ warm neutrals and honey tones; the ‘Dream’ palette, creating ‘spaces for succeeding’, with pale blues and violets to encourage ‘imagination and relaxation’; the ‘Love’ palette, with its ‘spaces for sharing’ to ‘subliminally bring people together’ via rich warming hues and the energising ‘Act’ palette, which looks to provide ‘spaces for action’,  encouraging dynamism with colours that pop.

Louise was joined on the panel by BRE’s Flavie Lowres, Jim Ashley-Down of Waldmann Lighting, Rosemary Jenssen of Jenssen Architecture, and AkzoNobel’s Ted Szuman, who all went on to discuss the impact of building design on occupants, in a variety of settings from offices to healthcare environments, identifying a need for change with most people in the developed world spending 90% of their time indoors and stress related illness on the rise.

In her keynote speech, Rosemary Jenssen, who was also representing the ProCure 22 Framework, noted the shift in focus on sustainability in the built environment from an energy perspective to biophilic design and the welfare of occupants, describing certification such as the WELL Building Standard as a “welcome disruptor”.

Jim Ashley-Down of Waldmann Lighting also highlighted the lack of a statutory incentive for UK builders to implement biophilic building practices. He said: “If we could develop some kind of a standard around [wellbeing and biophilic design], even if it’s just a guideline rather than a regulation; that would help enable it.”

He also urged contractors to stick to the original specification and “tender projects on a realistic level” in order to deliver truly future-proof biophilic building designs, adding: “You cannot do projects like this if you have a contractor that is going to spec-break; it will fail. That [spec-breaking] practice within the contracting industry has got to change.”