Wellness design for your mind, body and spirit with Joshua Smith

In recent years “wellness design” and “home health” have become popular topics of conversation between designer and client, with an increasing number of homeowners seeking spaces that nourish their mind, body, and spirit. 

As of January of this year, you can officially get your residential projects WELL certified the way you can get them LEED certified. But, the stereotypical “look” of a wellness space, often associated with a meditation retreat or Japanese spa aesthetic, has been a limiting factor for this movement, as it was for sustainability. 

It takes determined designers who genuinely walk the walk –be it for sustainability or wellness– to break free from the mold. Vermont-based interior designer Joshua Smith is one such designer. He is a firm believer that there is no one-way to be well. Wellness, like sustainability, is an approach, not an aesthetic.  

Design by Joshua Smith | Photograph by Tim Lenz

This week on Disruptive Design, Joshua Smith discusses his “Find Your Home Within” wellness design philosophy and how he uses neuroaesthetics to make customized design decisions for his clients and for his new furniture line, Hedra, in collaboration with Model No. Press play on the video below to watch the discussion:

Joshua Smith on finding your home within

Smith’s “Find Your Home Within” interior design philosophy centers on creating environments that reflect each client’s authentic self, fostering a sense of purpose and joy in daily living. His approach begins with an in-depth discovery process, exploring his client’s values, lifestyle aspirations, and how they want to feel in their space.

Design by Joshua Smith | Photograph by Tim Lenz

“When your home is a reflection of who you are and how you want to live, it has the power to enhance your sense of purpose and bring greater joy and meaning to daily living,” says Smith.

Design by Joshua Smith | Photograph by Allyson Lubow

There is no one way to be well

Much like the sustainability movement, which initially struggled with a narrow aesthetic interpretation, wellness design is just beginning to break free from preconceived notions. Smith’s work for clients does not adhere to one stereotypical “wellness” look. There is no single path to achieving a nurturing, restorative environment. Take, for example, the image below of the bedroom designed by Smith, maximized with layers of color and pattern, and transitional elements not often associated with wellness spaces but nevertheless, it checked the boxes for his client.

Design by Joshua Smith | Photograph by Read McKendree

His new Hedra furniture collection, launched in collaboration with Model No., however, does embrace a more traditional wellness aesthetic. The collection, consisting of seven pieces crafted from Model No.’s innovative bio-resin, finds inspiration in the geometries of crystals and modernist design principles. With its minimalist, earth-element-inspired aesthetics, the Hedra collection aims to reach a wider audience, democratizing Smith’s “Find Your Home Within” philosophy.

“Taking a ‘less is more’ approach, each piece features clean lines and angles reminiscent of origami,” says Smith, “But it was also important that the collection integrates with the natural desert landscape.”

The customizable indoor/outdoor Hedra designs, including resin, hardwood, and upholstered pieces, embody Smith’s belief that beautiful spaces should engage all the senses and connect our interior and exterior lives.

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Wellness is for everyone

For luxury clients seeking transformative spaces, Smith offers comprehensive interior services from consultations to full residential design through his studio. With Hedra, he’s also making his design philosophy accessible to the masses.

Smith’s Hedra collection moodboard

“Living beautifully means making the mundane meaningful and feeling renewed in your spirit and space,” Smith says. “It shouldn’t be reserved for just the elite.”

Neuroaesthetics in design

In his interior design work, Smith leans on neuroscience and “neuroaesthetics” principles about how aesthetics shape emotions and well-being, the study of how one’s brain interprets and responds to their perception of beauty. “We now know what’s happening in the brain chemically when we enter a space that resonates with us,” he explains. “Our nervous systems can release that feeling of calm and renewal.” His goal is to create living spaces that feel like nurturing sanctuaries from life’s stresses, while understanding what stresses one person out may calm another.

Kitchen by Joshua Smith | Photograph by Lisa Romerein

With the grand opening of his new Manchester Center, Vermont-based showroom and the launch of the Hedra collection, 2024 is an exciting year for Joshua Smith, as he continues to redefine what it means to design for wellness, accessibility, and authenticity. Learn more about Joshua Smith, his new collection and showroom here.

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