The Simplicity of Wellness Design

Feature Story

Text by Steve Jarvis

Design as a discipline, as a practice, and as an objective can be defined by its forward-looking approach to the world. No matter the form, if the focus is purely on aesthetics, or motivated solely by profit, a design will ring hollow for lack of a deeper purpose. This issue of Signed is the second in a series of three that shines a spotlight on the positive role design can play in making a better society for all its inhabitants. It is an approach to design that echoes the Hong Kong Design Institute’s vision for a future based upon a Design for Well-Being philosophy.

Building on the previous issue, which explored approaches to Social Design, in the stories that follow we introduce practical examples of activities that increase the wellbeing of individuals and communities. Whether it is interacting with the elderly, the environment, or a distant other, none of the social design projects introduced here are overly complex. In fact, their effectiveness and their beauty is to be found precisely in their simplicity.

The stories in this issue demonstrate that Wellness Design doesn’t have to be complex or esoteric, but rather, it has to be inclusive and motivating. Identifying needs and optimising operation, design manifests its power by stimulating people to action; encouraging them to break through the entropy that keeps so many of us resigned to the status quo. Wellness Design helps people to identify and get in touch with something that is innately human in its attraction, and wide-ranging in its positive contribution to society at large.