Happy Space.

Can design inspire emotional wellbeing and healthy behaviour?

Published by:
  • Environments

Cavemen evolved a sensitivity to their surroundings in order to survive, to avoid being hunted, trampled or frozen to death. Despite the fact that we no longer have those problems, it’s instinctive to seek out environments with certain qualities.

On a primal level we need warmth, safety, shelter, comfort—the basics. But the post-modern world, with all of its hustle and bustle, has provoked a whole new set of needs we now require from our environments. This is particularly true of commercial settings, where the space around us can affect our health, our productivity and our overall emotional wellbeing. A happy worker is more likely to produce higher quality work which translates into credibility and profit for your brand. So at a base level it makes strategic sense to create a context of wellbeing for your employees.

Designing success then, is partly about designing wellbeing. But how can design inspire healthy changes in behaviour? When our Urbanite team were asked to enliven Commonwealth Bank’s Melbourne call centre and Sydney’s newly refurbished Darling Walk activity-based workplace, we seized the opportunity to bring it to life.

Former Commonwealth Bank CEO, Ralph Norris wanted to align his business and employee needs to enable stronger collaboration through ‘the provision of world-class work environments for our people.’

Here, our goal was to connect the users of the space with the new, agile environment as well as the company’s sustainability initiatives and philosophies. Using design devices such as signage, placemaking installations and environmental graphics, we were able to capture the dynamic state of change of the CBA workspace and its staff.

Our creative strategy was crafted to improve habits and modify behaviour, reflecting CBA’s drive towards completely sustainable work environments. These tools have since proven to be highly successful with the feedback to the new environment continuing to inspire positive and healthy behaviour.

A connected workplace facilitates more than productivity. It’s about designing wellbeing to enhance output.

Similarly, we developed the global branding graphics for AMEX’s Asia Pacific HQ in Sydney. The objective was to promote a personable and positive brand experience for the daily lives of employees, resulting in the creation of a visual link to the heritage of the company with a modern twist. A series of black and white photographs by renowned photographer Annie Leibovitz was reproduced in large scale, ultimately making the space more relatable and easier to connect with emotionally.

But perhaps one of our most renowned examples of designing wellbeing is the QANTAS Mascot HQ campus where we implemented an integrated signage and environmental graphics system. Designed to encourage interaction and collaboration throughout the four buildings, the signage creates a connected workplace that fosters innovation and instills a sense of pride in its employees.

QANTAS also saw an opportunity to create a more intuitive airport experience for its customers with the Next Generation Check-in Terminal, a three-step process: 1. swipe, 2. bag-drop, 3. fly, promising a stress-free check-in.

Working with QANTAS’ Creative Director, Marc Newson, we developed new graphics, signage and a total communications system engineered to activate this strategy and to promote a sense of emotional wellbeing by guiding the user through a series of positive behavioural steps from departure to arrival. The creative direction we took for the terminal videos has led to the involvement of Frost* in the QANTAS in-flight entertainment videos.

In addition, we designed an integrated signage and environmental graphics system for the redeveloped QANTAS HQ campus in Mascot. Designed to encourage interaction and collaboration throughout the four buildings, the signage creates a connected workplace that fosters innovation and instills a sense of pride in its employees.

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