According to a study by Delos, a wellness-design innovations company, we spend 90% of our time indoors, with two-thirds of that time spent at home. Due to the current, global health situation, we're occupying our residential spaces even more. Because of that, it's vital our homes promote our health and overall wellbeing. In this blog, we'll cover the most important elements to focus on inside your home, while also providing healthy solutions to improve the quality of your space.
We typically think of air pollutants existing outdoors, but research shows concentrations of allergins, toxins, and pollutants can be up to five times higher indoors. Poor air quality can greatly impact our health. While short-term effects include respiratory irritation, long-term adverse effects include increased risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, lung cancers, and other respiratory issues. Therefore, the level of air pollutants in our everyday spaces is vitally important.
Thankfully, a movement of wellness-inspired design solutions has swept over the design community. While we're all familiar with air purifiers and their function, the technology has rapidly advanced in sophistication and sleekness. Samsung's Cube Air Purifier, for example, uses a laser-monitoring system to provide real-time air quality measurements. Always reading the room's conditions, it adapts to and improves the air in its given space.
It's true that Americans benefit from better-quality drinking water than other countries. Our water treatment infrastructure, however, is aging and deteriorating, leading it to receive a grade "D" by the American Society of Civil Engineers in their most recent report. Additionally, the EPA has estimated that US water infrastructure needs over $734 billion in improvements.
As our systems break down, water contaminants increase. In just the past five years, nearly 77 million Americans lived in communities whose water systems violated at least one Safe Drinking Water Act rule, with over 88,000 total violations.
To help people take control of their water contaminant levels, many companies are offering professional-grade water filtration systems. Brondell, for example, offers an under-the-counter reverse osmosis (RO) water filter system that features a four-step filtering process that's 10x more efficient than typical RO systems. Award-winning Australian company, Zip, has developed a tap-system that provides instant purified chilled, boiling, and sparkling water.
Working or studying from home doesn't necessarily mean you'll be spending more time inside. However, with many businesses closing to accommodate social distancing, the need or reason to leave one's home has decreased. This could, indirectly, cause people to stay indoors more than usual. With that in mind, we need to be aware of our space's quality of light.
As discussed in a previous blog, lighting has a huge impact on our overall wellbeing. It affects our sleep patterns, our mood, our stress levels. That's why it's essential our inside spaces receive as much natural light — or light mimicking natural conditions — as possible during this time.
Top-of-the-line, smart home light integrations — like Delos's Darwin circadian lighting and Ketra's human-centric dynamic lights — mirror natural light patterns. These do require more advanced installations (and we highly recommend them for future projects), but the Eria smart lightbulb kit can be implemented right away. As featured in our Healthy Design: Lighting blog, this smart kit allows users to activate a circadian light setting and the Color Rendering Index (CRI) of these bulbs is 90+. (CRI measures the color an object looks under artificial light in contrast to natural light, with a 90+ rating deemed as "excellent" light.)
By now, we've probably all given our homes a scrub down (or two) and we're definitely more conscious about the surfaces we touch when arriving home. With that said, many of us will neglect cleaning the cleaning tools themselves, leaving us exposed to unwanted contaminants. For that reason, we recommend touchless cleaning solutions.
Typically, we don't think of touchless hand dryers or paper towel dispensers in the home. In fact, touchless soap dispensers just recently joined hand-sensor trashcans as semi-common household products. Appliances like these, however, can make all the difference when trying to keep a sanitized home.
Robot vacuums and mops can also be great solutions. Our daily habits and cleaning routine have already changed so much, so if there's a tool out there that can operate on a consistent schedule (giving you one less thing to think about) take advantage of it!
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HEALTHY DESIGN: CLEANING SUPPLIES BLOG!
As stated earlier, we spend 90% of our lives inside, and 66% of that time at home. So no matter the situation, it's important your home promotes healthiness. If it seems like too many solutions to implement on your own, no worries! We're here to help.
In February 2020, Beyond's head designer, Juliana Oliveira, traveled to Spain with a group of Dallas designers to tour the home facilities of Porcelanosa. As an international modern design firm, we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to learn from the elegant, cutting-edge, design-solutions company whose products we often use in the spaces we design. We thought the trip would provide us a sneak peek into their latest innovations, but the experience gave us so much more.
One of the central elements of the trip was the tour of Porcelanosa’s home facility. As Daniel Sacco from NMDArch said, “Experiencing Porcelanosa firsthand is a discovery paramount to any relevant designer today.” For Juliana, this couldn’t have been more true. “[The tour] gave us a completely new perspective on innovative design and fabrication of top-of-the-line products and solutions,” she said. “Also, it was inspiring to see the way Porcelanosa is using their product from an international perspective, allowing us designers to broaden our horizons and think outside-the-box when creating new spaces here in the US.”
Additionally, Juliana saw an emphasis on natural materials during her tour — natural stone, real wood, and even man-made materials that mimic naturals ones. This, in particular, excited her, for biophilic design has greatly influenced Juliana's approach to design. It was even more exciting to see their newest technology Krion, a material Porcelanosa developed with air-purifying qualities.
To complement the tour of the Spanish company's facilities, Porcelanosa took the group to some of Spain's most influential cities in terms of design. This part of the trip allowed the Dallas designers to experience firsthand the architectural and cultural influences on Porcelanosa.
For Juliana, the rich and lively atmosphere of Madrid captivated her. “The vibrancy of the colors and materials, as well as the detail in the architecture, was very influential to me,” she said. It reminded her of another key element of Porcelanosa’s newest line — boldness. Bold colors and finishes, even in countertops and cabinetry.
Her time in Valencia also left quite an impression on her. As the birthplace of world-renowned architect and engineer, Santiago Calatrava, the city has been shaped by his architecture. "Calatrava's scale, lines, and clear inspiration from nature was refreshing and impactful to my experience in Spain," Juliana said.
Calatrava's modern work grows out of the ancient Spanish grounds, placed next to centuries-old buildings. The group loved his about Spain, or European travel, in general. “European travel always gives me an added architectural glimpse of the juxtaposition between historical and new,” said Rene Gracia, founding partner of RGD+B. Juliana, too, loved seeing “the marriage of the old and the new.”
Perhaps most surprising about Juliana’s trip was how sharing it with other design professionals elevated the overall experience. “We were able to bounce ideas off one another, expanding the conversation beyond what was relevant to just one person or firm, “ she said. As a group of builders, interior designers, and architects, “each of us came out looking for something different — different solutions for our specific challenges. And, as each of our questions were answered, we were exposed to all of the given solutions, enriching each of our professional perspectives.”
Daniel, too, felt the Porcelanosa experience was only enhanced by sharing it with other designers from his community. “Take a group of passionate, hard-working & creative design professionals from the DFW area and fully immerse them in Spanish culture and the Porcelanosa brand and lifestyle, characterized by excellence and sophistication — it's hard not to walk away feeling inspired and awestruck.”
Juliana’s experience with Porcelanosa makes her excited for the future of design solutions, and she can’t wait to start implementing them here in the United States.