Designers across the globe value the pre-design process to establish the interests of the client, emotional expression and psychological needs. But a clear imbalance still exists …
Care needs to be taken with all material types and attention given to treatments and processing in product manufacture. A pungent chemical, Formaldehyde is used in the manufacturing of many products, including synthetic carpeting especially underlays, particleboard, insulation, paints, adhesives, plywood, foam cushions and cosmetics. It is also used to soften fabrics and improve paper absorbency in paper towels. Research now shows that when it off-gases, it can irritate eyes, cause allergic reactions and trigger asthma.
Often such symptoms are lessened or even completely relieved when changes are made in the home. However, the physical problem is multi-dimensional and other aspects need to be considered as well.
For example, migraines could have been caused by environmental exposure plus may have a hormonal aspect. Or, multiple chemical sensitivities (MCS) could stem from chronic candida infection, harmful exposures to electro-magnetic fields and / or heavy metal poisoning. It is important to find a health-care professional who is experienced with environmental illness. Whether these symptoms exist or not, moving in the direction of a healthy building makes sense for everyone.
Take the example of purifying indoor air. Before you buy an electric air purifier consider plants that are able to grab and filter common pollutants found indoors and purify the air. NASA's space center has made a list of the most beneficial plants in order of their effectiveness. Having said that – how do you actually know which toxins are in your environment and which plant works best to enhance the feel-good factor of your clients? What does the staff prefer – is the spider plant, dragon lily or the date palm, which colors and flowers can add to the décor, which is easy to maintain and yet gives the best productivity results?
You could be a small establishment, a micro company, a family home or a home office but all need careful planning to realize your project. A client or a DIY enthusiast still needs to know what questions to ask a decorator or a designer. They can know more about building codes that agree with acceptable thresholds for harmful materials.
But, just as wellness is far more than absence of disease, a building that truly nurtures well-being is far more than an environment that is free of toxins. And with the change in human behavior, it is also possible that we will discover our new 'true' self. A building is a result of the aspirations and designer's ideas, but over time people who occupy and work in it take the quality of the buildings they live in. How would you feel when I say a carefully designed buildings can actually make you feel good?