Synchronicity for 2011-2012
This issue of HEALTHCARE DESIGN marks the 10th anniversary since its first publication. Ten years is a period wide enough to note significant shifts. How did those shifts actually occur? Which decisions led to our current reality, and what were the missed opportunities to link multiple events into more organized collaborations that could have delivered a different, more advanced reality? I could recall or dream of those events and write a historical perspective, but I would rather anticipate scenarios for the next 10 years. This is where synchronicity comes in.
To give this topic relevance, here’s a short story. The late Ray Anderson, the founder and CEO of Interface Carpets and a successful champion of sustainability, sat next to me once at an industry leadership retreat and suggested I truly learn how to remain open to possibilities, something he described as “synchronicity.” He inspired me to be receptive to clues that lead to positive change. I was so moved from that evening’s discussion that it became clear I had to heed this visionary leader’s advice.
I have since learned to be more open and receptive to why certain events occur and how they make connections to my life’s mission. It is difficult to do, and it requires moments of reflection and the constant analysis of disparate connections. Ray’s sage advice resonates, as he recently lost his battle with cancer. His generous spirit and amazing mentorship skills will allow his legacy to live on in many poignant synchronistic encounters.
I’m reflecting about my relationship with Ray because in the midst of the darkness of Hurricane Irene (I lived off the power grid for seven days), I had a chance encounter with another inspiration in the field of sustainability—Stephen Kellert, professor emeritus at the Yale School of Forestry and author of many books on the topic of biophilia. I had read his work but had not met him, even though we both hail from New Haven, Connecticut. As Ray taught me, this was no chance encounter and its timing is synchronistic. “So mid-course correction, Roz,” I hear Ray saying to me.
Stephen has been a champion of biophilic design, which is defined as “the deliberate attempt to translate an understanding of the inherent human affinity with natural systems and processes—known as biophilia (Wilson 1984, Kellert and Wilson 1993)—into the design of the built environment,” so noted in the trailer of a new film he has created with others that can be found at www.biophilicdesign.net. I, like others at The Center for Health Design (CHD), have been sensing in a synchronistic way a need to take our baseline data of knowledge, so nicely stockpiled over the past 10 years, and make some significant innovative synapses, launching scenarios for new archetypes in the next 10 years that will redefine interior environments as places of wellbeing synchronistic with the work of Stephen, Roger Ulrich, and others.
There aren’t enough pages in this magazine to lay out a full 10-year strategic plan, but there is a major shift in the practice and products of interior design coming as a result of the synchronistic events that are about to occur.
Much has been built upon a small but growing body of evidence that has defined evidence-based architectural planning issues and interior design concepts that relate to safety and sustainability, and their respective business cases. More will be learned from a broader discussion of how quality of care is achieved in the built environment and how it will evolve into a discussion about the quality of the human experience.
Several groups (the Pebble Project, Built Environment Network, Biophilia in Healthcare, Safety in Healthcare, Planetree, HEALTHCARE DESIGN.11, and other professional society meetings) will convene in the coming months. Much will be discussed and shared through conversations and inspirations about the role our buildings play in health and healing.
These synergistic conversations will move actions to other strata, and what has been accomplished in the last 10 years will pale compared to where we will go in this field in the next 10 years. Hopefully, the synergistic connections are not missed, but rather cross-pollinate through a collaborative group like CHD, whereby continued research, educational opportunities, and advocacy for getting the most poignant issues addressed through our regulatory agencies in a timely fashion will occur.
It is in these discussions that fighting to design safe/sustainable environments will be a thing of the past, and there will be the opportunity to create a new attitude about the design of our buildings, particularly for the way we live, play, learn, work, and heal in the interior environment. This is what Stephen is calling biophilic design. Keep open and notice the shifts, synchronize with your interdisciplinary teammates, and contribute to the article that will be written in 2021, which should note a decade of advancement in the design of the built environment, delivering “places of wellbeing.” HCD
Rosalyn Cama is president of CAMA, Inc. in New Haven, Connecticut, and chair of The Center for Health Design's board of directors.For more information on The Center for Health Design, please visit www.healthdesign.org.