Over the past nine months we have talked about how quarantining in the home is apt to influence interior design, from work at home scenarios to thermal scanning devices to healthier environments. Regardless of how much design and technology we incorporate into our designs, people are still shut indoors for long hours and slowly develop pent-up, highly stressful emotions. I think of it sometimes as the island effect.
Quarantining in one’s home effectively slows one’s activities, while at the same time slowing the recovery process from stressful situations. And that’s where niksen comes into play. Niksen is a Dutch word which can be translated into “doing nothing” and, most importantly, without having any purpose. As a consequence, I believe that sanctuary-like spaces inside our homes will also become a trend, along the lines of small, relaxing niksen rooms.
Strictly related with the concept of mindfulness and wellness ,niksen is already recognized as a way to recover from burnout and to become more creative in the long term. Niksen is intentional purposelessness, the opposite of distraction. Similar to meditation, but without the postures and instructions and retreats associated with the most well-known meditation techniques. Niksen can be as simple as sitting in a chair, looking out a window, and just letting the mind wander.
One aspect of niksen is that this mindlessness can soothe burnout by giving your brain time to process the massive amounts of information we take in every day. Which in turn can boost creativity. Or, as I’ve heard it referred to, “doing nothing isn’t lazy, it’s an art.”
So from a design perspective, creating a small space where you can purposefully do nothing entails a number of performance home attributes – climate control, acoustics, lighting, and of course clean air methodologies. Interior designers would be critical in order to get a décor that creates a warm and inviting space in which to do nothing – from textures to color schemes – all coming together to create a welcoming environment.
None of us are immune to stress. And self-quarantining and being cooped up for long periods of time are not only stressful, but have built-in perpetuating cycles. But setting up routines to help minimize and shed stress, including the art of niksen, is an important lifestyle habit we should all be promoting. And finding that space in which to de-stress can certainly be yet another design criteria for today’s performance home.