What is the connection between interior design, architecture and wellness? Kimberly Writt says there’s more than you think. As boundaries around what defines wellness develop far beyond the simple concept of being healthy to include sustainability, equity, accessibility and flexibility alongside physical and mental well-being, Writt, who’s always had a strong interest in health and nutrition, decided to take the leap and launch be HUE mid-pandemic. “I took time to reflect on where my passions—wellness and design—and career expertise—working with designers—could lead me, and also what gaps were missing in the wellness world,” she says. “It really was an ‘aha’ moment when I chose to focus on the home and design industry as relates to wellness in the home, because we were all so tied to our homes during that time and using rooms in multi-purpose ways that were not always meant to be multi- functional.”
“My niche proved to be an immense advantage in that way, as there was a demand for this type of coaching and many designers were going through extreme operational shifts and stressors as the industry was evolving,” she says. Writt, an integrative wellness coach, yoga and meditation instructor as well as a hygge expert, also has extensive experience in marketing and brand strategy within the interior design, architecture and real estate realms, has found a way to weave together her two worlds: wellness and design. “be HUE is a wellness brand, specially tailored for home and design professionals and enthusiasts, that focuses on wellness coaching, yoga and meditation,” she says, outlining the concept behind “MOOD. MOLD. MAKE.,” a three-month wellness-coaching program on how internal forces (mindset) and external forces (environment) are in direct conversation with one another and impact one’s energy, stress levels and perception of the world around them. “I also work directly with design and business entities through speaking engagements on relevant topics—color psychology or how to set boundaries as an interior designer—as well as yoga and meditation sessions to enhance connectivity with themselves, their colleagues and their space.”
But what do yoga and design have in common? “A direct link that is a huge emphasis of the brand is color as it relates to overall well-being. be HUE is a play off of ‘be you’ infused with color,” says Writt. “In the program, we assess how color impacts our functionality—from the nutrients we intake to our energy levels and chakras to our surroundings and how we interpret colors, textures and sensory details. In other words: how we build memories.” She goes on: “Color is wavelengths of light and each color has its own frequency, just like we as humans operate at different frequencies and are attracted to colors and people because of their frequencies. Neuroscience also supports that the brain’s processing of color releases neurotransmitters that provoke strong feelings, which can impact our mood, attention span and decision-making capabilities. This ties into the design selections we make in our home, office or private spaces, but what I like to emphasize to clients is that this also impacts how you feel in a space that is out of your control—a work event, family party, doctor’s office. What are the colors, textures and sensory details surrounding you and how is that influencing your mood? Are you able to reframe your perception and appreciate where you are regardless of these factors?”
Set to explore those boundaries even further, Writt created a yoga series taught in interior design showrooms. “I launched Yoga Curated in 2016 at Montauk Sofa and found that people were intrigued with the idea of practicing yoga in unique design spaces and appreciated networking with their peers in a more intimate way,” she says. “I was also co-chair of the DIFFA/Chicago Auxiliary Board, so it was a natural fit to have all donation proceeds benefit an organization that meant so much to me and the industry,” she says. “Since 2016, I’ve taught at nearly thirty showrooms in the city.” To her, watching others unwind and connect on a deeper level during these sessions has always served as inspiration—even more so, during the challenging past few years. “There were many elements of the pandemic that were out of our control and yoga and meditation were proven methods to help regain some of that control, even just for a breath,” she says. “We did not know what the future would hold, so coming into a practice like a body-scan meditation or 4-7-8 breathing exercise diverted those wavering thoughts or worries and instead helped individuals and clients come back to that parasympathetic state.”
“One of my favorite mantras—with anything in life—is ‘start before you’re ready.’ With yoga and meditation, it’s easy because there really is no start or end—they are lifelong practices that look and feel different for everyone during various stages of life,” says Writt, whose priority is to unite the Chicago interiors community by offering the practice in zen and inspiring design showrooms or businesses. “be HUE meets individuals and groups where they are in their meditation or Vinyasa yoga practice,” she explains. “Whether novice or seasoned, one-hour sequences grant access to an abundance mindset through thoughtful poses, breathing, stretching and silence. Participants learn to separate their thoughts from their true selves and celebrate the calm in the chaos to relieve mind-body tension and harness compassion for themselves and others. On their path to emotional freedom, they feel lighter mentally and physically until their spark is imminent.”
Think of it as a chance to get your daily dose of endorphins, to let go and relax just steps away from your desk. But what are the key elements that make a space fitting for one to look inward, you might ask? “I truly believe ‘home is where you are, not where you land,’ so while it is important to tailor a space to your liking, I also think you can harness the tools to look inward whatever setting you’re in,” she says. “My best piece of advice to design professionals is work with what you know to set up your space,” she says. “What colors inspire or calm you, what scents enable you to stay centered, what music or stillness do you need to maintain awareness? For some, this could also mean to think outside of the home as it might remind them of their profession—instead it might try to immerse themselves in nature for a walking meditation where they can feel a sense of release and absorb the natural elements.” Inside or outside the office walls, be HUE invites one to spark inspiration, boost creativity and build essential life skills, while at the same time rethinking the ways in which we improve mental and physical health. At the end of the day, what if taking a much-needed break at work involves rolling out a yoga mat in an interior design showroom with your coworkers?
Greek-born Vasia Rigou is a seasoned journalist, editor and multimedia content producer largely on the subjects of visual art, culture, architecture and design. She currently serves as an Editor at Newcity, Chicago’s leading culture publication, as Writer and Copy Editor at the International Interior Design Association (IIDA) HQ, and regularly contributes to international architecture and design magazines OnOffice and ICON. She has experience creating content for brands and building conference speeches and influential TEDx talks. Simply put: she’s fascinated by finding out the great stories behind the people, places and objects that surround us, and by sharing those stories with the world. When she’s not writing about art or looking at art—wine in hand—she makes lists for pretty much everything, drinks immense amounts of coffee and takes cross-country road trips every chance she gets.