MINDFUL DESIGN: FLOAT YALETOWN SPA
Design is always a creative process, but I recently had to learn the art of making design a mindful process. I was asked to design the space for Float Yaletown, the city’s newest floatation therapy studio. The team behind Float Yaletown had an overall vision, and wanted to work with me on bringing the essence of relaxation for the mind and body into visual fruition.
Before I could undertake the design, I first needed to get a grasp of what ‘floating’ is and the mindset behind the people who make it a part of their wellness routine. Essentially, floating is the use of a large, enclosed salt water bath designed to minimize sensory input to the brain. The float ‘pods’, or baths, are filled with 10 inches of purified water and temperature controlled to match that of your body, combined with 800 pounds of dissolved Epsom salts; therefore, the body is not reacting to a noticeably warm or cool soak, nor is any muscle group engaged, as the salts create complete buoyancy. The pods are enclosed, minimizing both light and sound, creating a solitary space free from external stimulation.
As I tried to determine my demographic for the design of the space, I quickly realized that people from all age groups and experiences rely on floating for personal improvement; I had heard the term, but came to see that truly, floating is for everyone.
Without a specific demographic (usually a key element to any décor), I began the design approach by breaking down the different elements of a space and looking at how each could represent the principles behind the floating movement. My four main elements to work with, from structure to décor, were: finishing materials, palette, texture and life.
The finishing materials set the tone for a natural-inspired, serene space; we used raw slate floors throughout to ground the spa, and brought in varied forms of natural stone in the showers of the individual rooms, ranging from miniature pebbles to wood grain stone tiles (that the designer in me couldn’t resist having installed in a herringbone pattern). Different forms of wood were introduced within finishes and furnishings, acting as another earth element for the décor.
As we explored palette, a tone-on-tone range of naturals was the clear choice; from fresh whites to intimate ivories to soft, saturated greys, the feeling of an airy, weightless space came together. Layering the tones with the saturated picks closer to the ground (the floor tiles and the wood pieces) the mid-range whites, ivories and naturals at seating height and reserving the brightest, coolest whites for the walls and ceilings allowed for a space that both invites you in, encourages you to engage, yet still has the open, fresh appeal of minimalist design.
Anytime you’re playing with a relatively monochromatic décor, texture becomes a key factor. To retain visual interest, a variety of textures and materials were brought into the main room, with the soft tactile experience balancing out the clean lines and minimal palette. Natural linens, white velvets and crisp cottons within the plush seating area play off the wood frames and jute area rug, creating an inviting corner for spa guests to refocus without being bombarded with pattern or colour.
I felt that it was essential to bring life into the décor. Literally. Much different than a residential space, the spa didn’t suit layers of accessories; rather, a clutter-free approach was key. I therefore opted for an array of different plant life to create the details, feeling the importance of living décor. Books (my ultimate go-to for creating a room) were lightly introduced, and small hits of natural rocks and crystals pulled the look together while remaining on brand. A few statement art pieces (stellar vintage finds) polished off the design, with tranquility at the forefront of my focus.
Now open in the heart of Yaletown (1059 Cambie), Float Yaletown has become a can’t-miss space for Vancouverites, and has positioned itself as a pillar within the wellness community. Regularly hosting collaborative events with yoga experts, meditation groups and other local businesses, the spa has also become a recurring stop for the women’s national soccer team, hockey players and even bands like Mother Mother. With an amazing team and a mindful design, Float Yaletown has created a relaxing space for self-reflection, introspection and meditation.