BBC StoryWorks: Room to Grow

Vera Iconica Architecture is excited to present our wellness story, Room to Grow, as a part of BBC StoryWorks’ new series The Art & Science of Living Well.

The series curates local stories about health and healing through a global lens to educate and inspire viewers. When the Global Wellness Institute partnered with the BBC to bring these stories to life, we felt called to engage and bring our message of wellness to the world. The series weaves interviews and storytelling by world-renowned experts and everyday humans alike to cover topics encompassing architecture, music, personal image, sleep, circadian rhythms, rituals, places of respite, confidence, nutrition, and dance. Our story is, of course, about wellness architecture.

Vera Iconica's purpose is to create spaces that optimize the well-being of people and the planet. We believe in the power that designers have to influence the world’s environments, which can either promote or detract from the health and well-being of the people occupying these built spaces. By sharing our story, we hope to inspire people to make shifts in their daily lives that will ultimately benefit themselves, their families, and their communities. “We are all moving too fast and it's a sickness that's creating mental unwellness, right?” explains Vera Iconica Architecture founder and CEO, Veronica Schreibeis Smith. “So, the difference between elevating a routine into a ritual is the level of consciousness and mindfulness that’s behind it. We need those in our life today more than ever.”

In Room to Grow, Veronica discusses her background and how her inherent inclination to play and to build has been present since childhood. She reminds us to embrace creativity and get outside of our "adult brains" to experiment and find joy. In parallel, she introduces the science that backs health and wellness, particularly when it comes to design.

One such driving force behind Veronica’s mission and passion for wellness is her knowledge of the work by Jonas and Jonathan Salk, most notably their book World Population & Human Values: A New Reality. A renowned psychologist and author, Jonathan Salk, MD, joins Veronica in the segment to remind viewers of the need for change in human perspective and the necessary ways we must evolve toward a more sustainable and reciprocal approach to design, communities, and life. For Veronica and the work we do at Vera Iconica, this means reframing historic architectural assumptions to design spaces that will enhance the longevity, vitality, and happiness of future generations.

“I always say that I’m actually an experience designer and architecture happens to be my medium,” Veronica explains in the segment. “And what we really want to do when designing wellness architecture to design spaces that nourish and uplift our soul.”

One of Vera Iconica's guiding principles is that fully functional environments must cultivate all dimensions of wellness. To accomplish that goal, our work considers 68 carefully selected criteria to enrich cognitive and physical health and performance, emotional resilience, beauty and ritual, humanity, and the environment. Take the Vera Iconica Wellness Kitchen™ at the WHIT home in Lake Nona, Orlando, Florida. First of its kind, our team at Vera Iconica designed the Wellness Kitchen to revolutionize the outdated yet readily accepted concepts of kitchen design. The Wellness Kitchen establishes the kitchen as the true heart of the home, optimized to bring ease and joy back to nourishing families with a nutrient-rich, whole food diet. It embodies novel approaches to food growing, storage, preparation, replenishment, and disposal, all in an environment that enhances family and social connectivity.

“How do we find the essential quality in something?” Veronica continues, “Because that's what, at the end of the day, brings the most richness to our life. If we find the essential quality of the place that we're designing for, the landscape, the culture, and the people, that is what ends up really creating this beautiful fabric.”

With Veronica's leadership alongside our small but mighty team of industry experts, we guide our clients through a series of exercises in order to co-create uplifting environments that elevate daily routines into effortless rituals. At the beginning of a project, visioning sessions with clients focus on revealing their optimal routines, rituals, and what kind of spaces make them feel good.

"One of the things we ask our clients when we're beginning a project with them is asking them what places inspire them, what places give them peace, what places invigorate them or rejuvenate them. Just asking those questions, and why you feel good in a certain place, is the right question to ask," elaborates Christopher Hancock, Principal Architect and Director of Professional Services. This kind of intimate conversation allows us to create highly personalized design solutions that cater to our clients' desires and lifestyles. The outcome? Regenerative spaces that help our clients reach their highest potential for years to come.

Watch Room to Grow here. We hope you find inspiration in our story as well as the wellness stories showcased from around the world.

Image Credit: Windsong Productions