The Hottest Wellness Trends in 2017
It’s that time in January when enthusiasm for the universal New Year’s resolution to get in better shape is already flagging. But as we try out new classes and the new trends in self-care practices, it’s hard not to notice that we’re in spaces that are bold, clean, light, and airy. Gone are the days of working on that resolution in jerry-rigged boxing gyms and hastily painted aerobics rooms. (Sorry, “Sweating to the Oldies”!)
Today’s health, wellness, and beauty practitioners are fierce advocates for high-quality design aesthetics and social-media-ready moments. How things look and feel are, logically, at the heart of businesses built around healthy eating, fitness/mind-body, and complementary/alternative medicines. In 2017, everything from the typography to chairs, lighting to cookbooks is killing it with a new attention to aesthetic pleasure. It’s the new branding trend in wellness.
Holistic design is, like holistic health, an approach that emphasizes the functional relationship between various parts in creating the whole of the design. It, too, emphasizes the connection of mind, body, and spirit. The holistic design process aims to enriches the lives of those who use its products and spaces. Seeing holistic health practices in holistically designed spaces makes it easier to see what design can and should do for wellness in this day and age.
Reviewing an incomplete list of complementary and alternative medicines like acupuncture, ayurveda, chiropractic medicine, herbalism, hypnosis, massage therapy, meditation, naturopathy, nutritional therapy, osteopathic manipulative therapy (OMT) will surely lead the average American of 2017 to recognize something a friend or relative has tried.
It is partially the rebranding of these treatments that has made it so—these days, any one of Kim Kardashian’s 89.7 million followers on Instagram or 49.3 million followers on Twitter can see her receiving acupuncture treatments. If the patron saint of the bling lifestyle is advocating for alternative medicine that you know things have changed.
Previously, these types of medicine were sought out only by the adventurous or well-traveled, people with cultural and family histories of using these treatment modalities, and other niche users. Now, thanks to celebrities, and other advocates, your average USA Today subscriber knows about the ancient practice of cupping and more. Thanks, Michael Phelps!
What is the Wellness Space?
Wellness is now a $3.72 trillion global industry. Categories of wellness businesses vary, but consider the following major ones and their market values in recent years:
Each one can be expanded into seemingly infinite iterations by entrepreneurs and enthusiasts.
The division between fitness businesses and mind-body businesses is something that in the past would have looked like gym vs. studio. Fitness can mean anything from boxing to personal training, cross-fit, pilates, spinning, rock climbing, pilates, barre, rowing, running, weight training, aerial, and parkour. Mind-body businesses often focus on the spiritual, through meditation, chanting, Tai chi, qigong, or the apparently endless types of yoga, including practices like Ashtanga, Hatha, Iyengar, Kripalu, Kundalini, and more.
Just like health and wellness gurus, health and wellness businesses have to rebrand to stay current in 2017. Not because there’s a scarcity of clients, customers—or competition—rather because there is such demand for these services, spaces and products. In our highly mediated “reel world,” the crunchy, hippie version of health that used to thrive no longer does. Clients who come to feel cleansed, rejuvenated, and shed of the constant digital barrage, if only temporarily, need spaces that feel fresh and are minimally distracting. Likewise, the current trend in online wellness branding, from a targeted web presence to social platforms, is sleek, clean design that feels welcoming. You don’t need to toss your crystals—but they should be nestled in an well-designed interior.
For example, you can get crystals and sound therapy at The Standard Miami, in an atmosphere created by its bold, minimalist design. Sound therapy streams sound waves through the body. The vibrations are supposed to clear the body and mind “for a profound integration with the flow of gravity.” Sessions can be had with crystal sound bowls didgeridoo, or tuning forks.
Health and wellness businesses like workout spots, vegan restaurants, yoga, and acupuncture are now, for the first time, on the cutting edge of design. Time was, the look of a hardcore, industrial boxing gym was in. No more. Health and wellness has gone uptown—so much so that Vogue Magazine is now taking cues from the industry, as in its recent article “Meet the Next Wave of Chic L.A. Wellness Gurus,” which argues, “Lately, a new crop of organic chefs, herbalists, healers, and fitness proponents are following the Bacon (as in Amanda Chantal of Moon Juice) blueprint, broadcasting their missions with a distinct sense of style (and killer Instagram accounts).”
These days there aren’t just spas and studios but are emerging wellness “hubs”, like the Springs in LA. The design team responsible for its striking look, architectural firm Design, Bitches, described the space as a “crisp, bright pause amidst the industrial exhaust.” Raw and blue-stained plywood and cement floors, roll-up garage doors are combined with fig and palms trees in planters greet clients. Springs not only offers a “raw, vegan, organic, soy free and gluten free” menu, but also provides yoga, colonics, soundbaths, and Breakti.
Complementary and Alternative Medicine Trends
Complementary medicine is often combined with mainstream medical care, like using acupuncture to help with side effects of chemotherapy. Health care providers and facilities that offer both types of care are called integrative medicine. Alternative medicine, however, is used in the place of mainstream medical care.
Traditional Chinese medicine, like cupping and acupuncture, is gaining mainstream acceptance in the U.S. There are 30,000 licensed practitioners across the country — 46 states issue licenses, which often require a master’s degree and continuing education credits. That makes branding one of the big factors in setting these small business owners apart!
More open spaces and low light are trends that Candace and David Combs, the sister and brother team who own and operate In-Symmetry Wellness Spa in San Francisco, have been seeing in businesses designed to calm clients’ nerves. “Clean lines, smokey orange colors, and Buddhist [touches]” are increasingly popular, too.
One thing both Combses have noticed is how much more educated their clients are now than they used to be. “Hands down,” says Candace, “clients know more about health and their bodies [now]. Conversations [with clients] are really different.” Perhaps that’s part of the reason for memberships are another trend Candace and David are seeing at businesses like theirs.
The lifestyle blog Black Girl In Om “creates space for women of color to breathe easy.” The site offers inspiring articles like “Black Yogis Exist and Yes, We Matter.” The look is fresh, chic—minimalist typography, on-point photography—and caters to people of color who have been largely left out of the white-leaning wellness scenes of years past. It’s designed with the new now in mind, a snapshot of what’s now and what’s to come in 2017!
The face of healthy eating has also changed. It’s more chic and more diverse, all while managing to be more mainstream. You’re as likely to see the Instagram of fashion-forward Natasha James (Rawcells Organic Vegan Treats) bringing veganism to the people as you are to see those gnarly PETA flyers floating around town.
Because being health-conscious is a way of life in 2017, the design, branding, and marketing of suppliers, practitioners, and tastemakers in this industry need to be cutting edge. Health eating businesses can no longer live as outliers on the outskirt of marketing and design. The social web makes it too easy to see everything before you try it! If you don’t look good you won’t get a chance to make people feel good.
Light, fresh, and clean is now the hallmark of wellness, and it works in any geographic locale. Indeed, examples of cool wellness practitioners and indie purveyors of healthy eating seem to be ubiquitous. Wellness trends in particular tend to develop legs on the coasts; consider the now-inescapable Moon Juice, and deliciously earthy-fresh restaurant Sqirl, or take a tour of musical artist Moby’s vegan-only Little Pine restaurant, complete with mid-century modern designer chairs, all in Los Angeles.
In Seattle, Juicebox and brand new plant-based ice cream maker Frankie and Jo’s share an owner and a fresh aesthetic. Across the country in New York City is Heather Tierney’s juice bar and cafe, The Butcher’s Daughter. Tierney’s own design firm “outfitted the space as a pretty, feminine take on an old-world, masculine butcher shop.” Tierney combined industrial elements, like “concrete floors, steel metal hooks, heavy iron butcher rails” with “softer, earthy materials like beached raw wood, white tile, brick and greenery growing out of an old chicken coop.”
Turmeric may bump coconut off the top spot in 2017. Its most recent iteration is a latte that’s already been tagged over 10,607 times on Instagram. Gorgeous AND modern.
This year may when wellness, alternative medicine, and healthy eating become not just mainstream but necessary to survive the everyday grind. This trifecta of healthcare may take its rightful place as preventative medicine, especially given the upheaval in the “mainstream” healthcare system.
Design and branding of spaces on and offline will need to be executed with restraint, intention and deep commitment. People on both coasts have had a love affair with alternative fitness for many years, and the trend is expanding. Kale salads, bean pastas, fermentation, date sugar, and maybe even lamb jerky are here to stay. Now, as we enter the GOOPiest year yet, is the time to rebrand.