Domus 919 Special Wellness
The concept of wellness continues to seduce millions (maybe billions) of people. Wellness-related habits are a contemporary reformulation of the age-old practice of ‘taking care of oneself’, a long tradition that unites east and west in a crossing of purifying rituals, ablutions, thermae, Turkish baths and more - practices and therapies that are all very different from one another, but share a common denominator: the body as a point of intersection between the mind and the world. For many centuries, the body was charged with negative connotations, flagellated, abused and hidden. The only bodies shown were the anatomical kind, reduced to a picture, a biological mechanism. The rediscovery of the pleasures of the human body on a public level and without the penalty of judgement is the offspring of a non-religious vision of enlightenment, which inaugurated a representation of the body as a complete and indivisible presence of concepts and feelings of love, sensations and representations, projects and desires. The body inhabits and feels the world even before thinking about it. It takes care of the world by taking care of itself. So, the roots of bodily care run a lot deeper than the hedonistic adoration of the fetish-body, where there is, among other ambitions, an aspiration to eternal surgical youth (the Jeune-Fille theory) Wellness, like well-being, is the idea of our existence being in harmony with the world around us (the ancient eudaimonia or “human flourishing”), something similar to what is called “happiness” for simplicity’s sake. Happiness (and this term is only seemingly ingenuous) refers to a state of mind, and is different from economic prosperity. Often in recent years, these two spheres have been confounded. Many have tried compulsively to find wellness in business, and the quality of emotions in the quantity of objects. But this trick is doomed to fail. Wellness, the balance of mind-body-spirit, has nothing to do with money. It is dependent on an irreducible series of factors within which the body must be considered as the ethical and aesthetic centre of our worldly existence. And because the body is intrinsically linked to space, we can say that wellness is always produced within the temporal and spatial coordinates of living. Taking care of oneself, thriving, the ability to have a harmonious way of living, relies in the first place on architecture and design as professions that create space and things in that space. Today, wellness professionals are architects and designers who embrace the new forms and requirements of eudaimonia. And above all, they relate to new bodies, bodies that are different from those of the past, contemporary bodies that are rapidly changing their appearances and proportions and stand at the centre of an evolution of which we do not yet know the outcome. They are bodies that need tending to, that aspire to melding with Wellness.

“Second Nature”, Domus’s special edition for November, reports on relevant proposals and solutions that wellness has given to all kinds of challenges formulated by the body.