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Interiors With Intention: A Mindful Approach to Furniture and Design

Soma lift desk in walnut by BDI

With almost two decades of experience in interior design, Katayoon Aghili defines her mission as “creating spaces that reflect the homeowners’ lifestyle and that, at the same time, elevate their spirit and transform their home into a sanctuary.” Helping clients live better through design is one reason Aghili loves working at Copenhagen, a contemporary furniture store with seven locations across Arizona and Texas. For Aghili, a designer at Copenhagen Scottsdale, the changing of seasons is about so much more than fun and festivities. “With inevitable change comes new promises of rewriting our destiny,” Aghili says, “and re-evaluating our needs, wants, and values to create a more fulfilling life.”

Mindfulness can be a powerful tool for helping us along this path. The leading mindfulness researcher Jon Kabat-Zinn describes this state of mind as “awareness that arises through paying attention,” while Aghili defines it for herself as “being present in every moment of our lives.”

The Benefits of Mindfulness

Research suggests that mindfulness meditation can benefit almost every aspect of human health, from cardiovascular fitness to cognitive function and, of course, mental health. What’s more, small exercises can make an instantly felt impact – “Mindfulness can be as simple as putting down your pen and taking a deep breath, changing your posture, or moving your fingers to get more blood flowing,” Aghili suggests.

By extension, mindful design can be defined as design that encourages “concentration, observation, and purposeful attention.” “As American adults,” Aghili says, “we spend 90% of our lives indoors, often dealing with stress at work or home. As a result, it’s important to create environments that calm and center us, whether through meditation or simply being mindful throughout our day.”

Aghili has noticed a growing trend among her clients of creating spaces dedicated to emotional or spiritual health. “In the past five years,” she notes, “clients have shown more interest in their spiritual well-being and their ikigai (Japanese for ‘life purpose’). If a client has to choose between an exercise room or a well-being space, they will often choose the latter.” For Aghili, it’s clear that people are extending the spirit of mindfulness to their design decisions.

Even if you don’t have an extra room that you can convert into a meditation or yoga space, there are still elements you can focus on to make any area in your interior more conducive to mindfulness.

Adjust Your Ambiance

Minimize clutter. Studies have shown that excess clutter can take a toll on mental health, decreasing focus, impulse control, and even life satisfaction – all while increasing stress. Make sure there’s enough empty space in your home so that every area can be easily reached and used for its full purpose. You may want to invest in an organizational system to keep your spaces neat, though even smaller pieces like a storage ottoman or a lift-top coffee table with compartments under the tabletop can help keep your space tidy and your mind on track.

Add touches of nature. According to Edward Wilson’s biophilia hypothesis, humans are innately drawn toward nature. This attraction isn’t only aesthetic – research shows that exposure to nature (even indoors) can lower blood pressure and improve memory and mood. Aghili says, “Having a gorgeous green plant, a humble fresh arrangement of flowers, or greenery picked from your garden and placed in a beautiful vase can remind you of your ikigai.” Don’t have a green thumb? Artificial plants will work too – like this lush and full-bodied mango tree.

Let in the light. Human physiology is deeply responsive to natural light, relying on it for everything from sleep cycles to hormone regulation to alertness and mood. Open the curtains or blinds to take advantage of the sunlight – and feel more centered and in tune with your body and nature. Create a warm nighttime ambiance by layering multiple light sources – such as the Spiral Floor Lamp, which has a graceful form with fully dimmable bulbs.

Make it personal. A mindful space should remind you of what you value most. “Surround yourself with meaningful objects,” Aghili says, “Try a beautiful collection of postcards, a group of framed pictures, or a piece of art that calms your senses and brings you joy every time you gaze at it.” Browse Copenhagen’s wide selection of art to find something that speaks to you, from a serene image of ocean waves to the vibrant Color Eyes Quadriptych.

Sense your sound levels. A quiet atmosphere is helpful for meditation and yoga, as well as for concentration in general. Consider whether one or more rooms in your house would benefit from sound-dampening panels – or use noise-cancelling headphones. A rug – like the pink-hued Caldera – can have a similar muting effect, while also adding a soft accent to a mindful space.

Sit Mindfully

The amount of time that Americans spend sitting has increased in recent years, attended by a host of health issues. Fortunately, our furniture can help us be more mindful of our bodies, encouraging us to stand more often, as well as to be more aware of our posture and comfort level when we do sit.

Give yourself a lift with a sit-stand desk. Aghili says, “A sit-stand desk is a great way to be mindful of our health, making it easy to stand up every hour for at least 15 minutes.” BDI’s Soma collection features intuitively designed lift desks in multiple sizes, from the 72” deluxe version that comes with a programmable control paddle, child lock, hanging hook, and surge protector – to the Compact Lift Desk which Aghili praises for its “minimalist design that’s great for smaller spaces.”

Embrace ergonomics. Stressless® recliners are arguably some of the most intentionally designed chairs on the market, from their integrated frame that shifts to provide lumbar support in any position, to their sturdy bases made with 32 layers of beechwood. “These chairs are incredibly comfortable,” says Aghili. “They’re endorsed by the American Chiropractic Association, and available in three different sizes. A Stressless® chair is the perfect place to relax at home and practice gratitude.”

Dine meditatively. In addition to living room and office chairs, Stressless® offers ergonomic dining chairs – like the Mint and Laurel – that offer superior back support and seats that lightly recline, letting you lean back to fully savor your meal. When shopping for dining chairs, you may also want to pay attention to features that would make a chair support a straight posture for meditation. A firm yet comfortable seat, a low and straight back, and a profile lower to the floor – as seen in models like the Flex or Hype – can make it easy to repurpose a chair for meditation.

As a last useful tip, practice mindful purchasing as well. Resist impulse-buying and carefully consider the purpose of each item you bring into your home, as well as the level of use and benefit you expect to get from it. By making tweaks to your environment and curating furniture that supports your well-being, your home can cultivate calmness, intention, and a greater connection with your body, mind, and environment. If you’re curious about how your home interiors can help you be your best self in the coming year, chat with our expert design team at your local Copenhagen today — with Arizona locations in Phoenix, Scottsdale, Gilbert, and Tucson; and Texas locations in San Antonio, Austin, and El Paso.