Wellness By Design: Clodagh Harnesses the Senses to Heal

NEW YORK—Good design can support well-being. Interior designer Clodagh harnesses the five senses—sight, smell, hearing, taste and touch—to create moments of healing and tranquility in the design of hotels around the world.

“To me, wellness means that everything in design addresses the mind, body and spirit. From years of design and studying, we have a pretty good idea of what helps people to be well,” said Clodagh. “In hotels, it’s supremely important to focus on well-being as travel can be exhausting; our job is to make their destination—whether it is a pool, lounge or guestroom—a joy to be in.”

Clodagh and her creative team champion a design philosophy of life-enhancing minimalism. There is also an emphasis on building a space for guests to experience. Upon entering the East Miami in the Brickell City Centre in Miami, there are green hedges around the outer deck and the area mimics the feeling of being in the front yard of a residence. It’s a presentation that is at once striking and welcoming.

“We have seven beautiful chandeliers from a Haitian artisan outside the front door. It’s a huge, covered canopy made of wood. You have the green grounding it and incredible crystals hanging off the chandelier, which references the past and future,” said Clodagh.

Another tenet of good design is the ability to appeal to all people in different ways. For Clodagh and her design team, every step of the guest’s journey has to be special. To integrate wellness into the aesthetics, healing arts are employed.

“To do that, we have this giant toolbox of consultants and, in the more spiritual sense, we tap into the teachings of bio-geometry, Feng Shui, color chromatherapy, and scour images that date back to ancient Egyptians for inspiration,” she said. “We work with texture and smoothness. You can’t have light without shadow.”

It’s not all spiritual or introspective; there are moments of fun and whimsy in the hospitality designs Clodagh brings forth.

“We’ll use tumbled limestone for a wall, so it looks ancient. And, we like to provide people with selfie moments. It’s the best way to get the word out for the hotel, so it’s helping everybody,” she said.

When leaving a property she’s designed, Clodgah hopes guests will take with them a feeling a joy and respite.

“It’s nice to create a design that evokes our curated, very carefully minimal but comfortable ethos,” she said. “We always say it’s nice if someone says when they walk into the lobby and go ‘ahhh’ or as they enter the guestroom a deep sigh of relief comes after a long journey.”