Making Matter, Matter – Video Series by VOLA
London, United Kingdom

Photography Chris Turner
Words Bronwyn Marshall

As part of VOLA’s series of short films focused on architecture and design, founding director of StudioIlse Ilse Crawford speaks to the importance of design as an expression of our innate values. The short film, titled ‘Wellness and Wellbeing’, is the exploration of the dialogue about “making matter, matter.”

Tapping into and optimising access to our senses, StudioIlse’s driving ethos and principles stem from a central core of authenticity – one born from connecting people to place and feeling. As an integral conversation on the importance of connection to our designed and imagined worlds, VOLA’s short film ‘Wellness and Wellbeing’ (as part of a series of films on architecture and design) taps into the musings behind StudioIlse’s founding director, Ilse Crawford. The film explores the ideals of both wellness and wellbeing, through an understanding that these two are not merely destinations but part of a much larger, living and breathing crafted system. The focus of the film is about the maker and creator, and the process and exploration behind creating a layered life, adding a unique quality to spaces and embracing our engagement with the tactile and the intentional.

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VOLA’s short film ‘Wellness and Wellbeing’ (as part of a series of films on architecture and design) taps into the musings behind StudioIlse’s founding director, Ilse Crawford.

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The film unfolds as a conversation with British designer Ilse Crawford, whose origins in design began as the founding editor of Elle Decoration. Her ingrained passion and understanding for the exploration of architectural space, and uncovering a layered sense of soul, of purpose, and the origins of these emotive elements of design and architecture, are essentially the motivation for founding StudioIlse. The studio concentrates on the whole environment, holistically, emphasising the makers as well as the user. The focus, she says, “is on where things come from, who they sustain, where they go and how its crafted and how it can change the way we live.” She adds, “The world we make will always be an expression of our values, but if you want to make matter matter, those values have to be embedded from the beginning to create a true sense of wellbeing.”

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“The world we make will always be an expression of our values, but if you want to make matter matter, those values have to be embedded from the beginning to create a true sense of wellbeing.”

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VOLA’s film explores how design can enhance and support everyday activities, but also how it is an extension of our behaviours and attitudes.

Having designed spaces for Soho House Group and Aesop, as well as a sustainable furniture range for Ikea, StudioIlse is founded on principles of longevity and substance. Ilse says, “before design, there is empathy, without it, there is no good design.” Her work is an extension of this ethos. VOLA’s film explores how design can enhance and support everyday activities, but also how it is an extension of our behaviours and attitudes. This is the connecting conduit for the role of wellbeing and wellness in design. Ilse explains that understanding how people live within a space is the launchpad for all resulting design interventions. She reflects on the importance of “focusing on understanding the real needs of people and lives that will be lived within a space before even thinking about aesthetics. This understanding distils down to what makes us human and makes full use of our innate senses.”

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VOLA’s film explores how design can enhance and support everyday activities, but also how it is an extension of our behaviours and attitudes. This is the connecting conduit for the role of wellbeing and wellness in design.

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As an integral conversation on the importance of connection to our designed and imagined worlds, VOLA’s short film ‘Wellness and Wellbeing’ (as part of a series of films on architecture and design) taps into the musings behind StudioIlse’s founding director, Ilse Crawford.

Focusing on StudioIlse’s Ett Hem, a boutique hotel in Stockholm (whose name quite simply means ‘a home’), the film explores the attention given to wellness and wellbeing in the practice’s work. Originally designed by architect Fredrik Dahlberg in 1910, formerly a home and now a hotel, the planning and internal layout was derived from the original plans and blueprints, reinstating original positioning. For StudioIlse, “Ett Hem wasn’t simply about creating a ‘homely’ hotel, it was about continuing the existing home’s story.” In creating spaces that connect to our senses, there is an ability to conjure nostalgia and induce emption. Ilse says, “It’s important to design for the senses because we are primal creatures and we read our environment through the senses. They are still what connects us to the world no matter whether we feel that intelligence is a more valuable thing. I believe our senses are another intelligence.” With wellbeing at the core of her studio and work, imagining environments that respond to and have a positive effect on our lives is imperative. Ilse adds, “We spend 87% of our lives inside buildings, how they’re designed really affects how we feel and how we live.”

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“Focusing on understanding the real needs of people and lives that will be lived within a space before even thinking about aesthetics. This understanding distils down to what makes us human and makes full use of our innate senses.”

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At the heart of the film is a message (captured in the ethos of both StudioIlse and VOLA) that, “As we continue to live in a time of constant stress and hyper-stimulation, more emphasis is placed on finding moments to just slow down and feel grounded.” The VOLA film series will continue to explore our connection to design and continue to unfurl the many layers and intent behind our imagined spaces, connecting us all. As Ilse expresses it – “Good design is more than the way it looks. It is about making sure the human experience is prioritised. It’s about wellbeing and making life better – not just for us, but for others and the environment. Man is not an island.”

Wellness and Wellbeing’ is the third film to feature on VOLA’s web-based platform On-design, which spotlights striking architecture projects from across the globe and shares insights from industry professionals. The inaugural film showed Jonas Bjerre-Poulsen – founding partner of Norm Architects – delving into his experience and growing up in Denmark, and explaining how design is intrinsic to Danish culture.

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“We spend 87% of our lives inside buildings, how they’re designed really affects how we feel and how we live.”

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For StudioIlse, “Ett Hem wasn’t simply about creating a ‘homely’ hotel, it was about continuing the existing home’s story.”
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In creating spaces that connect to our senses, there is an ability to conjure nostalgia and induce emption.
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Wellnessandwellbeing Ilsecrawford Filmstills 22 Min Scaled
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Published 18 February, 2020
Photography  Chris Turner
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