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Wellness Inspires Winner of 'Space to Be You' Pod Design Contest

May 8, 2023
The winner of the second annual “Space to Be You” pod design contest infuses biophilic and acoustic elements to create a refuge within busy commercial interiors.

It should come as no surprise that there is a movement to redefine and promote wellness across the landscape of the built environment—from our cities, schools, workplaces, homes and just about every space between. In fact, according to Gensler’s 2023 Design Forecast, “Principles of wellness have evolved based on a growing body of scientific evidence that codifies and measures how the built environment can enhance our sense of wellbeing. Wellness must be elevated to the prominence it deserves with strategies that embrace biophilia, promote physical movement, support mental wellbeing and foster inclusion for all individuals.”

It’s fitting then that the winner of this year’s second annual “Space to Be You” pod design contest, produced by SnapCab and i+s, goes to an entry aptly named “The Biophilic Portal.” Designed by Shiri Shubbar, Associate AIA and NCIDQ-licensed interior designer at Alphatec PC, the winning design was selected from an impressive number of entries from our readers who were invited to customize their dream pod on the SnapCab website and submit it along with a brief conceptual write-up about their designs. We then put the entries to a popular vote on the i+s Instagram account, and The Biophilic Portal came out on top.

As the winner of the 2023 contest, Shubbar will receive a $1,000 cash prize and an all-expense paid trip to Chicago for the show. Her winning pod also will be designed by SnapCab and unveiled at NeoCon during a reveal party on Sunday, June 11 from 3:30-5 p.m. CT on the first floor of THE MART in the north lobby.

“This was our second annual Pod Design Contest where we encouraged designers to get creative with the customizable abilities of our SnapCab pods,” said Carla Bostock, marketing manager and art director at SnapCab. “Applicants to our pod design contest showed an impressive range of creativity and ingenuity, which we wholeheartedly embrace and love to celebrate. Shiri’s Meet 2 pod model concept, featuring a stunning biophilic wall, is a testament to this. Working with Shiri to bring her vision to life was a true pleasure, as we collaborated to manufacture her innovative design.”

Inspiration Behind the Design

As with any great idea, the winning pod design emerged from an evolutionary process in Shubbar’s design thinking. Through education and professional development, her design philosophy as a whole deviated from a focus on pure aesthetics or functionality (think rentable square footage) to one that considered more carefully the relationship between the occupant and the space.

Shubbar, like many design professionals at the moment, was reconsidering what it means to create a good building—particularly as it relates to her practice area of Class A office space—and how it can be healthier and more engaging for end users.

“The idea of wellness, it’s been evolving and changing, and that’s what I wanted to convey—this conversation that we’re having as designers about what does that mean, and how can we manifest it in a workplace? So, that’s what I wanted to explore in the with the pod design.”

Shubbar worked directly with SnapCab’s engineers to bring her vision to life and preserve the integrity of the design intent as much as possible. “It was a really great experience,” she said.

Described as “an ethereal, biophilic design where serenity meets imagination,” Shubbar’s nature-infused design transforms a basic pod to one of a tranquil haven cultivating curiosity. Deploying a geometric dimensionality in a hex pattern, acoustic panels add visual interest and distinctive acoustic privacy. A refuge from the outer world where one can unwind, The Biophilic Portal features subdued neutral tones that blend together to create a neuro-sensitive environment without sacrificing the vividness of nature, as a moss green wall brings the space to life without the need for regular care.

Outfitted with a comfortable chair and footstool, the biophilic pod is designed to connect occupants with nature within an acoustically isolated pod to provide respite from the often noisy workplace environment.

Opportunity to Elevate the Design Conversation

Winning the “Space to Be You” design contest has afforded Shubbar the opportunity to step outside of her everyday responsibilities as someone who is looking for solutions for clients to be the person asking the questions around what she wants to focus on. The answer, it turns out, is about connecting with like-minded designers to raise the bar for the industry in terms of sustainability and health and wellness.

“It’s also given me the opportunity to challenge myself, because now I have this huge vision of how everything should work together and how can we as designers keep elevating and keep learning and evolving to make buildings basically serve the occupants in the best way we can and promote wellness,” she concluded.

Listen to the full conversation with Shubbar on her winning design on the I Hear Design podcast.

Read next: ‘Space to Be You’ Winner Demonstrates Flexibility of Privacy Pods

About the Author

Robert Nieminen | Chief Content Director

Robert Nieminen is the Chief Content Director of Architectural Products, BUILDINGS and i+s, sister publications of Smart Buildings Technology. He is an award-winning writer with more than 20 years of experience reporting on the architecture and design industry.

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