Spa Optics: Designing a Space for Clients and Staff

Written by Josefin Roth, brand manager of LivNordic

There are certain things to consider when planning and designing any space, no less in a spa environment. Safety and security are highly important, due to the factor of clients getting undressed, as well as hygiene and cleanliness, which need to be considered in every aspect of the staff and guest’s journey. A great guest flow and proper space for back of house, as well as well-functioning placement of equipment and storage for products are vital. Design-wise, turning to mindfulness and calm, serene, and relaxing colors and tones to create that escape feeling is ideal. All are very important aspects, but there are so many ways to incorporate them – and the main thing is to create a holistic experience.


The brain reacts both emotionally and physically to new environments, which can affect everything from blood pressure and cortisol levels to sleep, making the emerging trend of wellness architecture and how the brain is affected by design an interesting one for anyone in the wellness and beauty industry.


Here are a few tips on how to create a great feeling and vibe for a spa space.



A space that feels personal and that stands out is more interesting and inviting. “Brand this, brand that” – everyone is talking about this, but it may not be necessary to create a special logo and branded color palette for everything. However, that is not the point. More so, you can create a strong identity in décor and atmosphere using all the senses. It is all about the vibe. How do you feel when entering the Mandarin Oriental Hotel? A Starbucks coffee shop? How do you want your clients to feel when they enter your spa? When designing our LivNordic spaces, we do it according to Scandinavian design principles, such as “lagom,” which is characterized by simplicity and minimalism, and “hygge,” which is the art of building an atmosphere and ambiance of cosiness, closeness, belonging, and warmth. Dare to stand out a bit from the competition and provide an individual space.



Being Swedish, this is a personal (and professional) obsession. Any space needs a coziness factor to feel inviting, warm, and friendly. This sounds easy but can be tricky. Many spas are so focused on providing a space so fresh and clean that it ends up reminding clients more of a clinic or hospital than a space where they actually want to spend time. The easiest way to avoid this is through lighting and fabrics; candles and fireplaces are great whenever possible; however, achieving the right light temperature by using many warm light spots instead of few major cold ones can make a tremendous difference. Benchmark cozy coffee shops and find inspiration.



As humans, we have a fundamental love for nature and numerous studies shows that nature makes people feel better. Everyone is talking about biophilic design nowadays, which does not mean that a skin care professional needs to install a plant wall or have a tree indoors or put up rainforest wall art on the walls, but instead use organic shapes, patterns, and elements from nature, such as water, fire, and wood in order to make the space come alive and feel natural, rather than stiff and cold. Use nature for inspiration for your color palette, and do not fear color, but make sure to get professional advice in how to use colors to avoid the unexciting “white walls plus accent color on pillows” look.



The feeling of touching a soft material is known to naturally release oxytocin, and a space with interesting items to discover releases dopamine. Clients want to learn, explore, and be engaged in beauty, wellness, and lifestyle. Therefore, it is important to make this a reality in any room, be it a shop, waiting area, or changing room. Technology has tremendous opportunities to support this, and a great tester station for touch and taste can be effective, as well. Tell a story and invite clients to try something new. Look at how the major beauty brands do this in airports and create your own experience.



A holistic design approach includes back of house. The atmosphere of the spaces for staff members is really important. Happy staff members create happy clients, and this can be supported in not just functional, but also beautiful and balanced back of house spaces, including offices, preparation rooms, and lockers – places they want to stay in. If possible, include somewhere to take a break during the day: a beautiful space for contemplation like a think relaxation chair, meditation pod, massage chair, yoga mat with a foam roller, or something that suits them and they will actually use. Also, make sure to schedule the use of spa facilities and exchange of treatments amongst team members.

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