Joanna contacted us shortly before publishing our last trend report The New Care Economy to present her book The New Mindful Home. She felt her work resonated strongly with our wellbeing research and so did we when diving into her manuscript. The New Mindful Home is now included as a book tip in our report, and considering that we are about to start the season of joy, we thought offering a thoughtful giveaway could make a lovely change here on the Eclectic Trends blog.
“The Academy of Neuroscience for Architecture has dedicated whole studies to ‘neuroaesthetics’ (how mood and emotion can alter when we are presented with an artistic stimulus we are attracted to, be it a piece of music or an object of home decor). These have shown that our conscious thoughts aren’t always attuned to our environment in the same way as our body is engaging with it, flagging the importance of listening to our design intuition to enable us to create a space where our physiology feels most peaceful – a place where you can come and just be. If you can create that feeling of escape at home, you might find it positively alters how you feel about the outside world, too.” – Joanna Thornhill
Creating a Sanctuary, Considered Living, Mindful Objects, Clean Living, Becoming Biophilic are just some of the chapters you can enjoy when browsing through her work. There are 135 pages that cover among other themes:
- Creating a friendlier home environment by bringing in softer shapes and silhouettes
- How to spot harmful toxins we might inadvertently bring into our homes
- Creating a dedicated area to practise mindfulness activities, portable or otherwise, regardless of our home’s set-up
- How to conduct a mindful audit of your interior
- Ideas for introducing crafting, doodling, or making into your day, regardless of whether you identify as ‘creative’ or not
- How to fill your home mindfully with objects that resonate with you and hold (or will allow you to form) happy memories
We asked Joanna a few questions to learn about her motives when writing The New Mindful Home. She took time to answer; before entering in the giveaway of two books, enjoy her insights:
Would you please introduce yourself?
I’m Joanna Thornhill, a London-based interiors stylist, writer, author, and creative consultant. I’ve worked in this field for over fifteen years, initially as a freelance assistant (in-house on interiors magazines and helping other freelance stylists on shoots). Now, my work is broadly mixed across styling for commercial and editorial clients and writing (creative content for brands, editorial for magazines, and monthly emerging trends reports for forecasting agency WGSN). I’ve also authored several books: Home for Now (CICO Books), My Bedroom is an Office (Laurence King Publishing) and my latest book, The New Mindful Home, also published under Laurence King. During the pandemic, my work has broadened somewhat, and I’m now also moving more into the teaching and consultancy space, mainly via courses and workshops.
What made you write this book, and why is it called The NEW Mindful Home? Why NEW?
Having worked in the industry for so long over the past five years, I found myself craving something a little deeper.
I was starting to feel jaded with the endless cycles of trends and of pushing clients’ customers or readers to buy new things for the sake of newness, with little consideration to the social or environmental impact these pieces might have. I also felt like social media had simultaneously democratised design – making it accessible for everyone, which is excellent of course – yet it also homogenised it, with many interiors seemingly created purely for aesthetics and with little consideration into how they might make you feel or whether they even suit your style and vibe.
At the same time, I was becoming more interested in behavioural psychology and neuroscience. I started to spot ways that the theories and science I was reading tied into home design, too (especially in the area of neuroaesthetics). I couldn’t find much to read out there that covered this topic with the interior design aspect front and centre, and I thought this could be a fascinating area to explore further. Luckily my publishers agreed, and eventually, The New Mindful Home was commissioned in the Autumn of 2019.
The choice of using the word ’new’ in the title was essentially to signify this approach to the topic, which at the time genuinely felt like a very new way of thinking about interiors. I wanted to explore how we can tread the lines between both spirituality and neuroscience and take into account many different factors in order to create a living space that not only supports our own emotional needs but the broader needs of society, community, and the planet, too – yet in a way that was wholly practical and not just full of lofty theories, but tips and the idea that anyone, on any budget, could put into practice in their own home.
What were your criteria when you started with the research of what ‘mindful’ means?
To me, thinking holistically and authentically was the key to it all: to my mind, to be truly mindful, we need to look beyond ourselves, and to the impact, our shopping or decorating has on the wider community, both good and bad. And also, I really wanted to help people figure out what living and decorating mindfully look like for them personally: for me, it was never about a particular aesthetic, trend, or colour palette – it’s deeply personal to everyone. A space which to me might feel wholly nourishing and supportive, could for someone else be a stressful nightmare. So it was important for me that the first chapter, in particular, examined this, with examples of how you might decorate to suit different personality types and traits (as well as how to identify your own personal traits and emotional needs).
My belief is that if you do this initial work in getting to know yourself, you’ve then got a really strong foundation to create a home that will genuinely support you as part of a broader picture of living more mindfully.
How do you integrate that idea of mindfulness in your home, and what effects can you feel?
Personally, it’s been a fascinating journey – I’ve come to realise that certain earlier design choices I’ve made in my own home, based purely on intuition, actually tie right in with some of my research, and the reason they work has foundations in our psychology itself. For example, my favourite cosy corner in the house is actually in the perfect spot psychologically for feeling safe, or what in Feng Shui would be known as the ‘commanding position’: it’s in the centre of the house, but with a wall behind me, so my brain isn’t subconsciously scanning for background dangers, and its placement means I can indirectly see both the front and back door to the house – so again, subconsciously this satiates my brain as it knows I’m not in direct ‘line of danger’ from outside threats, yet I’m in a position where I could escape if needed. These subconscious thoughts are hardwired into us and going back to our caveman roots, so designing our spaces to help lessen or eliminate these potential triggers can make for a much more relaxing space.
And on the flip side of that, it also helped me to become aware of why certain design ideas, furniture placements or colour choices I’d made at home had never quite felt ‘right,’ even though on paper they should have worked and, with this new understanding, what I could do to change them. So during the lockdown, for example, I ended up redecorating over half the house as I realised that my needs had changed: as we’d lost so much stimulus from the outside world, I was craving more colour and interest in my home, so out went the greys and in their place a much more warm, soothing, nature-influenced palette and even more artwork and accessories. For me personally, I have a very busy mind and am prone to over-thinking and anxiety, so conversely, if I have a ‘busy’ space full of things I love, this actually comforts and inspires me, whereas more minimal schemes don’t give me enough distraction and can lead me to ruminate – so for my brain, stimulating external space = calm inner headspace!
Finally, I now have a far better understanding of what colours and tones do and don’t work for me: as a stylist I’ve always been able to pull together colour palettes, but I now instinctively understand what colours and styles just won’t work for me, even if I objectively like them, which makes it far easier to make confident design choices. And that’s where my styling work becomes a real benefit, as I get to play with creating all sorts of schemes that wouldn’t work in my home, but would be amazing for someone else!
Mindfulness has become a widespread term in the past 24 months. Do you agree, and do you think there is an evolution of the idea of ‘mindful’? If so, what would it be?
I literally handed in the final draft for my book just days before the first UK lockdown, so I definitely noticed the term mindfulness suddenly becoming extremely mainstream within a very short space of time – previously we had been worried that the title would be too niche, yet those concerns quickly dissipated and went the other way, as I started to worry that the book might come across like we were jumping on a bandwagon or ‘riding a trend’. And of course, the term mindfulness has been greatly capitalised since the start of the pandemic, with many brands selling anything and everything with claims of boosting mindfulness and wellbeing (often with little to back it up). I see it as a similar trajectory to greenwashing – you have to dig beyond any appealing sales pitches and figure out if what you’re buying really is as wellness-boosting or planet-positive as it claims.
“In terms of an evolution of the term, I think we have moved away from – and need to remember – that ultimately, taking a mindful approach comes from within and can’t be outsourced to a cushion or a candle. Yes, there are many items we can use as tools or visual prompts to aid mindfulness, but it requires us to do the work, too, and as I say, when it comes to mindful design, you have to do that initial research into your own traits and needs in order to gain the most benefit. “- Joanna Thornhill
I also think there’s a danger of the idea of mindfulness becoming conflated with self-centredness, in part due to the over-use of the term self-care. As I say, I believe that truly taking a mindful approach needs to be holistic: if you are purchasing pieces for your home, it’s really important to take that mindful moment before impulse purchasing to think about whether this something you truly want or need but also, what’s the impact of this purchase? Who made it, were they treated fairly, and is it sustainable (or used from recycled materials)? It’s not about being perfect but taking a moment to think, is this the best I can do right now. I think this is the aspect of mindful design I’d like to see included more in the conversation.
To enter in the giveaway of The New Mindful Home book, please read the conditions:
- Leave a comment below, and let us know what is it that resonates with you and the book.
- The draw closes on Sunday 05 (8 pm CET).
- We will announce the two lucky (random) winners on Monday 06.
- The publishing house sends your copy to the postal address. We will contact you for further details, please check your email (and spam) on Monday 06.
- This promotion is in no way sponsored.
THANK YOU FOR JOINING IN!
UPDATE: Mil gracias for taking part everyone! We have contacted the two random winners on Monday 06, December 2021.
THE NEW CARE ECONOMY
Consumers have become hyper-focused on wellness and self-care in the past 15 months. As a result, they are more interested in less transaction-based communication and more in what a brand can do for them. How does this spirit look translated into design?
I resonate with the fact that the approach to acquisition needs to be holidtic -multilateral: do I need it, how and where was it made, what is it made of,etc.
We start talking more about a 360º approach when we talk what ‘home’ is to us, and that’s one of the most meaningful consequences of the past months.
This book immediately caught my attention. We spend so much time in our homes and even more now with many people working from home. I think that there is a huge potential to increase people’s physical and spiritual well being by looking at the interiors that they spend their time in. I would love to read this book.
…and learn from science, too because wellbeing is such a mood, personal and has much to do with neuroaesthetics.Who knew?
I love my home but there appeared the slight feeling of “not being totally me” anymore some time ago. So I started to let things go. I’d love to read Joanna’s thoughts about mindfulness at home.
Sie hat wirklich interessante Artikel, es ist nicht das typische Buch, in dem du dir Fotos anschaust und dann nimmst du es nicht wieder in die Hand. Viele Texte laden ein zum Nachdenken.G,x
Yes, it’s baffling sometimes when we have designed a space which on paper should work, but it just doesn’t feel right, somehow. And of course, our tastes also change over time, too. I think I’ll be forever tinkering with my own home! Hopefully this book helps work out what some of these elements which aren’t working might be
Me entusiasma la idea de que la combinación de elementos que configuran el espacio en el que quiero habitar va más allá de la adaptación a una estética concreta o a una tendencia, de que es personal e intransferible, que pertenece a uno mismo y difiere de unos a otros. Es un nuevo enfoque para plantear soluciones en la creación de nuevas superficies y productos para el diseño de interiores, mucho más profundo y holístico, y que influye de manera mucho más beneficiosa en el resultado final, mucho más centrado en el bienestar personal.
Si, es un libro para leer, entender y no solo pasar las páginas una vez para no volver a cogerlo más en tus manos.G,x
It is almost as if Joanna Thornhill dug into my brain, pulled out all my random musings then disseminated them into a cohesive thought process and put it into a book for me to appreciate and continue to learn from. I am thrilled at the opportunity to receive this book!
Haha, we’ll let her know!
Haha brilliant! That was basically how I created the book, by pulling together all the random musings in my brain then researching them, to create something that actually made sense ;-)
I’d love to rethink my home in terms of mindfulness and be surrounded by meaningful memories and happy things. This book sounds wonderful and which such innovative approach!
She started writing it before the pandemic hit and it turns out, it’s spot on.
El propio nombre del libro: el nuevo hogar consciente conectado con la creatividad :)
Pues, si, vas a disfrutar los textos, están muy bien investigados:) Un abrazo, Carla.
The photos from the book are just inspiring! I really love the color combinations and the calmness. The book could help me in my work as interior stylist.
Greetings from Berlin!
Thank you – as well as styling I’m quite involved in picture research for my writing projects – I spent a long time (alongside my wonderful picture researcher) trying to find images for this book (they were all sourced, rather than created specifically for the book) that really conveyed the points I wanted to make, without being too wedded to one particular aesthetic. The nice thing about working this way is we could include homes from all over the world, which would have been prohibitively expensive to do if we were shooting everything from scratch!
Oh, das klingt super spannend! Das Thema der Aneignung der Wohnung (gerade, wenn man zur Miete wohnt) beschäftigt mich schon länger.
Liebste Grüße zu dir :*
Ja, sie schreibt wirklich gut, da kann man einiges lernen. Ich drück dich zurück.PS: Toller aufgehängter Stern;)
The photograph of the loft room under the eaves jumped out at me and pulled at my heart. I know that I need to become more mindful, it’s happening slowly but surely and because of that picture I believe that I can accomplish it with a little help from that beautiful book.
Slowly but surely sounds like a great start!
La idea de un hogar consciente, conectado y holístico, a través de una aproximación 360, ahora más que nunca parece imposible no conectar con ello, también llama mi atención la idea de indagar y aprender a detectar sustancias dañinas inadvertidas: Y por supuesto la idea de un libro que disfrutar también con varios de mis sentidos me entusiasma. Ojalá haya suerte :))
Ojalá, mucha suerte! Que lo disfrutes si te toca.
I love that it is based on sciences AND the senses!
I connected with the idea of the home as an authentic place to go back, reconnect with your own values, recharge and return in a more better frame of mind to the outside.
I will move to a new home soon. For my first own home. This book would be perfect help to dream and make MY HOME from the flat.
As I’m moving from my country, I’m attempting to create new spaces that make me feel at home. The fact that it’s centered in finding objects that suit yourself is what resonates with me the most, now that I want to rediscover who I am and what I want for myself.
I love each information shared in this post about the book, starting from the title to the choice of the images and how soothing the color palettes are. What resonated with me the most as an interior designer is the fact that throughout my practice i have done a lot of different schemes for many many clients that i knew would work for them but never for me in my own home and now i understand why: I needed a place to connect to my creativity. I hope ill be one of the lucky winners.🙏🏻💞
Exactly – it’s so fun to design/style with looks that we love, but wouldn’t necessarily work within our own home. A bit like window shopping, or having a good rummage round a flea market! It sort of lets you ‘try before you buy’ as to whether certain aspects might suit you personally too (or not!)
This book resonates with my interests in architecture and my studies in contemplation. I feel a deep interest in the function of the house as a tool for increasing well-being and generating conditions for happiness.
First of all – thank you for organising a giveaway! Whoever gets the book is a one lucky bastard ;) I’ve just scrolled through Joanna’s blog and am completely fascinated by her work – not only privately (moved to a new home a few months ago – from London to York – and been following similar principals of emotional nourishment, avoiding toxicity etc) but also professionally – as a wellbeing coach + FUNctional movement & yoga teacher. If it lands with me I promise it an elevated spot on our gorgeous coffee table! Thanks ;)
Oh good luck on your new adventures up north! I think there’s a lovely crossover between all these holistic elements – yoga, wellbeing and mindful design. The research into toxicity was eye-opening for me and it’s definitely made me more aware of what materials I do and don’t want to bring into my home! Emotional nourishment is a perfect term for it :-)
Thank you Joanna! If you’re ever up in York, feel free to poke me for tea or coffee :)
I am very impressed with JoAnna’s feelings about buying objects just for buyings sake. She feels the way that I do and that really resonates with me . Being “mindful” of our empact on the enviornment and to be truly mindful, we need to look beyond ourselves.
The word “authentic” is tossed around a lot nowadays but I feel that JoAnna embodies the word and has written about it in a very authentic way.
Thank you JoAnna for this beautiful book.
As a freelance designer who works mostly from my apartment studio, I find this book extremely interesting. One of the most common problem I’ve got while working at home is the balance between work and life. To be more mindful with that and with the space I’m living in is definitely goal. Can’t wait for the book to release, it would make a great coffee table book too!
It can be extra challenging to strike this balance if living and working in the same small space – I’ve been under the weather with a cold this past week so I’ve abandoned my garden office to mainly work in bed or on the sofa, and already I’m finding it’s negatively affecting my sleep. Going to put more boundaries back in place now I’m feeling a little better! PS the book is actually already out and available from Amazon/all good bookshops, in most countries :-)
I’m fascinated by the idea of our home being our safe haven and the fact that people make such efforts (me included) in making their homes beautiful, cosy and special. I’d like to move my blog in a direction of it looking for the reasons behind this need. Not so much only by listening to experts but more hearing it from people themselves.
This book however seems to expose the psychological and anthropological reasons too. It should be fascinating.
I’ll be crossing my fingers 🤞🤞
As we are going to refurbish our home, I think this book would be very helpful. It would teach us to take a new approach to design the spaces according to us and not to a trend and get, as a result, a real home for all the family.
Our home should be our sanctuary and a safe place of balance with our daily life but also a creative reflection of our personality, needs and ambitions.
I’m eager to learn how a more meaningful and authentic home could be achieved in the modern world where consuming and buying play such a big role in our daily life.
Resonating most with me are “spot harmful toxins” and “a mindful audit” , which will teach me to best navigate & heal a space to benefit my client´s wellbeing. As an interior designer I am keen to sharpen my skills, adding this quantitive research linking the interior´s psychological and anthropological origins.
Congratulations Joanna & thank you for all of your research, you are an early adopter! The topic is uber relevant & your public is ready! Thanks Eclectic trends for giving us this “morsel of genius”… Good luck to all entering, should I win, I will do Johanna great justice, translating it into my service & purpose.
Thank you so much!
I think this amazing book couldn’t have come at a better time . As a designer I have been advising clients for years now in this vein and its finally starting to resonate with them. Individual, unique and sustainable homes will benefit families and individuals hugely in these uncertain times.
Sounds like we’ve been thinking alike! I think the pandemic and lockdown/s are, as a silver lining, making people think in this way a little more as we realise the impact our homes have now we spend so much more time in them. Ditto, I hope, a growing appreciation of shopping ‘better’ from designer/makers and sustainable brands
I am particularly interested in mindfulness as it relates to homes and interiors. The addition of behavioural psychology and neuroscience is relevant and I would like to learn more.
Thanks so much everyone for the lovely comments on here – it’s definitely lifted my spirits hugely :-) Best of luck to those entering the competition!
UPDATE: Mil gracias for taking part everyone! We have contacted the two random winners on Monday 06, December 2021.