DENFAIR 2019 Speaker Series | HEALTH | Furniture, Fixtures and Fitness: Designing For Optimum Health
Warrior One. A transportive yoga studio found in bayside Melbourne | Photography: Sharyn Cairns
Warrior One. A transportive yoga studio found in bayside Melbourne | Photography: Sharyn Cairns
Technogym Headquarters | Photography: Technogym
Event photographed: Foolscap Studio and Relative at MPavilion for "Neo-nOMAdic: Experimenting with the future of work".

Shaping Healthy Spaces

Not so long ago, gyms were considered practically a no-man’s-land for design. But with the health and fitness industry taking on a new sheen in recent years, and wellness at the front of the collective consciousness, our expectations of the places where we prioritise our health have risen exponentially.

At DENFAIR 2019, the panel ‘Furniture, Fixtures and Fitness: Designing For Optimum Health’ addressed the maturation of the design offering in these spaces. Moderated by DENFAIR editor Sandra Tan, the discussion featured Alicia McKimm of GOLDEN, Sian Pascale, founder of The Light Collective, and Cristian Brugnoli of Technogym. Each brings a unique perspective on the question of how design can influence our physical and mental wellbeing. 

As designer and founding director at GOLDEN, Alicia McKimm has delivered contemporary yoga and pilates studios, and even, as you’ll hear in the full video of the talk – a dog wellness centre. In his work with Technogym, architect and interiors lead Christian Brugnoli has a wealth of experience in coordinating spaces to promote optimum health. And, given her background as a practicing architect and designer in both Australia and India, yoga instructor Sian Pascale shares her insights from both a design and end user perspective. 


Discover their thoughts below, and catch the full video of their talk here.

SIAN PASCALE – The Light Collective

“It’s interesting, in the five or six years since making the shift from design into being a full-time (yoga) teacher, how there are certain crossovers. And I didn’t realise there were so many crossovers until I was on a podcast about a year ago. They were talking to me about how the kind of spaces I was creating then were very much about people feeling at home.”

“When you’re a designer and you’re given a space, very often you’ll find dead space. And it’s your job to awaken, or activate and enliven that space, to make it somewhere that you want to be.”

“I’ve worked in a range of yoga studios, and in some of the most beautiful yoga studios in Melbourne, people are afraid of coming in – you know they are, a little. But once they’ve done the practice, it’s okay. It’s interesting that the over-design could be a barrier.


“One year ago, I decided to move to Technogym. And many of my colleagues said, ‘Why Technogym? They make fitness equipment!’ To be honest, I realised that we don’t only make fitness equipment, we give an experience. It’s about a lifestyle. We are really connected with architects.Every single product that we make is designed, taking care of every single detail. So I think that’s my place right now.”

“Everything must be as seamless as possible. We developed an app that recognises you wherever you are in the world. I travel a lot, I have a global role, so I jump from one continent to another. And every time I enter my hotel, my app tells me where is the closest Technogym equipped gym. I go down there, every single machine recognises me, has already recorded all my training, gives me advice about what is the best training for me today – and this is something fantastic, you know? A seamless experience. You have to give a good experience to the end user.”


“I think that if a space has been well designed, or really considered, it will just feel right from the moment you walk in. And that’s got to do with considering where the entry door location is, what the sightlines are, what are the forms that you’re greeted with, what’s the tactile, the sensory – so what are you hearing, smelling, seeing? And it’s all of those elements coming together that really do create that mood.”

“I think about what I would want in a wellness space, and as the end user, you want to be comfortable. And that’s about removing any sort of pretension. It can’t feel over-designed. Because then all of a sudden, it becomes polarising.”

Watch the full video of the ‘Furniture, Fixtures and Fitness: Designing For Optimum Health’ talk here. Some quotes have been edited for clarity.