“EcoChi” blends science, ancient design wisdoms and evidence-based wellness studies into a unique nature-inspired design concept for events.
In this Shakedown, Debra Duneier of EcoChi discusses the concept of “ecochi” and why planners should be incorporating nature into their events. This is just a preview of what planners can expect from this week’s Meet Well Summit at MGM Grand Las Vegas, where Duneier is set to speak.
How do you define the concept of EcoChi, and why is it something that planners should care about?
When I created the name EcoChi, I had the following in mind: eco or “eco-friendly” and chi or “vital flow of energy.” EcoChi is a unique design approach that combines green and sustainable practices, wellness studies and spiritual design philosophies attained from various ancient cultures. The EcoChi interior design system has been globally recognized as a groundbreaking wellness design standard.
EcoChi focuses on the human experience of spaces. Planners already care about EcoChi (although they may not recognize it by name) because they are selling experience. The events and meeting industry now has a disrupter, a new generation of attendees that have a new set of core values. Among the things they care deeply about are sustainability, social responsibility, wellness and authentic experiences. They are willing to spend more money with companies that align with their values.
The concept of nature-inspired design or biomimicry has been around for centuries, and yet the idea seems so foreign to many planners and the meetings and events industry overall. Why do you think this is?
I believe it is due to the success of the industry. When you are successful, you utilize your formula—it works. You don’t need to change things or learn new philosophies or be inventive. Instead, we tend to flow, almost half asleep when we are accomplished. It takes a challenge to wake us up. The new generation of attendees is that wake-up call.
For those unfamiliar with the concept of environmental psychology and its role in facilitating harmony between man and nature, can you briefly describe what it is and how it connects to meetings and events?
Environmental psychology is an interdisciplinary science focused on the interplay between humans and their surrounding environments. The field defines the term broadly, including natural environments, built environments, learning, social and informational environments. It is believed that protecting, rebuilding and creating a preferred environment, increases the sense of well-being and behavioral effectiveness in humans.
Most of us spend 98 percent of our time indoors. When we are at work at our desks, watching sports on television, eating our meals at home or in restaurants, at conferences or events, it is easy to forget our connection to the outdoor world. Still, some of the happiest moments of our lives are spent outdoors. We all have recollections of these experiences—a blazing sunset, the scent of the ocean air, animal life encountered on a stroll through the woods, the view of a pastel sunrise from a mountaintop, a golden harvest moon or the fleeting glimpse of a mammoth butterfly. EcoChi brings nature indoors with patterns, textures, colors, furnishings, arrangements and art. The brain recognizes these elements and reacts in a positive way, almost as if you were outdoors experiencing it. The result is a feeling of happiness and well-being for your attendees. Isn’t that the ultimate goal?
Where does EcoChi fit into the greater discussion and need for sustainable meetings and events?
The meetings and event industry is still one of the most wasteful industries in the U.S. EcoChi Design is sustainable design. For those events that want to take sustainability to the next level, we also offer certification for events and meetings. EcoChi 180° Certification is the only experience-focused, sustainable interior design certification that is customized for your meeting, event or project. EcoChi 180° Certification helps your event, location or project make a 180° turn towards a model that respects people, the planet and profits. Eighteen guidelines are documented for a supportive, sustainable and effective environment. The property is then awarded the EcoChi 180° Seal: “Your commitment to people and the planet.”
What is the No. 1 thing that planners should consider when implementing purposeful interior design?
Life is lived—and conferences are experienced—the way they are designed. EcoChi purposeful design promotes wellness and positive feelings. Happy attendees will return to your events again and again.