In the first interview we had an opportunity to sit down with a world-renowned Wellness Architect — Veronica Schreibeis Smith (CEO & Founding Principal, AIA, NCARB Certified, LEED AP).
What is your background?
Veronica: I am a licensed architect and design the entirety of the building, from the core & shell all the way through to the most refined details of the interior spaces.
I’m incredibly sensitive to my surroundings which not only lead me to architecture, but to our specialty in Wellness Architecture which is the art and science of how the built environment impacts human and planetary wellbeing. Through this lens it becomes vital that the exterior and interior architecture are wholly united as a single, regenerative experience.
What have been some of your most exciting projects?
Veronica: Our most exciting projects are those where the client comes to us with a strong vision, and entrusts us to co-create authentic, moving experiences. Although the project type changes — from regenerative Wellness Architecture prototypes, to historically accurate revitalization projects, to timeless new construction that blends contemporary aesthetics with age-old construction and craftsmanship techniques — the focus on enhancing human and planetary wellbeing in thoughtful and elegant ways is always consistent.
What are the latest trends and innovations in kitchen design?
Veronica: The future is leading us towards the IOT of appliances, where integrated smart apps will automate your grocery lists and food delivery, and assist you in optimizing weekly meal plans to keep your family in prime health, while at the same time customizing the recipes for the season, ingredients you have in your home, and special needs of individual family members. These trends are all about saving time and brining convenience into the kitchen in big ways.
How do you see the movement of wellbeing being integrated into modern kitchens?
Veronica: The Vera Iconica Wellness Kitchen™ is bringing wellbeing into the modern kitchen by re-imagining the layout, organization, and functionality of the kitchen around a plant-based diet. Additionally, through nudge architecture and environmental psychology, the design and material selections have the power to influence behavior and make it easier to establish rituals that bring mindfulness and ease into daily life. We really look at how each of our designs are impacting wellbeing from multiple dimensions: physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, social, and financial, for example.
What have been some of the challenges in your projects?
Veronica: Today’s kitchen have not kept up with the transformation the Food Industry is seeing towards plant-based, whole foods diets that are locally sourced. Rather they are stuck in a 1950’s paradigm with designs centered around high caloric preservative laden, highly processed foods, and even non-foods. These poor diet habits are a number one contributor to 70% of deaths each year. The biggest challenge is at an individual level in re-training our culture to eat healthier foods, while the constraints of the kitchen are encouraging the exact behavior that we are trying to break free from.
How do you see Natufia fitting into the modern kitchen?
Veronica: Natufia does more than delivering living vegetables right to your kitchen. It promotes connection to your food as you see it grow, and with its glass doors and beautiful design, nudges one to eat the veggies instead of the junk food hiding in the pantry. Moreover, it reduces waste in the food supply chain, and gives the owner control over what they want to grow any climate, any time of year.
What are you working on at the moment?
Veronica: The architecture firm has many beautiful projects, each customizing how the experience of the end product will enhance the lives of the people that use them, as well as how they can regenerate the local ecology. On the other hand, Vera Iconica Wellness Kitchen™ is working on developing kitchen lines that are appropriate for remodels and new construction alike, and are accessible for those inspired to eat healthy, and just need that extra support and empowerment good design can deliver.
What are your recommendations for people planning to upgrade their kitchen?
Veronica: Before doing an upgrade, take note on your daily habits, rituals, shopping lists, and so on. Reflect on key questions, such as: Are you eating the way you want to eat? What are your struggles? What do you need to help you eat and feed your family healthier? Once you understand what is working for you, what is not, and where you want to go, then you can start to design — and hopefully re-imagine — a kitchen that will nourish you and empower your aspirations towards a life full of longevity and vitality.