Sense of Self
We are so excited for the new bathhouse and wellness concept, Sense of Self (SOS) set to open in Collingwood in Spring, 2019. The co-founders Mary Minas and Freya Berwick, aim to transform Australia’s spa and wellness offering by bringing a “no bullshit” approach to bathing and relaxation.
Repeated studies have shown that low social connection and stress is an epidemic: more damaging to our health than smoking, obesity or high blood pressure [source]. This is combined with recent reports [source] that the culture of self-improvement and performance driven by social media is further damaging our mental wellbeing and body image.
Minas and Berwick developed SOS as an antidote to these rising trends, and to create a space for a playful and healthy way to restore yourself. “We’re competing with ourselves, even in leisure” says Minas. “We wanted to challenge the existing wellness model with a new kind of experience, one that demonstrates wellbeing isn’t about performance or beauty.”
“SOS is a bathhouse for everyday people” Berwick says. “It’s a place where locals and tourists can come to enjoy solitary time-out or healthy time amongst others. Our vision is to strip the spa experience back to its roots, giving people a place to cultivate a better relationship with their bodies and themselves.”
Sense of Self (SOS) will offer choose-your-own-wellness experiences including bathing and steam, do-it-yourself clay and body scrubs, massage treatments, and mindfulness practices. The founders hope to create an inclusive and accessible space at a more affordable price point, encouraging a broader audience to make self-care a ritual. “As outsiders to the industry, we’ve been able to come at it from the perspective of the consumer and design a place that works harder to include more people and their unique needs” explains Berwick.
Both founders bring a distinct perspective to SOS; Minas, a filmmaker, took five months out of her career to experience the bathhouses of Europe, North Africa and Japan to help shape the SOS offering while Berwick, a botanist and hospitality expert, is developing an organic range of mud and body products for use in their steam experiences.
Designing the first SOS location will be an all-female collaborative design team from SetSquare Studio, Chamberlain Architects, and Hearth Studios. The existing Collingwood warehouse site will be transformed into a space inspired by what Berwick terms ‘Mediterranean Brutalism’, taking cues from the traditional bathhouses of the world with rich, tactile materials.