‘Biophilia’ isn’t the sexiest sounding word in design but it is pretty hot right now!
The term translates to ‘the love of living things’ in ancient Greek and its core principle is to connect humans with nature, and as a result, improve well-being.
Have you ever felt happier, refreshed and more productive after a walk? Or feel your spirits lifted simply from sitting in your garden or park? These feelings are what form the foundations of ‘Biophilia’.
Interior Design that connects us to nature is proven to make us happier, reduce stress, enhance creativity and clarity of thought, boost our productivity and even contribute to a stronger sense of wellbeing.
We spend approximately 90% of our time indoors so now, more than ever, it’s necessary to bring the outdoors in and create indoor environments – biophilic interiors, that reference nature in both obvious and subtle ways.
It’s not just about the visual connection to nature but to engage your other senses too – through touch, sound and smell. Together it provides a multi-sensory experience that can form a connection between yourself and nature and improve your overall wellbeing.
Not every space can be designed to incorporate all the principles of biophilic design, but there are elements that can be used in any style of home to collectively enhance your interior and connection with nature.
Here’s how you can look to nature for your inspiration:
We all need a dose of natural sunlight with added Vitamin D to thrive and feel good! One of the worst culprits is offices or home offices, where we cover windows to stop the sun glaring off computer screens, depriving us of natural light.
Natural light helps guide our circadian rhythm – the natural 24 hour cycle that helps us feel energised in the morning and ready for bed in the evenings. Bright, airy spaces flooded with natural light can lift our mood; as opposed to dark, dingy rooms that can make us feel sleepy and lethargic.
Think about your window treatments so they don’t block out the light, remove any obstructions in front of a window and use mirrors to bounce light around. Consider the brightest spots when arranging your furniture. If you work from home position your desk next to a window – the natural light will help you stay alert and focused.
Not only is it about “looking” at a wooden table but it is also about our response to how it physically feels to touch it.
Materials such as wood, bamboo, rattan and stone appeal because they have a natural tactility to them – you can’t help but run your hands over their surface. They bring a sense of warmth that you don’t always get from synthetic man-made materials. They have variation and nuance in their texture; the grains, knots and organic lines are all part of their allure.
Certain textures can be used to mimic those you might see in the natural world; it could be honeycomb-shaped drinks coasters, the lined marks on a vase or something as abstract as the shape of a set of curves on a rug. These patterns help to bring life to a space and create pockets of interest for the eye to focus on.
You can use soft furnishings and accessories in linen, organic cotton and wool to bring a feeling of cosiness to a space. Natural weave cushions or a soft, textured throw adds a lightweight and tactile layer.
We have spoken lots about the benefits of indoor plants in previous blogs but they really are a home essential. Not only do they make us feel calmer and more relaxed, but studies have shown that placed in areas of work they will help raise creativity and reduce stress. All that as well as working hard to purify our air, making our homes better for our health.
Some of the best varieties for air purifying include ferns, the Peace lily, Yukka plant, Areca or bamboo palm. If you’re stuck for space, try a few herbs on a windowsill, small succulents on a coffee table or a hanging planter from a shelf or bookcase.
The benefits are most noticeable in window-less rooms or a space that lacks a view of nature, but even a few plants in any type of space can boost wellbeing.
Displaying them in concrete, bamboo or wicker pots or baskets will add another natural and tactile element to your biophilic design. If your home is is predominantly neutral, plants will add a pop of colour and sense of life.
Create Your Own Scenery
We can’t always have views of the sea but we can have a painting of the sea. Representations of nature in our art, wallpapers or fabrics can give us a certain amount of the relaxing benefits of the real deal. So there might be more reason to go for that bold jungle wallpaper or print – not only will you be making the design statement you wanted but it might also meet the emotional benefits your human instinct needs from looking at lots of leafy foliage.
If we are looking to echo what is outside our home with a colour palette that creates happy, productive and creative environments. Unsurprisingly the main colours that pop up in biophilic design are darker greens, blues, browns, tans and tawny golds. But don’t panic if you yearn for brighter colours. According to a Human Spaces report; “Humans are attuned to seeking out colours indicative of flowers and fruit.”
In other words, bright colours aren’t off limits, but use these as the “Accent” colours in a design scheme.
If you prefer a more neutral scheme, introduce the colours of nature in to your décor such as blue, green or tawny gold scatter cushions, throws, rugs and decorative items.
Think About All The Senses
As well as sight and touch, you can also consider sound and smell in the home. That could be as simple as opening the window every morning to let in some fresh air or blocking out traffic noise with soothing music.
Candles with essential oils will help you to relax, whether it’s while you’re working or lying on your sofa in the evening. Choose fresh scents such as eucalyptus, rosemary and bergamot to evoke the natural world.
Biophilic design is looking to be a trend that will be around for some time as we seek to create healthier and more sustainable homes. Do you think you’ll be adding Biophilic design elements to your home?
Love from Emma & Emily