If you haven’t heard of biophilic design, now’s the time to familiarise as it’s quickly becoming the next big design trend! As for what it means? Simply a connection to nature. This is achieved by the inclusion of certain materials, objects, and design methods into the interior space to allude to nature in your surroundings, with or without the physical elements of nature.
We spend a lot of our time indoors – 90% of our lives on average, in fact! This has increased even more in the last couple of years due to the pandemic and local restrictions that forced us inside for days, weeks, or months at a stretch. Biologically, we have an innate desire for connection to nature, and this lack of outdoor exposure has left a profound void in our lives, affecting our overall wellness. Biophilic design can help us fill that void within the interiors, thereby enhancing us both mentally and physically.
A biophilic-inspired interior is known to not only calm the mind, but also has many other coveted health benefits such as heightened cognitive ability, improved memory and concentration, and enhanced overall mood. It also has physical health benefits such as increased respiratory functions, lower pulse rates, a healthier gut, and fewer headaches. Who wouldn’t want all this just from making changes to one’s living space? And the good news is that it’s not as hard as it seems!
Inviting nature into an interior space can be done in many ways. Indoor plants, for example, are an obvious choice for use within a biophilic design. Not only are they aesthetically pleasing, but they also cleanse the air with their ability to remove harmful toxins and create more oxygen. Varieties such as rubber plants, peace lilies, and bamboo palms can give the best results. Creating a biophilic interior that will improve health and well-being involves the addition of certain essential components – even a few of these key elements will help improve the overall wellness of the occupant.
Visual Connection to Nature
Incorporate a visual connection to nature with a view of nature or plants, either external or internally. Try organising furniture (such as desks or beds) to face the window or add potted plants in carefully placed positions to bring nature into direct view. In the below image, the desk has been positioned with ample views of nature. This placement can enhance concentration and focus, along with reducing blood pressure.
The inclusion of the colours of nature – green, blue, and brown – is also an easy way to achieve a visual connection to nature. These hues can be added in various shades and tones to create a depth of colour to suggest the changing shades of seasons.
In the below image, the use of green in this setting is used in tonal form in reference to nature. This immediately calms nerves and sets a serene scene. Along with the addition of indoor plants, it creates a complete visual connection to nature.
Non-Visual Connection to Nature
A non-visual connection to nature involves allowing for the sounds of nature to be heard (such as chirping birds, wind rustling leaves on trees, or running water), along with the scent of nature. These can be either authentic or artificial – as long as the subsequent result still refers to nature.
Simply leaving a window open invites sounds and smells (think: freshly cut grass), whilst fresh flowers and strong-smelling citrus fruits or a diffuser with essential oils (with strong floral scents such as lavender or geranium) will spread the scent continuously when placed in common areas.
Ensure fresh air wherever possible, either through the opening of windows or doors, or the installation of a mechanical ventilation system to move the air at a steady pace. This is a simple and effective way to encourage cleaner interior air for a healthier mind.
Natural and Diffused Light
The management of light can be used to mimic nature’s rhythms and create the right mood or ambience. Allow for ample natural light in the interior space during daylight hours and use diffused light in the afternoon or evenings when you want to simply relax.
Try leaving the curtains slightly open when going to bed as this allows natural light to enter the bedroom at the natural wake time, which helps regulate the circadian rhythm, resulting in an enhanced and energised mood throughout the day. Diffused light can be achieved through a sheer curtain or a soft-white light bulb diffused through a fabric or frosted lampshade and strategically positioned in the space to bring in the right ambience.
Presence of Water
The sound or view of water is extremely beneficial in reducing blood pressure and pulse rate. The addition of water features directly outside an interior space can help achieve this.
Plant and Animal Motifs
Nature can easily be added to a space with finishes and objects. Try adding plants and animals in the form of artwork – either as photorealist or abstract pictures, or as plant or flower motif tiles in wet rooms. Wallpapers can be used with impressive effects, bringing the wall to life. The addition of figurines and sculptures is also another great way to add an injection of nature into the interior.
Material Connection to Nature
Add wood or natural stone flooring, along with untreated wood or natural marble, wherever possible. To bring in a softer texture, include furnishings made from wool, cotton, or cashmere. The nature of the material and the contrast of hard materials against soft fibres work together to bring feelings of comfort and ease. In the below image, the use of hardwood flooring finishes off and brings together all the biophilic elements of the space.
Other Elements to Consider
There are other factors that can be included, although these can be slightly more difficult to achieve. It includes the creation of refuge spaces by creating nooks and quiet areas for individuals to unwind in. The ‘allure of mystery’ is another element that can be considered. This effect can be achieved through the inclusion of partitions and semi-transparent window fittings.