How to incorporate Biophilic design in to your home
Why biophilic design deserves more attention and what we need to know about applying its principles in our homes. In our Biophilic Trend Edit, we rounded up the key messages of this trend and showcased some inspiring visuals of how we can achieve the look at home with a combination of colours, materials and furniture.
In this article, we’re going to look deeper into the principles of biophilic design and provide a step by step guide into how we can achieve it visually and enjoy the wonderful health benefits it can bring.
With our increasingly urban lifestyles, overexposure to technology, pollution and stressful environments, we face a challenge to maintain the much needed connection with the natural world. Strengthening this connection, however, can be a powerful tool to help us feel more grounded, calm and in harmony, especially while spending so much time at home during the recent months. A thoughtfully designed biophilic interior scheme works in favour of our inner world, but will positively affect our outer world too. It is not just visually appealing, but provides many health benefits. Reducing stress, increasing productivity, helping with focus and stimulating immunity are some of the positive effects we can enjoy if we decide to implement its principles in our homes. What’s good about it is that you don’t need a huge indoor garden or water feature or fish tank at home. Experimenting with this trend can be easy and fun!
Let’s start by thinking about different ways to please all of our senses through the connection with nature. Opt for a space that feels comfortable and familiar, using forms, shapes, materials, textures, colours and aromas that occur in the natural world. It’s also important that our contact with nature is a repeated experience. As Stephen R. Kellert explains in the book, Nature by Design: “People may possess an inherent inclination to affiliate with nature, but like much of what makes us human, this biological tendency needs to be nurtured and developed to become functional”.
What’s considered a healthy contact with nature? Think of natural light, shapes, forms, materials, views, ventilation and anything else that brings us closer to it mentally and physically. Surrounding ourselves with greens, water and fresh air can instantly improve our mood and lift our energy levels. To cover all elements, we’ve expanded on Kellert’s three categories of experiencing nature:
Direct experience - actual contact with nature such as natural light, air, plants, animals, water, landscapes;
Indirect experience - the image of nature, its transformation from its original condition or exposure to its characteristics. These can include artwork, wooden furniture and fabrics, natural shapes on decorative pieces etc.;
The experience of space and place - including spatial features such as organised complexity of the space, mobility, prospect and others
Getting enough natural light is essential. If your windows don’t let in enough daylight, you can bring natural light by using reflecting colours and materials, such as a glass top table, glass vases and mirrors. If you wish to achieve a motion effect, try playing around with the changing daylight during the day on a combination of contrasting coloured areas - a great way to express the passing of time and movement.
Fresh, moving water is pleasing to watch as it can be experienced through multiple senses. A fish tank is an easy option to consider, as it would fit almost any interior scheme... and is on a budget.
The more, the better! Houseplants are a great way to create a fresh, energising atmosphere and add character to the space. You can use plants to fill empty corners, place them on shelves or hang them up from ceilings. If you wish to complement your chosen interior style, why not invest in a stylish planter?
For a sense of comfort and warmth, especially during the winter days, try indulging in the comforting and cosy experience of fire. You can subtly integrate it by using candles, or if the space allows, incorporate a fireplace.
Images of nature
A simple way of introducing nature through imagery is to style a gallery wall with photographs of cherished memories from being around nature, images of the sunset or the blue sky, paintings or art posters. You can also add a natural shaped sculpture or even a video or computer simulation showing nature in motion.
Natural materials create a strong connection with the environment. Welcome materials like wood, stone, wool and cotton. They can be brought in through furnishings, fabrics and decorative pieces. Wood can be finished to look polished and elegant, or equally, it can be left raw to reveal its imperfections.
The biophilic interior schemes favour earthy tones with a reduced use of bright colours. This can be achieved through a palette of muted earthy tones of soil, rock and plants; a serene coastal scheme with hues of driftwood, pebbles and sand with hints of green and brown; or a warm neutral palette of tans and whites, mixing matte and semi-gloss finishes to create dynamics and vibrancy.
Shapes & Forms
Experiencing shapes and forms found in the natural world can transform a space from a static room into a dynamic and ambient living system. Choose furniture such as chairs and sofas with rounded corners and smooth forms. Add a feeling of flow and movement by styling a rug with an unusual, organic shape. Accessorise with items in natural shapes like shells, leaves or small animals.
A very powerful characteristic of nature is that it is always in flux and changing, making us feel aware of the cycles of life. The dynamic forces of growth and aging can be reflected in interiors through naturally aging materials, special aromas, weathered looking objects or repurposed furniture and accessories - anything that brings a comfortable, pleasant association of the passing of time.
Nature itself can give a relaxing and profound sense of protection. To achieve a similar feeling at home, try allocating a place for withdrawal from the main type of activity in the house, one where you feel protected from all sides. This can be a calming reading space or a small indoor garden with a cosy armchair or sofa.
Integrating parts to wholes
A space with a good connection with the natural systems can feel as if one is part of a big whole. In interior design this can be mimicked by sequentially linking spaces, as well as having clear boundaries. Contemporary open space kitchens and living rooms often allow for a similar atmosphere. Enhance the space by adding a central focal point such as a statement dining table made of natural materials.
Each culture creates a story that can be translated into a beautifully designed interior space. Bringing in cultured elements provokes a special connection to a place and the feeling of distinct identity. Infusing your space with such decorative items, statement furniture or accessories will celebrate originality in a subtle yet personal way.