Biophilic interiors are the undisputed design trend of 2020, and whilst you may not have heard of the term, the basic principle is to bring nature into your home. ‘Biophilia’ meaning ‘love of nature’ suggests that humans have a genetic connection to natural settings, and seeing as our access to the outside world has been somewhat limited this year, it’s no surprise people have jumped so heavily towards this design philosophy.
Biophilia’s core principle is to connect humans with nature, and as a result have a significant positive impact on people’s health and well-being. The advancement of technological developments has fundamentally changed how people interact with nature, with the majority of people spending 80-90% of their time indoors, whether it be in their home or workplace. Introducing the key natural elements of biophilic design into our interiors can provide us with this connection to nature that is so imperative to help us reduce stress, and improve cognitive function, creativity, and productivity. We have broken down the fundamental elements of biophilic design into 6 categories, so you can ‘biophile’ up your house in no time!
Embrace the Light
We all need a good dose of vitamin D to thrive, and unless you’re drinking masses amounts of Sunny D, the easiest way to get this is through sunlight. Natural light is probably more important to our well-being than most people give it credit for, it affects both our eye functions and inherent circadian rhythms. Naturally, light changes throughout the day, starting with a yellow hue in the morning, becoming bluer by mid-day and shifting to redder tones in the late afternoon. A design aesthetic that echo’s this daily sequence, essentially keeps us in sync with the natural 24-hour cycle, maintaining the balance of our hormone levels, which in turn aligns our sleep-pattern. This maximisation of natural light, aside from saving us heaps on energy bills, also enhances visual comfort, reducing stress-levels.
Plants, Plants, and more Plants
You may have noticed the recent craze for indoor plants that scale from the old flower-in-a-vase table centrepiece thing, to literal living walls. Whilst some of us don’t want to go quite that far, incorporating plants into your home has shown to have many health benefits. They help reduce stress and anxiety, naturally filter toxins out of the air providing us with a better quality of air, they can help lower blood pressure leading us to feel calmer and less stressed, and they also give off oxygen, allowing us to get a better nights sleep.
Aside from making our homes better for our health, plants can make spaces feel more appealing and alive, by bringing the freshness of the outdoors in. They can both enhance and encompass our interior design, being used as accent pieces, or utilized to create a design centrepiece. It is easy to include a plant in almost any room, whether it be a large Ficus next to the sofa, grouped aloe vera plants in quirky pots on the kitchen window sill, or a fern in a macrame holder, hanging from the bathroom ceiling. No matter how you decide to integrate plants into your design just remember they need to be cared for, so don’t take on more than you can chew.
(You Make me Feel Like) A Natural Material
As more technology enters our home, it’s nice to balance this out with natural materials, and benefit from the warm and cosy feeling they provide. The choice of materials we use should not only be aesthetically pleasing, but should also provoke a response from us, prompting a sense of clean, organic and pure materials in our living space – which makes us feel good. If we can take it from the earth and make it with our hands, then we want a connection to it. In general, natural materials are highly versatile, long-lasting and sustainable. As sustainability becomes increasingly important to all aspects of our life, using renewable, eco-friendly materials for our home furnishings such as cork, wood, stone, bamboo and natural fibres, achieves a pleasing, cohesive and an environmentally conscious design.
Colour me Curious
Echoing the natural colours found outside of our home, inside our home, can create a colour palette that creates happy, productive and creative environments. The use of dusky greens, moody blues, and earthy oranges can accomplish this. In history colours were used by our ancestors to identify danger, locate food, water and other useful resources, so using a colour scheme that represents nature creates a sense of belonging to that environment.
If this all sounds a bit dreary to you, research has shown that humans also associate bright colours, indicative of flowers and fruit, as organic and therefore the use of a bright accent colour can enhance your space. This, along with representations of nature in our art, wallpapers, fabrics, and accessories can give us the same instinct and relaxing benefits of the real deal. So, if you’ve had your eye on that jungle print wallpaper then plaster that leafy foliage all over your walls!
Earth, Wind & Fire (and Water)
In order to most effectively integrate biophilic design into your home, adding all the elements we associate with nature, in a multi-sensory way will make the connection to nature that much greater and therefore enhance all the positive aspects of the design philosophy. Feeling the heat of a fire, the smell of a plant and the soothing sounds of water can heighten the feeling of experiencing nature, rather than just seeing it.
The sounds of water are classically tranquil, reminiscent of a calm babbling brook. Evidence suggests these sounds can lower blood pressure and heart rate, along with being a useful tool of drowning out the not-so-pleasant sounds of the general hustle and bustle of daily life. Whilst most of the time in closed spaces, the advice is to keep the temperature of a room constant. However, constant temperatures eventually lead to sleepiness, which can be counteracted with an organic air flow. A stimulating natural ventilation can improve focus and productivity. Finally, the incorporation of fire in interiors, whether it be from a fireplace or a candle, has long been associated as a sign of comfort, providing pleasing qualities of warmth, movement, and colour.
Fake it until you make it
The challenge biophilic design often encounters is the common limitability of space and resources. So, if you are not in the position to completely re-model your house, but still want to incorporate the design philosophy there are some ways you can cheat! Whilst the presence of genuine nature will provide a higher level of physiological and psychological benefits of biophilic design, elements that mimic nature such as adding a fake plant, a painting of a nice view, or imitating biomorphic patterns, are not without their benefit.