How To Incorporate Biophilic Design Into Your Home
How do you feel when you find yourself in nature?
Apart from perhaps the odd bit of hay fever, most of us feel pretty good. From walks in the park or tending to a garden, to weekends away to the seaside or country. Nature provides the space for time out, for mental restoration and a moment of calm.
As humans we have an innate response to the natural world, but modern life and urbanisation has minimised our interaction with it and on average we now spend roughly 90% of our lives indoors.
Incorporating biophilic design elements into your home or office is a way towards bridging that gap.
What Is Biophilic Design?
The word biophilia means ‘a love of nature’ and given this affinity that we have with the natural world, biophilic design is about creating connections with it into our built environments, providing a positive impact on our wellbeing, improving our mood, physical and mental health and our cognitive function.
Biophilic design is an important consideration for interior design, architecture, town and city planning and provides a framework that can be used to improve our wellbeing in our built environments.
It is not about design trends and does not mean painting everything green and adding plants - although this is obviously just fine too! The design principles can be applied and incorporated into many different types of home decor and design styles. Essentially it is about making those connections to the natural world and works hand in hand with a more sustainable approach to interiors.
Having always felt at my happiest surrounded by nature I have been fascinated to discover and learn more about biophilic design principles and what an important part they play in the world of interior design to create happier and healthier spaces.
Here at Batteson Studio biophilic design has become an integral part of the design philosophy, I am passionate about creating spaces that make us feel good, tread lightly on the environment and of course look fantastic and reflect us as individuals too!
It is a big and fascinating subject and I wanted to start with sharing a few ways to incorporate these design principles into your home.
Break Up Straight Lines
Take a look around the room that you currently find yourself in, I imagine you are surrounded by a lot of straight lines. From a construction perspective it is simpler and far more cost effective to design and build in such a way. But take a look at the natural world and this is not the case. Rivers, branches, stems and shorelines follow their own meandering course, with twists, turns, curves and bends.
Whilst I’m not suggesting you rebuild your home with curved walls, you could consider how you can break up some of those straight lines by introducing natural forms and shapes into your space.
Curved pieces of furniture, rugs, cushions, accessories and textiles are the simple way to do this and will soften the space, handmade pottery offers a much more organic look and raw edges on natural materials provide a nod to the shapes and lines found in nature.
Find Your Colour Palette In Nature
If you are struggling with a colour palette try taking your inspiration from the natural world. Every single colour can be found in nature -apart from brilliant white which is a manmade colour. Nature has a pretty clever knack of knowing exactly what colour harmonies work together.
With colour being one of the biggest influences on mood, try taking your cue from a landscape or season that strongly resonates with you. Look closely at your favourite plants and flowers and note the stem colour against the colours of the petals.
Nature is not afraid to play with colour harmonies and contrasts and it never gets it wrong!
Take A View
Obviously we all enjoy a good view - a beautiful and uninterrupted view adds a hefty premium to the price of any property.
But even if your view is not quite rolling fields, rivers or oceans it is still worthy of consideration. Whether it’s out into your garden or a ‘borrowed view’ from neighbouring properties or even the street outside.
An enclosed place of refuge where you look out to the world beyond, taps into our human need to feel protected whilst wanting to see beyond our immediate surroundings into the world beyond. I absolutely love to create a cosy reading nook with a space like this.
If you have any control over the layout and design of your office environment then this is a great starting place to create a biophilic office design - a perfect tonic to looking at a screen all day.
Embrace The Elements
Not only do we benefit from looking out at a view beyond our window but we also feel more connected to changing light throughout the day, changing weather and seasons.
Close proximity to natural light instantly makes us feel good, and so too does fresh air coming into a space, a gentle breeze from an open window and seeing the movement of plants and trees beyond in our peripheral vision.
Moving water can have a very soothing effect and whilst you might not look out to the ocean, introducing water features such as a garden rill will still provide that element of movement.
The same goes for fire, be it a candle or a burning fire providing soft warm lighting - ideal in the evenings as we wind down to the gentle movement of a flame.
Evoke The Senses
When thinking about introducing biophilic design to our environment we should also look beyond the visual senses. Scent and sound are important elements that can be overlooked but go a long way towards creating your desired ambience.
Scent is pretty easy, sometimes fresh air will go a long way - but bringing in fresh fragrant flowers or branches or alternatively using organic essential oils can quickly transform a space.
Having a window open will hopefully allow you to enjoy the sound of birds, water and rustling leaves - but if not you can always mimic it.
Although perhaps not with whale music…!
Blur The Boundaries
If you have the benefit of outdoor space, whether a garden, terrace of balcony, look at how you can connect the indoor and outdoor living spaces, blurring the boundaries between outside and in.
Indoor plants are an obvious option here and bringing green walls or pots and planters into a living space are a literal way to do this. But you can also look at how the physical spaces connect. By continuing a floor surface from a living area that opens out into a terraced outdoor space you are bridging the gap between them and repeating materials, colours and shapes between the spaces will create a cohesive visual connection between the two.
Creating sheltered outdoors spaces is another way to blur the boundaries and if you have a garden, particularly in the summer months - look at moving pieces outside to creating a relaxed outdoor living room.
Sense Of Place
Always an important consideration when it comes to design, and certainly with biophilic, is your immediate local surroundings and the character and sense of place.
Creating a home that feels authentic and sympathetic to the local area is important both aesthetically and to create that feeling of connection to the landscape.
Choosing materials that are local to the region area will go a long way in doing so as well as being a more sustainable option.
Introduce Natural Materials
Using natural materials we can create physical connections to nature within our built environments. Not only visually, but also with the touch and feel of pieces formed and shaped in the natural world. Natural materials are far more tactile and pleasurable to touch than synthetic options and tend to wear beautifully too.
As well as using materials we can look at bringing natural elements in to our home through collections of found objects such as pebbles, pine cones or feathers.
If you are less keen on physically bringing nature in to your home then this ones for you.
There is no end of nature inspired motifs that you can introduce into your home. From illustrative botanical, or floral prints found on fabrics and wallpapers to more abstract representations using natural forms and shapes that are reminiscent of nature and living organisms.
You could also look at artwork with representative or more abstract depictions of nature that appeal to you. It's fairly likely there will already be elements of this in your home - even the most pared down aesthetic will likely have some artwork, or organic shapes, patterns or motifs. See - it’s that innate human response at work!
One thing we can all be sure of - is that nothing stays the same. Nowhere is this more apparent than in nature, which is always in a flux with the changing of the seasons and the life cycle of plants and trees. This includes an element of decay which is just part of the natural order of things.
It’s a good one to remember when it comes to our homes. We can feel the need to control and keep everything perfect, but it’s rarely possible for anything to stay that way.
So look for the beauty that can be found in the imperfections and in decay. The Japanese refer to this as wabi-sabi, appreciating the beauty in that that is ‘imperfect, impermanent and incomplete’.
If you still aren’t convinced why not buy yourself a lovely bunch of tulips and watch them as they go over, is there anything more fabulous than a tulip unfurling and looping all over the place as it ages and dries?! And even if you already know about the beauty of wabi-sabi I say treat yourself to some tulips anyway! Its probably a good reminder for us all - everything gets better with age ;)
Well those are just a few ways you can look at incorporating biophilic interior design into your home.
If you would like to have a chat with me about introducing these ideas into your home design project or any other design ideas then you can reach me here.
But in the meantime don’t forget to buy yourself those tulips!