Updated: Jul 30, 2019
Due to its increased popularity and awareness, chances are you’ve heard of the term Biophilia or Biophilic Design. Biophilia means ‘love of nature’ or ‘love of life and living things’.
When we go outdoors - perhaps for a cycle ride, on a dog walk to the beach or forest, our spirits are lifted and we can feel quite rested in the natural environment. It is this sense of being which is the fundamental basis of Biophilia, a term which was introduced by American biologist Edward O. Wilson in 1984. He believed that due to increasing urbanisation, people were losing their connection with nature.
On average we spend 90% of our time indoors - whether at home or at work; so if we are unable to get outside, there are ways of introducing outside elements into our interior spaces. We have the ability to adapt our surroundings to provide us with a place to recover from our busy and stressful lives.
It's easy to introduce some Biophilic design into your home, just a few small changes around the home can increase your feelings of happiness and well-being.
I've narrowed down 6 key elements - see below for some easy-to-follow steps on how to introduce Biophilic design into your home and / or work space.
1 - Surroundings
If you are lucky enough to have a great view of rolling hills or the riverside, then you have this section covered. By simply taking 5 minutes at regular intervals throughout the day and looking out the window, it will reduce your blood pressure, stress and anxiety and ground your thoughts ready to tackle your next task.
Position your chairs so you have a good view of your landscape outside the window. Or if the view isn't too appealing perhaps place some pot plants outside to enhance your outlook.
Many of us are not so fortunate to have great views and live in built up areas or cities, in which case a painting or photograph of a nice landscape can also have the desired effect. It could even be a photo you took whilst on honeymoon or holiday of a beautiful sunset, sometimes ordering canvasses from your own photography catalogue is just as cost effective - and unique too!
2 - Natural Light
Utilising the natural light that enters your property is very important and will highlight the connection to nature. Natural daylight is also essential for our health and balances our hormonal levels of serotonin and melatonin.
Choosing the right blinds and taking down heavy dark curtains, can really brighten the space, and if your windows are anything like mine with sticky fingerprints from your little cherubs, it might be worth cleaning them too! 😛
One way of making your room lighter is by brightening the space with white paint, this reflects natural light back into your room. Another fun effective idea (not the cheapest or easiest solution though) is to replace an interior wall with glass block. This can create much more light into otherwise dark areas and open up the space. A word of caution however! Glass blocks are not structural replacements for stud walls, so you will need to get advice from your building professionals before you go down this route. This option could be definitely worth pursuing if you fancy an Art Deco or 1980's style injected to your home.
3 - Plants
Introducing plants is a key element to Biophilic Design and are beneficial because they are living, breathing organisms making the air cleaner and creating calmer tranquil spaces.
There are so many different varieties to choose from (also depending on how good you are at watering), cactus and spider plants have always been a favourite low maintenance option. The corner of your room that you don't know what to do with - how about a yucca plant? If you place a hanging plant in a good location it frames the space, even potted herbs can make a nice feature in your kitchen, perhaps hang them on your wall.
If your office is lacking some foliage, sneak in a plant for your desk at work, a succulent is a good option as it's unlikely to die from dehydration if you are away on holiday for a week. You can tell your boss that having plants at work enhances your creativity, performance, and productivity! Bonus.
Research has shown that exposure to nature can lower stress, elevate your mood, make you feel more relaxed and improve cognitive functions.
Plants are also great for absorbing, deflecting and diffusing sound. The more plants you have, the size of the plant, and the surface area of the leaves will all have an effect on sound absorption which can help create a good acoustic environment for your home.
4 - Colour
As we know by now that Biophilic Design is all about nature, using natural colours is another way of bringing the outside in. Introducing certain shades of green, brown and pops of colour to an otherwise subdued palette will mirror the effect that nature creates; a happy, productive and creative environment.
5 - Natural elements
Choosing natural materials in your home, such as wood and natural fibres is a great way to connect with nature indoors. Materials which are tactile; wood, seagrass, cork and wicker are all good choices, plus they are often hard wearing and will have an additional benefit of being sustainable. It is not just about seeing or being within nature, it is also having contact with nature which makes us happier and adds to our physical and mental well-being.
6 - Design it!
So you haven't got the view, you're not great at watering plants and the thought of having anything living in your home other than you, is quite frankly a big responsibility. Fear not, because there are still some options left, one being wallpaper! There are so many cool designs on the market using big statement tropical, leafy wallpaper or a huge floral mural. Cole & Sons offer some great designs. You don't have to go mad and hang it on all four walls, choose a wall which will complement the design, here's some useful Do's and Don'ts of Feature Walls.
There's no need to commit to wallpaper either, removable wallpaper has become increasingly popular, such as the mural pictured above. Wayfair also offers a good selection of botanical removable wallpaper.
You can integrate other nature inspired designs into your home by choosing accessories, such as cushions, art and lighting. I have included a selection of ideas to turn your space into a mini paradise!
Feel free to leave a comment below of any other ideas you have for Biophilic Design in your home or work space. I'm interested to hear any changes you've made which has made a big impact on your health and well being. 🌱