What is Biophilic Design?

Updated: Mar 11, 2020

"Nature holds the key to our aesthetic, intellectual, cognitive and even spiritual satisfaction." E. O. Wilson

Biophilia quite literally means “a love of nature”.

Biophilic Design is an innovative way to harness elements from nature into interior and architectural design. The idea of biophilic design was built into a framework of ideas by one of the pioneers of biophilia Professor Stephen Kellert. This framework allows us to pick and choose nature inspired elements that can improve this connection in buildings that we live and work in.

Biophilic Design Framework | 3 Key Aspects

  • Direct experience with nature – incorporating real elements of nature such as plants, natural light, fresh air, animals, water and scenery

  • Indirect experience of nature – design representation or image of nature, items that mimic characteristics of the natural world. These include pictures and artwork, natural materials such as wood, shapes and forms that occur in nature.

  • Experience of space and place – spatial characteristics of the natural environment that create the feeling of being safe, excited, inspired, relaxed and comfortable.

This office space (pictured above) has key elements of Biophilic design - an abundance of natural light, plants, wood furniture, nature inspired coloured wallpaper, organic patterned carpet, a spatial feeling of comfort and inspiration.

What are the Benefits of Incorporating Biophilic Design into Interior Environments?

Being in nature makes us feel good and environments that mimic the natural world have positive effects on our overall health and well-being. Incorporating natural elements within our homes and workplace helps to reduce stress, blood pressure and heart rates, and increase productivity and creativity. Being connected to nature keeps us inspired and productive.

Living plants 'natures filters' have all the positive effects as above but they also help clean the air by absorbing pollutants, toxins and airborne microbes, such as mould spores and bacteria.

The Benefits of Biophilic Design in Interiors:

  • Home: Creates a peaceful environment allowing us to feel rejuvenated and safe.

  • Office/Workspace: Can reduce stress, help increase productivity and creativity and potentially improve staff retention.

  • Heathcare sector: Creates calm spaces for staff and may improve the hospital experience for patients.

  • Retail sector: Helps create a feeling of familiarity and trust, enabling customers to be comfortable in the often sterile setting of a retail store.

  • Hospitality Design: Hotel - guests feel calm and relaxed; hotels can often charge a premium for rooms with views of Biophilic elements. Restaurant – guests feel comfortable and happy and tend to want to return which can result in increased food and drink sales.

The photos in the slideshow below are examples of office spaces with Biophilic design and ones without. Can you 'feel' the difference?

How to Implement Biophilic Design into Interiors?

  • The most common and easiest option is to add living plants. Potted floor and table plants, hanging plants, living walls.

  • Maximise natural daylight by placing mirrors around to allow light to bounce around the room; choose window treatments that don’t block the light and consider the brightest part of the room when arranging furniture.

  • Include natural elements like wood, rattan, bamboo etc. into furniture, flooring, panelling. Natural fabrics such as organic cotton, hemp, linen, ramie and responsibly sourced wool. Create textures with natural fibre rugs, cushions and rattan or rough/raw materials such as natural agate and burled wood to any room and create a striking contrast to fabric textures.

  • Add natural scents from essential oils and flowers.

  • Create sounds of nature through fountains and music.

This bathroom (pictured above) from one of our projects is a perfect but simple example of Biophilic design.

If you would like to experience the benefits of Biophilic design contact us and we can help incorporate it into your space.


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