There's no doubt 2019 is the year we re-acquaint ourselves with nature—by eating cleaner, living more sustainably, buying more plants, doing more yoga (and charging our crystals). Why? Because being closer to mother nature brings us immeasurable comfort, peace and much-needed clarity in an increasingly chaotic world.
According to the World Health Organization, stress-related illnesses, like mental health disorders and cardiovascular disease, are predicted to become the two largest contributors to disease by 2020. Considering our diminished connection to nature and the ever-increasing omnipresence of technology, there's less opportunity to recuperate our mental and physical energies now than ever before.
Welcome to the age of biophilic designPhoto by Valeria Boltneva from Pexels
Biophilia or “the love of nature” focuses on our attraction to nature and natural processes. The term popularized by American psychologist Edward O. Wilson in the 1980s suggests we all have a genetic connection to the natural world. Biophilic design is an architectural framework that weaves the beautiful, organic elements of nature into the indoor environment to stimulate and strengthen that connection.
What does this mean for our interiors? Biophilic design can translate to light-filled spaces, living, breathing plant life and soothing patterns that mimic nature's awe-inspiring processes—think flowing rivers, lush forests, honeycomb patterns and stunning bedrock motifs.
Fast factsPhoto by Marta Dzedyshko from Pexels
- Terrapin claims that hospitals incorporating biophilic design principles have demonstrated improved postoperative recovery rates (with less pain), 8.5% shorter stays and 22% less medication for their patients.
- A series of studies from Exeter University concluded employees were 15% more productive when workplaces were filled with just a few houseplants, as employees who actively engage with their surroundings are more efficient and more creative workers.
- Hotel guests are willing to pay 23% more for rooms with views of biophilic elements.
- Natural elements in the classroom are thought to increase rates of learning, improve concentration levels and attendance, and reduce impacts of ADHD.
How to incorporate biophilic design at home
You don't need to set out to build an entire plant wall (but definitely show us if you do!). The benefits of biophilic design can be achieved through small changes in your home and workspace.
Breathe life into your living areas
One of the simplest ways to introduce natural elements in your home is with plants. Yes, real ones that need water and sunshine. The living area is the best space to add aloe vera, fiddle-leaf fig trees and English ivy. Not only do these gorgeous plants add oxygen and vibrancy to your space, they're also low maintenance and can handle some neglect.
Light the way, naturallyPhoto by Roberto Nickson on Unsplash
Obviously, natural lighting is best when it comes to biophilic design. Access to large windows and unobscured views of the outdoors can work wonders for your mental health and energy levels. Artificial lighting disrupts the circadian rhythm, leading to decreased concentration during the day and restlessness at night. If you're in a space with small windows and minimal lighting, opt for natural daylight lamps that simulate natural light.
Bring biophilic elements to the officePhoto by Chris Gonzalez from Pexels
Whether you have the ability to tweak your office space at work or simply design your home office, it's important to remember this space is crucial to your well-being. If you're on a budget, spend your time and money improving your workspace. Spaces that are temperature controlled, with good air circulation and generous lighting are the key to improving focus. Plants, plush green tones and soft textures are going to help stimulate creativity. Opt for a beautiful natural wood desk for your space and an ergonomic chair.
Walls and flooringImage by Ferenc Keresi from Pixabay
Nature is wild and beautiful, so a combination of textures and tones is a perfect reflection of the natural environment just beyond our four walls. Get to know what you like and which materials, textures or patterns make you feel zen. Carpeting or wallpaper with soft ripples or your favourite florals are a safe place to start exploring.
A natural palette
The possibilities are endless when you're playing with yellows, blues, greens and warm earthy tones. Colours directly affect our mood so avoid grays, reds and dark, daunting colours. Green is the universal colour of calm—hence why actors and television show guests sit in a “green room” while waiting for their spot on camera.
Design trends may come and go but the biophilic design movement is here to stay.