What is Biophilic Design?
Basics of Biophilic Design
We bet the first thing that comes to mind when reading the title of this blog is….. Huh? We don’t blame you. The phrase biophilic design usually isn’t in everyday conversation, nor does it roll off the tongue. But what if we told you that it is slated to be one of the hottest design trends of 2023? Would you believe us?
The truth is, you are probably more familiar with biophilic design than you think you are. In fact, this type of design has always been a prominent part of interior design and architecture without anyone giving it such a fancy name. In fact, the very nature of your being probably craves it. So what is this type of design, and what makes it so special?
Why Biophilic Design?
According to psychological theory, human beings are drawn to have connections, especially to something greater than themselves. One of those things that people long to have a connection with is nature.
People now are busy. Work, commitments, worries, and stress, all take up a good part of the day. Even when it is time to rest, electronics are used as a way of relaxation. Many of us keep our phones by our bedside, and it is the first thing that we reach for when we wake up. As our lives have gotten busier, it seems that seldom do people take the time to actually mentally relax.
Do you ever notice that when you are able to be outside, in a peaceful environment, you feel relaxed and then later, energized? Spending time in nature allows our brains to take a break. Breathing in fresh air restores our feeling of well-being. When you take the opportunity to mentally relax, once you begin any tasks at hand, you feel more focused, and more involved in what you need to accomplish. As a byproduct, it can actually make you feel like you can accomplish more. The focus of Biophilic design is to draw on the connection between you, your home, and nature, thus replicating that feeling of being in nature, and all the restorative properties that it has to offer. The term “biophilia” broken down means “Life” and “friendly feeling toward”. In short, to have an affinity to nature and to be drawn towards it. Using this type of design within your home is said to rekindle the relationship that we had with nature long ago.
Simply put, biophilic design is a type of design that focuses on bringing nature in, and creating an environment that creates a connection with nature within your home.
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What Does Using This Type of Design Do For You?
Believe it or not, this design practice actually is GOOD for you. Studies have shown when one has a view of nature in their environment, they can actually feel better.
- Students studying with a view of nature, have done better on tests than those without.
- Hospital patients with rooms featuring views of nature, have shorter stays.
- Office workers with views and greenery within their office are said to have less stress, anxiety, and depression.
Nature has a way of lifting your spirits, giving you more energy, and less fatigue. Spending time in nature is proven to reduce your cortisol levels - which is the hormone that regulates your stress response, metabolism, blood pressure, blood sugar, and inflammation, and helps regulates your sleep/wake cycle. Having a high or low cortisol level can be harmful to your health, so keeping it on an even keel is key. Studies show that spending at least 20 to 30 minutes in a natural environment or a nature setting reduces your cortisol levels.
By mimicking or taking on the characteristics of a natural environment within your home, even if you lack the actual view, your home will be a less stressful environment - with positive effects not only on you but those you live with as well. You will also have an aesthetically and visually pleasing home, and an environment that makes you feel healthier, gives you inspiration, and is emotionally restorative.
How Do You Incorporate Biophilic Design Into Your Home?
Biophilic design, contrary to popular belief, is not about sticking a bunch of houseplants in your home. Though plants can play a big part in creating a relaxing environment, it is more than that. Biophilic design incorporates all the senses within its use and attempts to mimic the feelings of being in nature.
- The use of natural elements within your home through wood (wood means/furniture), and natural materials like marble and stone, as well as plants.
- Warm colors and earthy, neutral tones help create a cohesive and soothing palette throughout your home
- The feeling of space - both large and small. In one way, you want to have great sight lines within your home, which is why open plans and soaring ceilings are very popular. Make sure that there is enough space around your furniture elements so that things feel uncluttered and unencumbered.
- At the same time, there is a need for closeness - for you to have spaces in which to seek refuge - a quiet and cozy corner to read a book, or the use of deep color in a bedroom that gives you the feeling of comfort.
- Light is also a key element within your home environment. Windows are of key importance, but this can also be adapted if no window is available through the use of lighting. It is important to have a mix of light throughout your home both direct and indirect, with varying degrees of intensity.
- Airflow is also important. Adjusting the temperature, and having a comfortable environment will make you feel more at ease. A home that is too warm or too cold is not conducive to relaxation. Think "Goldilocks and the 3 Bears", you want your home to feel just right. Also, as weather permits, open windows, and a soft breeze can mimic the feeling of being outdoors and also prevent your home's air quality from being too stagnant.
- As much as visual stimuli are important, so are nonvisual. The use of music or other sounds such as birdsong or the sound of water helps "submerge" your sense of sound into feeling at peace. The use of subtle natural scents also can be incorporated.
- As much as your indoor environment is important in creating a relaxing home if you are able to create an outdoor space, that is a definite plus. With more construction, natural space is at a premium, so even if you have no actual outdoor space, creating a small corner on a porch or a balcony that is filled with plants or a water feature can help you achieve your own little nature nook.
In some ways, biophilic design has indeed been used all along, perhaps without us even realizing it. When incorporating this type of design into your own home, spend some time outdoors and think about the type of environment that you would like to create. What are the natural spaces that make you happiest or most relaxed? When you have time off, where do you go? Try to take certain characteristics of your favorite outdoor space and infuse them into your home environment, you may just feel all the better for it!
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