Everywhere you look, adding greenery and natural elements seems to be the trend. Though what if it is more than a trend? What if it is a movement towards creating a more balanced and calm space where you can live, work and be creative?
The concept of biophilic design or biophilia has been around for centuries. It is not a design element that has come and gone like some trends that can make a space feel outdated within a year. Author Sally Coulthard notes in her book Biophilia - You, Nature, Home, that “...It’s the simple, core truth that humans need a connection with nature to be content. It’s the idea that people - since the beginning of time - must feel linked to their natural environment, and the other living things in it, not only to survive, but to thrive. It’s a fundamental part of who we are.”
Biophilia is more than adding a few houseplants (that you can’t kill easily) to a room. It is an entire philosophy about how we need to connect with nature for our well-being and I think a way to care for the environment and designing spaces from that perspective is the way forward to a more connected and contented life. Coultard outlines the following “...three key threads that weave together to make a biophilic space” as follows:
“One is to ensure that your environment puts you in direct, physical contact with nature – whether it’s filling your house with flowers and plants, enjoying a real fire or making sure your home office and bedrooms are awash with fresh air.
The next is to embrace as many different things in your living space that remind you of nature – this could be natural patterns, colours, materials and textures.
And the third is to live in a way that helps you connect to natural rhythms and outside spaces – this could be eating more seasonally, letting in more natural light and making the most of outdoor views.”
With the advent of technology, we have become both more connected to the world and at the same time disconnected from it. With new research showing the impact our environment can have on us, it has been highlighted that being in nature is good for both our physical health and our mental health. Concepts like ‘forest bathing’, which according to the National Geographic’s Sunny Fitzgerald emerged in “...Japan in the 1980s as a physiological and psychological exercise called shinrin-yoku 森林浴 (“forest bathing” or “taking in the forest atmosphere”). The purpose was twofold: to offer an eco-antidote to tech-boom burnout and to inspire residents to reconnect with and protect the country’s forests.”
Based on concepts like biophilia and ‘forest bathing’, designers and architects are finding new ways to incorporate natural elements like wood in their design. The studio of Paraguay-based architecture firm Equipo de Arquitectura is a great example of not only incorporating biophilic design principles but working sustainably with local resources and recycled materials.
The design principles behind the biophilic design philosophy strongly influence how I come up with collection ideas and what type of materials to use. I think about how the materials will bring a natural element to a space, while also thinking about how a piece can be used in nature and seamlessly blend in, creating a continuous space of content.
Keep this in mind not only next time you are thinking about designing a new space but also how caring for what matters, nature, is one of the most important actions we can take together.
Coulthard, S. (2020). Biophilia: A handbook for bringing the natural world into your life. Kyle Books.
Coulthard, S. (2022, January 19). Biophilia at home: how to bring nature into your interiors | Neptune. Neptune. Retrieved March 4, 2022, from https://www.neptune.com/inspiration/2020/11/biophilia-at-home-how-to-bring-nature-into-your-interiors/
Pasini, M., Brondino, M., Trombin, R., & Filippi, Z. (2021). A Participatory Interior Design Approach for a Restorative Work Environment: A Research-Intervention. Frontiers in Psychology, 12. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2021.718446
Fitzgerald, S. (2021, May 4). The secret to mindful travel? A walk in the woods. National Geographic. Retrieved March 4, 2022, from https://www.nationalgeographic.com/travel/article/forest-bathing-nature-walk-health
Equipo de Arquitectura. (n.d.). Equipo de Arquitectura. Retrieved March 4, 2022, from https://equipodearquitectura.com/en/home/