The Biophilic Mission: Merging Nature and Design for Better Health
The traditional approach to architectural creation tends to isolate landscape and interior design as two separate forces with entirely different dynamics and purposes. What if there was a way to unify these spheres, where long vines of ivy creep around the bed frame and never-ending fractals of leaf veins and river tributaries are mimicked in the ceiling woodwork? This is the mission of biophilic design.
The term biophilia is derived from the Greek root words ‘bio,’ meaning ‘life,’ and ‘philía’ meaning ‘affinity’ or ‘tendency toward.’ Therefore, biophilia translates directly to ‘affinity for life’ or love of living things and nature. Follow InterLux Interior’s descent into the world of biophilia and the health benefits of merging nature and design.
The Principles of Biophilic Design
The principles beneath the canopy of biophilic design are divided into three categories:
1. Nature in the Space
This category addresses the direct and fleeting presence of living organisms and the moving, breathing, ever-evolving quality of natural elements. The company of plant life, animals, breezes, sounds, and other multi-sensory information creates a meaningful experience and direct connection to the natural environment. Both visual and non-visual stimuli, from water features and potted plants to dynamic lighting, airflow, and temperature, are encompassed by Nature in the Space.
To the right, Nitin Barchha and Disney Davis of The White Room created a luscious oasis of organic shapes and undulating forms just outside the bustling city of Mumbai.
2. Natural Analogues
Organic yet non-living and indirect allusions of nature fall under the category of Natural Analogues. Objects, materials, textures, and shapes found in the natural world reveal themselves as artwork, décor, woodwork, furniture, and textiles in the man-made environment.
Biomorphic forms inspired by naturally occurring “codes,” such as the Fibonacci spiral seen in the above staircase, as well as a spatial hierarchy of the rich sensory information encountered in nature reveal themselves as analogues in biophilic design.
Many trending design styles, such as Mid-Century Modern and Scandinavian design, are full of Natural Analogues.
3. Nature of the Space
The final category of biophilic design pivots around spatial configurations in nature. Imagine a massive, unimpeded landscape view overlooking the Mediterranean from a balcony in Santorini or a quiet refuge of solitude in the wave-like patterns of Arizona’s Antelope Canyon. A sensation of mystery can be created from partially blocked views. A mild sense of risk like stepping over stones in a shallow pool can create a skin-tingling thrill while carrying us through nostalgia of childhood summers spent in the neighborhood creek.
From the Nature in the Space to the Nature of the Space, biophilic interiors connect occupants to the Earth for a chance to breathe and heal.
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How Biophilic Design Helps Us Heal
Humans are drawn to the outdoors because of the freedom and tranquility it provides. In our chaotic, screen-driven age with society evolving at a rate too fast for ecosystems to keep up with, nature helps us slow down and reflect on the purpose of our existence.
Of course, we grow and reproduce as other species do, but the human condition allows us to experience beauty in a visceral way that, as far as we know, makes us unique. Incorporating nature into our indoor environments, where most of us spend the majority of our time, promotes physical, emotional, and intellectual well-being. There is science to prove it.
Cognitive Function & Performance
Our mental agility, analytical thinking skills, and memory can be hindered from extended periods of intense direct attention, leading to mental fatigue. Routine connections to nature act as a breath of fresh air, restoring our higher cognitive abilities.
Studies have shown that spaces with more natural light help students learn more effectively and efficiently. Employees are more productive and engaged at work and their circadian system functioning improves.
“Day-lighting” can achieve profound impacts with applications such as passive thermal control as light waxes and wanes in intensity throughout the day, light color materials for ceilings to provide a feeling of openness, and shelf lights below windows to bounce the natural light further into the room.
Our brains haven’t evolved to handle all of the unnatural stimulation we’re bombarded with in our everyday lives. Evidence shows heavy traffic, noisy aircraft, the constant ping of social notifications, and even the extensive blue light from our screens can take a toll on our mental health.
However, the sounds of a bubbling brook, birds chirping, or wind rustling the leaves on a tree can reduce stress while lowering heart rate and blood pressure.
Colors found in nature can be highly effective for reducing psychological distress. With a color palette that mimics the natural environment, people feel less anxious, with better concentration and overall outlook. A living wall of greenery can provide visual relaxation while purifying and pumping fresh oxygen into the air.
Research shows that color palettes of a forest, mountain range, savanna, waterfall, or any other natural ecosystem can reduce anxiety and stress while improving concentration and state-of-mind.
Physiological responses from interactions with nature include the release of muscle tension, lowered diastolic blood pressure, and a decrease of stress hormones such as cortisol in the bloodstream. While easing chronic stress, encounters of mystery and mild risk can trigger acute stress and a temporary increase in heart-rate that are suggested to help regulate overall physical well-being.
The World Health Organization claims that heart disease and stress-related illnesses are two of the greatest contributors to poor health. The introduction of biophilic design into more offices and homes can help relieve individuals of poor mental and physical health.
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Bring Outside Indoors for Better Health
For thousands of years, designers have searched for ways to incorporate nature in our man-made environments. The difference today is that there is now science to prove why this biophilic design is essential to our well-being.
There are countless ways to bring outside indoors and merge your living space with the natural environment. From placing an organically curved coffee table with an army of lush foliage to redesigning your entire home to flow with the landscape, our expert interior designers at InterLux Interiors can help you create your indoor jungle, desert daydream, or underwater cavern.
Our design team has the tools to create your environment of peace and bliss. Contact us today to schedule your consultation.