Biophilic Design for creating a happier, healthier interior, but what is it?
Have you ever noticed how you feel when you are outside? Maybe it's a walk on the beach or through the woods. At home you can have extraordinary pleasure in your own garden. Even your humble potted plants can bring you joy! This 'feeling' is what form the building blocks of 'Biophilia'. But it's not just about how we relate to nature; it's about how contact with nature makes us happier.
The United Nations predicts that by 2030, 60% of the world's population will live in urban environments. Despite becoming a more urbanized civilization, it is as if our human instincts need a connection to our natural environment. Understanding that relationship between man and nature becomes a huge problem in the world of interior design and architecture. Biophilic space design is about giving back to people that connection with the outdoors, by incorporating or mimicking it into the structure of the design of interiors or buildings.
So how do you integrate Biophilic Design into your interior?
I could talk about the research until tomorrow, but my question as a designer is how can I take that information and design better spaces for my beautiful clients? We now spend 90% of our time indoors, so we step further and further away from the healing power of nature. There are a number of elements in the design that can push our "Happy Nature buttons" and I've tried to narrow them down to 5 core elements.
If you can't be in nature, looking at nature through your window is a nice alternative. The physical benefits of admiring a beautiful natural view are a reduced heart rate and stress levels. I often notice when interacting with clients how much they enjoy being in the rooms with the large windows overlooking their gardens. Unfortunately, the possibility of a beautiful view from one of your windows is either something you have or you don't, as not every home is physically able to look over those beautiful green hills. The key is to get the most out of what you have! If you're renovating, add glass doors, for example, and keep curtains from covering your window. Open that view so that the outside pours in.
We all need daylight! Over the past few years, we have found that a number of people suffer from SAD (seasonal affective disorder). These people suffer from depression in the winter months, caused by the lack of sunlight. While we now recognize SAD as a mental health problem, sometimes we don't see how we all need a dose of natural sunlight with added vitamin D. One of the worst culprits is offices, which often cover windows to keep out the sun of computer screens and deprives their employees of contact with natural light. Shopping centers, for example, consciously shut you off from contact with natural light, so that you lose all sense of time and shop until you drop.
The answer to this comes back to your windows, to let that light flow through. Go as big as you can and avoid window treatments covering them. To keep as much light as possible, I often suggest glass doors, through the public areas of the house, so that you can still close doors to maintain warmth and the sense of security. But at the same time the light can flow from one space to the next.
The craze for houseplants may not just be a fad, it may just be the cure we have been looking for. Not only do they make us feel calmer and more relaxed, but they are also shown in studies of office workers to increase creativity. All that, as well as working hard to purify our air and make our homes better for our health. But before you think you can do it with a fake plant, unfortunately! Only the real thing in Biophilic Design is effective because we need that connection to REAL nature to get all the benefits.
When I first started reading about Biophilic Design and how to flood our homes with beautiful natural views, daylight and plants, I thought, "Well that's great, but what about people in apartments, houses and workspaces? who just don't have access to these things? How do I give them the benefits of Biophilic Design as an interior designer? " The answer came in the choice of materials we use in our designs and you guessed it, natural materials are the best choice. It's not just about 'looking' at a wooden table, it's also about our response to how it feels physical to touch that table, if we can take it off the earth and make it with our hands, we want to connect to it.
Okay, I know I just said NO to fake plants, but this is something else. We cannot always have a view of the sea, but we can have a painting of the sea. Representations of nature in our art, wall papers or fabrics can provide us with some of the relaxing benefits of the 'real deal'. So that banana print wallpaper is not only the design statement you'll want to make in the downstairs bathroom, but it can also fulfill the emotional benefits your human instinct needs to look at lots of leafy green. That is why I also offer my own nature-inspired artworks for homes, schools, offices, hospitals, retail, etc. on: www.kashmerehakim.com
The final stage to answer the question of how I can create the benefits of Biophilic Design when I have little access to nature comes in the choice of colors we use. Again, we try to represent what's outside our home, within our home with a color palette that creates happy, productive and creative environments. Not surprisingly, the main colors that emerged were dark green, blue, tan, tan, and brown gold. Unfortunately, the more yellow-green colors turned out to remind people of sick and dying plants causing a slightly higher stress response. Since I unfortunately recently lost one of my cacti, I know what they mean! Now you might start thinking, "Oh those colors all sound pretty bleak and I like bright colors." Do not panic! According to Human Spaces report "The Global Impact of Biophilic Design on the Workplace" indicates:
"People are attuned to looking for colors that indicate flowers and fruit. Therefore, judicious use of bright colors will help compare a space to natural conditions and improve user preference."
In other words, bright colors are not prohibited, but I would use them as the "accent colors" in a design scheme. Consider, for example, a dark green sofa with a beautiful shade of purple and salmon-colored cushions! Like flowers on the most luscious tree!
Biophilic design. For an interior that is beautiful, but also has a positive impact on health and well-being.