What Is Biophilic Design?
Biophilia in an office space
Biofilia means human’s affinity to the natural world.
We can break down the word “biophilic” to better understand this:
- “bio-”, meaning life, such as in “biology”
- “-philic”, from Philia, Greek for love
Therefore, biophilic is a love of the natural world, and biophilic design is a desire to bring ideas from nature into the interior design of our homes.
However, we can get more specific
Not everything that is natural is conducive to human wellbeing. Biophilic design is specifically interested in increasing our exposure to elements of the natural world that are associated with positive human health, fitness and mental state.
The design philosophy of biophilia asks us to consider that humans have evolved with an affiliation to nature, and cutting us off from something we are evolutionarily familiar might not be optimal for our happiness.
An obvious example of biophilia design is putting plants into our living spaces. But biophilia is a multi-faceted design principle. It aims to consider all aspects of the natural environment and how they affect our five senses. Then, designers build interiors around those ideas.
There is no easier way to feel connected to nature than to use potted plants. Just because it is easy doesn’t mean it makes less of a difference. In fact, the benefits to keeping houseplants are numerous!
Plants such as ivy have always lived happily on walls, but the modern version of living walls, (sometimes also called green walls) are quite different. Using hydroponics to allow plants to grow without soil, we can now create freestanding panels of live plants to site on any interior wall.
It’s easy to forget that our bodies didn’t evolve with much in the way of artificial light. It is sunlight that dictated our circadian rhythms (which is the secret to high quality sleep), provided us with vitamins (allowing our bodies to produce vitamin D), and it is even bright sunlight provides the best environment to focus in. In other words, get natural sunlight into your house, as much as possible!
Large openings to the outside
Archways, conservatories, French doors, large windows: all of these help provide a visual link to the outdoors. Rooms without windows make us feel claustrophobic. Biophilic design tells us to do the opposite, and open our homes instead of close them off.
The presence of water is calming and compelling. Water features indoors are rare and, as a result, quite special. However, they are difficult to implement and won’t always look appropriate. Another option would be to create a fountain outside close to a living area, so it can be enjoyed easily both indoors and out.
Feeders to attract birds, ponds or tanks for fish, and foliage to encourage creatures big and small to stop by. There are some forms of wildlife — those that are dangerous, dirty or fear-inducing — that we want to avoid. But anyone who has enjoyed being woken by birdsong can appreciate having the right sort of wildlife nearby.
We seem to be predisposed to enjoy colours associated with sky, sea, plant life and earth. That means sunset reds, clear greys, leafy greens, sandy yellows and blues or green-blues of the sea. Many of our ranges use natural colour schemes, including our Cotswold Moonlight Furniture.
And if you love wooden furniture, well, we’re not called House of Oak for nothing: we love it too! Browse our gorgeous oak furniture ranges right here and bring some natural beauty into living spaces.
The word “biomorphic” is used to describe shapes and patterns that evoke the natural world. Biomorphism rejects the typical efficient, geometric construction paradigm in favour of rounded and irregular patterns.
Evidence and Popularity
Biophilia is an ongoing area of research, but science is already giving us good signs that it works:
- Buildings.com wrote about a study in which 2/3rds of office workers reported feeling happy in an environment with greenery.
- A paper from the University of Georgia indicates that biophilic design increases health, wellbeing and connectedness to nature.
Moreover, some of the largest companies in the world are investing in biophilic design. In their headquarters in Seattle, Amazon has built a monument to biophilic thinking called “the spheres”, three giant spheres that combine leisure rooms and business facilities with a love for nature.
Meanwhile, down in Silicon Valley, Facebook’s version of biophilic design takes the form of a rooftop garden — though, at 9-acres in size, it is more of a park than a garden.
If biophilic design is good enough for multi-billion dollar companies like these, maybe there is something to it.
If you want to explore adding biophilic flair to your home, you may also be interested in our garden furniture ranges.