Not heard of biophilic design? Silvia Ceria tells us why this nature-inspired approach to interiors is beneficial for both your wellbeing and the planet.
We are all aware of the benefits of spending time in nature. But, often in our modern lives it can feel like we only see nature out of our office windows, or fleetingly whilst popping out to grab a sandwich at lunch. So, what’s the solution? Biophilic design, or, connecting the outdoors with the indoors. Interior designer, Silvia Ceria, tells us how and why we should all make our homes a shade or two greener.
My journey with DforDesign started with a moment of deep self-reflection. I was stuck in an office job I really didn’t like and I remember feeling like I was literally wasting my days. The moment I realised it was quite shocking to me, and that’s when I decided I needed to pull myself out of that situation. What followed was an intense period where I looked inside myself as I never did before. Then I came across a book about interior design which made something tick inside my mind. I did some more research and enrolled in design school. I loved it so much I understood that was my path to follow. And then, in 2017, the real journey began as I opened my own website, DforDesign. Today, DforDesign is both my job and my passion. Through my e-design services, I help people create a home where they can truly feel good.
Biophilic design is an approach to the design of interiors that puts people’s wellbeing in first place. It originates from a rich body of research proving that contact with nature is good for our health. When connected with nature, people are less stressed, can concentrate better and can even recover from sickness faster. Considering that we spend 90 per cent of our time indoors, it’s essential to recreate this positive connection with nature in interiors. And this is exactly what biophilic design does. It all starts with defining the exact aspects of nature that improve our health.
Interior design is commonly considered to be about making spaces beautiful and functional. Which is certainly true, but there’s more to it. In fact, our surroundings can have an impact on our health and wellbeing, too. For instance, colours can actively change how we feel in a space with their relaxing or stimulating effects. Even more, including biophilic principles in a design will help with our productivity and make us more relaxed overall. Last but not least, there are elements that, despite being invisible, make a huge difference to our wellbeing – one of them is air quality, and in our living and working spaces, air quality is often very poor. This mainly has to do with bad volatile organic compounds (VOCs), that are released in the air by building materials, paints, glues and, really, everything we bring into our homes and offices. One way to improve the situation is by using air-purifying plants that are able to absorb these VOCs, leaving the air cleaner.
Plants are always a great addition to interiors, as they give a touch of colour and life to any space. But my favourites are certainly air-purifying plants – they come with an interesting story too, as these properties of plants were incidentally discovered by NASA. They were looking for solutions to improve air quality in space stations and they eventually found out that some plants absorb formaldehyde, mould spores and other bad VOCs that are commonly found in indoor spaces. Some of these special plants are Boston sword ferns, snake plants, orchids, daisies and, of course, the aloe vera. These are by far my favourites and I’ve got them in my own home too. It feels good to know they’re cleaning the air I breathe and this makes me smile every time I water them.
Designing a biophilic space is a full design process that goes from space planning to accessorising. Still, there are some things we can all do to make our home more biophilic. The first is surely adding plants. Not just one though – interestingly enough, the variation in nature is what is most beneficial to us. So for the best results, mix different plants to recreate the variety we see in nature. Similarly, if you have a window that looks into nature, leave the view open to emphasise it. And if you have a balcony, no matter how small it is, you can create your own natural view by adding plants outdoors. Another aspect of nature that improves our wellbeing is the richness of natural patterns and textures. To recreate it indoors, try to incorporate natural materials like wood or stone. You can also bring in some nature-inspired patterns, like a wood grain wallpaper or an artwork representing leaf veins.