What is biophilic design?

Become more at home with nature

Biophilia is a term used to describe a person’s innate love of nature. It focuses on human kind’s built-in attraction and genetic connection to the natural world, built up through hundreds of thousands of years of living in rural settings. In modern society, most people spend a lot of their time inside buildings. As a result, we are becoming disconnected with nature, contributing to stress and mental health issues. What’s the answer? Biophilic design aims to incorporate the natural world into the spaces that we live and work in. It also reestablishes our connection to nature, improving our health and wellbeing. Want to make your life greener? Read on to find out how.


Invoke a sense of place

Our commercialised, global economy means that we see the same materials and products everywhere we go – across towns, cities and even countries. As a result, most of our homes have a sense of placelessness – they are no longer rooted in materials that are native to the region we live, nor do they reflect the climate or culture. Wherever you live, be it beside the ocean, near a forest, or in a riverside town, understand the character of your location, and use it to influence and ground your home in place.


Bring the outside in

The inside of our homes are often sterile, with no reference to nature or the planet we live in; so try bringing in elements that will remind us of the world outside our walls. Plants, flowers, and natural materials like wood and stone are great ways to add biophilic design to your home. Also, try keeping a window open (when it’s not too cold!), as this will allow fresh air to flow into your home, as well as daylight, birdsong, and the sounds of rain, linking us with the weather and season.


Biophilic home 1


Shadows and light

Evidence shows that we are healthier when our daily rhythms work in balance with the natural flow of time – having access to good daylight helps with this. Without really thinking about it, we map the time of day through the movement of sunlight and shadows move across a room, and instinctively, we gravitate towards sunny and warm spaces. Think about creating areas in your home where you can sit in the sun, or create cosy places where you can curl up with a book as darkness falls.


Natural shapes and forms

Nature doesn’t often work in straight lines – think of the curve of waves and the softness of petals and shells. As humans, we have an affinity for these shapes, and we are drawn to their complexity and raw beauty. Due to it being more cost effective many building materials are dominated by straight lines and harsh right angles. It is therefore difficult to use natural forms in the shape of a building. Instead, try incorporating patterns and motifs from nature into the decoration of your rooms.


Spatial variability

The natural world is abundant with variety – landscapes differ immensely as you go from place to place, from meadows, to deserts. In our homes, we so often follow themes, or favour certain materials – a biophilic design is a perfect example. Try mimicking the spatial variability found in nature by creating a variety of spaces for different moods and tasks. Don’t stick to one type of flooring, mix it up with wood, fluffy carpets, or place textured rugs. You could also use starkly different colour schemes from room to room, to invoke diversity.

Biophilic home 2