The healing nature of Biophilia in design

May 26, 2019

The healing nature of Biophilia in design

The healing nature of Biophilia in design

We explore how the multi-sensorial effect of Biophilic design enables us to be happier in our lives, better at our jobs and more connected to nature.

Here’s an undeniable fact: nature is healing. Dozens of studies worldwide have proven what a positive effect nature as well as environments that mimic nature can have on overall health and wellbeing. How often have you heard of “bringing the outdoors in” when wanting to freshen up your home? Or welcoming spring indoors? Something as simple as arranging some fresh flowers in a vase can inject life and vitality into an indoor space and change the very charge of the air indoors.

In the design world, there’s a word for this phenomena. Biophilia, first popularised by Edward O. Wilson in 1984, describes this innate, nourishing relationship between humans and nature are our need to be connected to and thriving from a natural environment. It describes a love of life, a love of living systems. It is our link to the natural world, an innovative way to harness this connection so we may create natural environments for us to live and work in.

Biophilia allows for consciously including nature in our interior design, and these days, it’s on the rise everywhere. It’s the reason plants are everywhere at the moment, in the form of succulents living in concrete planters, or shelves filled with spider plants or ferns, or indoor hanging plants defining a corner near a window, or even the vertical garden walls that are a feature in new hotels, restaurants and public spaces all over town. Even printed wallpaper with banana leaf motifs or palm leaf patterns are part of this trend.


The Benefits of Biophilia

There’s much more to Biophilia than simple aesthetics. Benefits of Biophilic design is that it lowers stress levels, improves creativity, productivity and mental well being, and can even allow for better air quality if fresh plants fill a space. It evokes a sense of beauty and calm in your interior, whether you bring in nature through a water feature, or a fish tank, or greenery.

You can also add natural touches by incorporating the patterns and design styles that mimic nature – think honeycomb patterns, furnishings with curved edges, even artificial planting or wood-effect flooring. It’s not so much about the “what”; it’s more about how the inclusion of natural elements make people feel in a particular space.



Bringing nature indoors

The most obvious way to create a direct experience of nature would be through filling your space with plants. If keeping real plants alive feels intimidating, consider the faux route; fake greenery is just as consistent with biophilic design. Consider Urban Nest’s artificial Vanda orchid with exposed roots or just a simple rooted branch; you’d be hard pressed to tell it isn’t real. Same goes for the gorgeous, huge faux Monstera leaf plant. We also stock the immensely popular DIY Himmelis Diamond airplanters, that you can build yourself and use as wall decor and fill with real air plants.

HK Living impression 2017


Mixing textures and bringing the outdoors in through natural elements is another trick in Biophilic design. Something as simple as these twig hooks, made of acacia wood with exposed bark, can ground your design.

Perhaps the strongest statement you can make in incorporating natural elements of design indoors is a statement wallpaper, either through a feature wall or taking the plunge and using wallpaper throughout your space. Urban Nest stocks non-woven, leather-like wallpaper by Creative Lab Amsterdam, and our Into The Wild print is a vibrant ode to the outdoors, mixing a range of tropical plants with animals of the wild. It can inject life to any space.


If subtle is more your style, then we also have on hand some breathtaking Japanese botanical wallpapers featuring delicate illustrations of cherry blossoms and bamboo branches that can soften any space.


Another alternative to wallpaper are the botanical wall charts and linen wall hangings of different sizes that evoke images of nature simply and with elegance. The Kyoto chart printed on linen, for example, or the hanging chart printed on cotton and characterised by an urban jungle print are beautiful ways of adding Biophilia to any space.


5 more ways to get it done

Not every space can be designed to incorporate all the principles of Biophilic design, but there are often many contributory elements that will collectively enhance the interior and the well being of those within it. It’s more than just the addition of a potted plant or two. Natural light, vegetation, living walls, natural textures and materials and nature views will provide a positive impact.


Here are five more tips and tricks to help you easily bring in Biophilic strategies to your interior environment, whether at home or at work.


1. Begin by simply opening up your curtains or blinds. Allow the light in. Consider light fabrics like linen or simple white cotton mixed with textured bamboo blinds.

2. Buy a plant (or two or three). Consider peace lilies, snake plants or orchids. Place them in beautiful planters

3. Decorate with images of nature. This beautiful landscape of a sunset is tiny, but packs a punch.

4. Bring your garden indoors. Pick a corner and pretend it’s your own secret garden. Decorate with botanical or jungle wallpaper, hang a hand-knotted Bohemian hammock, include fresh greenery placed on a faux printed tree trunk, and let it be your escape.

5. Even your dining table can benefit from Biophilic design. Serve food on hand painted porcelain decorated with a jungle motif or simple ferns, perfect for both indoor and al fresco dining.



Author: Hala Khalaf


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