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What Is Biophilic Design?

Meet the design style rooted in your wellbeing

Linda Holmes By Linda HolmesInteriors Director

“It is becoming increasingly clear that biophilic elements have real, measurable benefits," explains Stephen R. Kellert of Yale University, like "productivity, emotional well-being, stress reduction, learning and healing."

For scientists and the green-fingered among us, vegetation has long been associated with a general improvement in health, especially air purifying plants that are commonly understood to be the best plants for indoors. And whilst COVID might have increased the average indoor plant count to little short of a commercial nursery, there are so many other tree-lined, sun-dappled avenues to explore.

For more inspiration 

Biophilic interior design will reignite our connection with the natural world from the comfort of our own homes. Here, the experts reveal more about the rising trend, explaining that biophilic materials are, how to create a biophilic space and why we all need a little bit more green in our lives. 

Biophilic design | LuxDeco.com Style Guide

Image Credit: Natalia Miyar

How does biophilic design affect us?


Diane James

"Numerous studies have shown that spending time outdoors in nature is not only good for our physical health, it's good for our emotional and mental health as well. Bringing nature indoors has the same effect and can help reduce stress, boost productivity and create an overall sense of well-being. This is even more important these days as we spend so much time indoors with technology."

Diane Hill

"Biophilic design is so important because we as humans need to feel connected to nature, it brings us peace and tranquillity. Bringing lush greenery to our interiors makes us feel more calm and cosy as the organic shapes and trails act as a contrast to the built environment. It's no wonder so many of the patterns within our interior decoration are inspired by nature."

CetraRuddy

"Biophilic design is about bringing elements of the natural world into the built environment and reconnecting people to nature in their everyday lives. There are numerous emotional and physical health benefits associated with biophilic design and biophilic architecture,  ranging from better indoor air quality to improved mood and focus and reduced stress and cortisol levels. These are all scientifically proven positive impacts that result from biophilic design, and something that we apply to all of our work across typologies, from urban residential towers to mixed-use academic buildings."

Shalini Misra

"Biophilic design aims to improve wellbeing creating a stronger connection between individuals and nature. People have an innate need to connect with nature and its benefits on mental and physical health are well documented. The natural world impacts human life in fundamental ways – it reduces stress, helps to balance emotions, encourages physically activity, invigorates and restores. Biophilic design aims to do similar things within the built environment and in turn affects us in the same manner."

Biophilic Design| LuxDeco.com Style Guide

Image Credit: Natalia Miyar

What does luxury biophilic design look like?


Diane James

"Biophilic design takes elements from the outdoors and creates environments where occupants come in direct contact with nature. This human-nature connection creates the sense of well-being that biophilic design is known to promote."

"Biophilic design connects to most of our senses—sight, smell, hearing and touch. For instance, a home that is built among trees would have large windows to capture the green landscape outside. It may also have an indoor fountain to bring in the calming sound of water into a space. Fresh flowers and plants add visual interest but also can bring in the scent of a garden. And natural textures such as wood, fibres and stone beckon to be touched. All of these create a multi-sensory experience, much like what we find in nature."

Diane Hill

"Biophilic design is when man-made meets nature. It's a beautiful combination of the natural world and the built world."

CetraRuddy

"Biophilic design can take many forms and can range in scale from overall building planning principles to specific interior design specifications. Some of the core elements include access to natural daylight and views, clear visual and physical connections between indoor and outdoor spaces, the use of colour and natural materials, and the incorporation of greenery and plant life. We have found a lot of value and proven occupant wellbeing by incorporating gardens into our projects."

Shalini Misra

"Studies have shown that incorporating natural materials into the built environment can decrease stress, so one element of biophilic design incorporates natural materials for furniture and fabrics such as timber, cotton, linen, cane and bamboo. Organic shapes that mimic nature are often used to create a feeling of ease and natural connection to a building or space.

 Biophilic design often looks to connect a building with its surrounding outdoor environment, so one may see relationships draw between what is beyond a building’s walls and what is housed within.

 The flow of air and light is a vital element of biophilic design so spacial planning tends to focus on making the best and most natural use of these two elements for the promotion of wellbeing. Courtyards, large windows, glass doors and attention to the views that can be seen from seated areas and working spaces are all taken into account.

Replication and the outside world is also important, so plant life and living structures come into play."

Biophilic Design | LuxDeco.com Style Guide

Image Credit: Natalia Miyar

What are the essentials of biophilic interior design?


Diane James

"There are three key elements of biophilic design. Flowers and plants add an inherent natural beauty to a space and allow it to feel "lived in". They are also proven to purify the air, plants increase your mood, productivity and focus. Large windows bring in essential daylight and imitate the outdoors inside. Natural textures such as wood and stone create tactile interest and flowing shapes soften hard, aggressive edges."

Diane Hill

"The essentials for a biophilic interior are plants! Start with a small selection and grow new plants using cuttings from your existing ones. I suggest going for hardy plants that are super easy to maintain, they will be with you for years to come and there is nothing like watching a plant thrive in your home! As an artist, I also love to be surrounded by nature in a more stylistic form. I paint Chinoiserie wall murals and wallpaper. This type of mural features an array of trees, birds and butterflies all connected in beautiful harmony. I use bright uplifting colours which makes me feel completely immersed in the most beautiful world of fantasy and nature."

CetraRuddy

"A biophilic interior must offer ample natural daylight and exterior views. A benefit of prioritising natural light is that it reduces the need for artificial illumination, lowering energy costs and enhancing sustainability while also synching with our natural circadian rhythms. Incorporating natural light into spaces, such as corridors or hallways, further enhances biophilic principles.

Materials also have an impact on wellbeing, and are an important aspect of biophilic design. Focus on using authentic and natural materials that offer a palpable feeling of connection to the natural world. For example, wood and natural stone in kitchens and bathrooms; we like to use cork or natural fibres for flooring and wallcoverings, and even living walls in larger spaces."

Shalini Misra

"Natural materials and textures, organic shapes, light and air flow and the inclusion of plant life are key elements. Where possible, the inclusion of a connecting outdoor space should be sought."

Biophilic Design | LuxDeco.com Style Guide

Image Credit: Natalia Miyar

Header image credit: Diane James