Biophilic design

The term Biophilia was first used by the psychologist, Erica Fromm to explain ‘love of life and all that is alive’.

In 1984 Edward Wilson wrote the novel ‘Biophilia’ exploring the human connection to the natural environment. Now we have Biophilic Design which is nature inspired design in interiors, architecture and even whole cities to produce a positive impact on people’s health and wellbeing.

We have an increasing need to find ways to connect with nature at a time when it is estimated we spend 90% of out time in buildings and by 2030 it is estimated that 60% of the world’s population will live in an urban environment.  Research has shown that being in a natural environment or viewing scenes of nature can create feelings of calm, balance and creativity and lessen negative emotions such as anxiety and depression.

On an urban scale there is increasing attention focused on creating biophilic cities to enable their occupants to have happy, productive and meaningful lives. One such amazing example is the island city of Singapore, which has rebranded itself as a ‘city in a garden’. This stunning island city has created an impressive network of trails, parks and green spaces that connect to one another allowing its inhabitants to bike, walk and jog between various green spaces. To bring the outdoors indoors in high rise apartments, office buildings and hotels green plant roofs and indoor hanging gardens are in abundance. 

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Many architects and interior designers are increasingly adopting Bioliphic Design principles. At Brighton based Oliver Heath Design they focus on Biophilic Design to improve the many spaces where people live and work.They put their attention on ‘improving natural light, improving views on to nature, incorporating natural materials, textures and patterns, ventilating spaces and creating restorative spaces.’ Below is a great example of how Oliver Heath Design have created a workspace filled with natural light, wood and nature inspired flooring to connect so well with the immediate outside environment.   

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Tom Raffield incorporates biophilic ideas into the beautiful furniture and lighting he produces from natural wood. He says he gets inspiration from natural formations and shapes like a ‘piece of seaweed or an angle of a tree growing in the wild’ He loves the idea of bringing nature inside ‘and reaping the health and wellness of doing so’. He aims to create a sense of tranquillity from the unique steam bent natural wood products he makes.

Below are images of some of the rooms in his own home which show off his love of biophilic design.

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On a lesser scale we can begin to reconnect with nature in our own homes in various ways.We can position furniture closer to windows to make the most of views onto trees and scenery, get rid of curtains to bring more light into the home and open windows. Adding natural wood furniture and accessories and painting walls and adding fabrics in the colours of nature are also good ways to bring the outdoors in.  Playing recordings of running water and birdsongs also helps us feel more at one with the natural environment.  And of course plants, plants, and more plants.

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