Biophilia: “Love of life or living systems,” and the positive human response toward nature.
Imagine entering a room to the sight of vivid flowers and the scent of green herbs. You hear the happy melody of songbirds, feel the warmth of a crackling fire, and are soothed by the sound of flowing water.
Whether it is indoors or outdoors, having such a sanctuary creates and maintains positive mental, emotional and physical health. Simply put, when we are connected to the natural world, we feel good. It is in our biology.
I use the theory of biophilic design to create “feel good” spaces. Based on the research of biologist Edward Wilson, biophilic design connects people to nature in their living spaces. Its principles are proven to promote mental alertness, reduce anxiety, and create a sense of calm while lowering heart rate and blood pressure.
You can easily add beneficial visual connections to nature in your own home. Some examples would be the use of plants including green walls or an herb garden, artwork of nature scenes, or the flow of water. Any of these elements add to the feeling of returning to a sanctuary after a busy day in the world.
Here are just a few ways to apply biophilic design principles within your own sanctuary.
Use Organic Forms and Patterns
Organic forms are captivating and comforting shapes which occur in nature, and they are also available in fabrics, carpeting, wallcoverings, sculptures and furniture details. Think of the winding flow of a river or the graceful curvature of an egg, although organic forms do not need to be literal representations. Together organic forms and geometric shapes help to create balance – but take care to avoid overusing them.
Choose Natural Materials
Natural materials have greater restorative qualities than synthetic ones, as they create a calming effect with their richness, authenticity, and stimulating textures. Choose natural materials such as wood, stone, fossil, cork and bamboo for surfaces, flooring, and furniture. Accent rooms with these materials through accessories and artwork.
Good lighting is imperative for a comfortable and inviting space. The patterns created by sunlight and moonlight can evoke drama or instill peacefulness. If your home does not have very much natural light, consider adding fixtures and light bulbs with different intensities and color temperatures. Candles and fireplaces can also add a very soothing ambiance. Other options include ambient lighting diffused on the wall, accent lighting, and dimming controls which can all achieve a greater level of comfort.
Create Cave-Like Spaces
People feel safer when they are protected by a structure behind them or overhead, much like sitting in a wingback chair or a bay window seat. Create small spaces within larger ones by adding nooks with overhead trellises or lowered ceilings, or consider adding recessed seating to offer a sense of protection. Elements such as these can reduce boredom, irritation and fatigue, especially when their lighting is dimmer than that of the greater space surrounding them.
Install a Water Feature
Adding a water feature to a room helps to reduce stress, stimulate and improve memory, and nurture concentration. Consider constructing a water wall, fountain, or aquarium, but make certain the water remains clean and unpolluted. The imagery of water portrayed in art or the mere suggestion of water in a wallcovering can work just as well.
Add Nonrhythmic Stimuli
Nature is always moving, growing, and adapting, yet many interiors feel static and predictable; the air is stagnant, and we may hear the same continual sounds such as the ticking of a clock. Introduce nonrhythmic stimuli such as nature sounds, mechanically delivered breezes, and scents to bring a sense of movement into your space and help you feel just as you would when immersed in nature.
Julie Ann Segal, interior designer and president of Metro Interiors, is renowned for her deep commitment to providing clients with state-of-the-art design. Always on the cutting edge, Julie Ann’s dynamic approach utilizes all resources within reach. You can sign up for monthly design tips or an affordable virtual consultation on Julie Ann’s website at metrointeriors.com. To schedule a design consultation or inquire about services, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (952) 920-2827.
By Julie Ann Segal of Metro Interiors