As seen in recent Elle Décor article: “trends that are in and out in 2019”, the term “Biophilia” is becoming increasingly popular within the lifestyle and home design scene.
Meaning “love of life or living systems,” it is a term made known by American psychologist Edward O Wilson, who in the 1980’s observed how increasing rates of urbanisation were leading to a disconnection with the natural world. With such high rates of urban development, as humans we are living in more built-up settings than ever before. It could be said that biophilia is of increasing importance to our health and well-being in this expanding metropolitan environment.
The human preference towards nature
Since today’s “natural habitat” is largely urban, the biophilic design seeks to satisfy our need to affiliate with the natural world in modern buildings. Human preferences toward things in nature, while refined through experience and culture, are by theory the product of biological evolution. For example, adult mammals (humans) are generally attracted to baby mammal faces and find them appealing across species. The large eyes and small features of any young mammal face are far more appealing than those of the mature adults. Similarly, this helps explain why ordinary people care for and sometimes risk their lives to save both pets and wild animals, and keep plants and flowers in and around their homes. Often, flowers indicate the potential for food later, which could also be a biological explanation for the humans love for them. Most fruits start their development as flowers, and for our ancestors, it was crucial to spot, detect and remember the plants that would later provide nutrition.
The benefits of biophilic design
Many online sources will explain the benefits of biophilic design. In architecture, biophilia is a sustainable design strategy that demonstrates reconnecting people with the natural world. The interior design considers factors such as light, vegetation, air quality, imagery, forms, materials and colour. Incorporating these direct or indirect elements of nature into the built environment have been demonstrated through research to reduce stress, blood pressure and heart rates, whilst increasing creativity, productivity and well-being.
How to achieve biophilic design
Easy ways to accomplish the effect is by incorporating large potted plants into the floor plan, and smaller potted plants atop desks, bookshelves and cabinets. True biophilic design goes beyond this, for emulating the outdoors a designer might think about displaying plants and flowers of different heights throughout the space, some clustered together to mimic the way plants appear in outside. Hanging plants have started to become very popular, with many home décor brands selling hanging pots of all different sizes. This can also help to add varying heights. As well as live plants, design features can include nature-inspired art and photography, use of natural light and shade and even subtle sounds and scents (think candles with natural aromas) can bring the effect home.
Another tip would be to research different plants and flowers that can thrive in an indoor environment. For example, Peace Lilies purify the air, making them a great addition to places where the focus is needed, such as workplaces and schools. They break down and neutralise toxic gases like formaldehyde (occurs in glues, paints and some fabric), benzene (found in solvents), and carbon monoxide.