Biophilic Design: Bringing the Outdoors In


Among the most popular interior design trends this year is a move toward nature-inspired spaces. Of course, our relationship with the natural world is nothing new, but as we all spend more time indoors at work and at home, the need to connect with our environment has only expanded. The principle of biophilic design addresses this innate need, creating spaces that improve our wellbeing by deeply integrating natural elements into our indoor surroundings.

Though you may not have noticed it, you’ve almost certainly seeing biophilic design out in the wild, often in public spaces like doctors’ offices, corporate workplaces, shopping malls, and hotels. In settings that have historically been seen as stressful, dark, or uninviting, incorporating organic design elements can evoke an entirely different feeling. Think about how the soothing sounds of a fountain in a waiting room might change your mood. Or how a large window in your office makes the whole space feel more lively and expansive.

The way we design our indoor environments is directly related to how we feel and function within them. Research shows that feeling a connection to nature can increase our happiness and reduce anxiety. So, why not bring that atmosphere into every part of our lives? Today, we’re seeing a movement toward bringing the outdoors inside not just in public places but at home, too.

To do this, interior designers have a handful of tricks up their sleeves that can transform a space. Here are just a few of most effective biophilic design elements that interior designers rely on:

  • Natural or organic materials
  • Abundant sunlight and windows
  • Plant life or living walls
  • Shapes and forms that mimic the natural environment
  • Water features, like ponds or fountains

So, what does this look like at home? Designers are specifying the use of reclaimed or organic materials like wood and natural stone. Home builders and remodelers are opting for skylights, sunrooms, and flexible indoor-outdoor areas, bringing in natural light and creating open, airy spaces. Rather than just placing a plant on a bookshelf, a room might be designed around a foliage-inspired focal point – think living walls or built-in planters. And soft, organic shapes are frequently replacing more angular lines in favor of a calmer, warmer atmosphere.

Bringing these biophilic design elements into your space can help boost your mood, increase feelings of serenity and calmness, and even encourage productivity. Of course, you can always start small. You might consider adding greenery or florals to a drab room, or refreshing your window coverings to let in more light. And when you’re ready for a larger home remodel, you can opt for materials and plans that introduce a touch of our natural environment into your space.

Bottom line: design impacts every part of our our lives. Finding ways to infuse these natural elements into our everyday experience enhances our overall wellness, improving both our physical and mental health. And who couldn’t use a little more of that?