Design trends come and go, often as a reflection of the country’s zeitgeist. So, it’s really not too surprising the events of 2020 and 2021 have driven design trends towards a connection with nature. So much so, there’s a label for this type of architectural and decorating style. Biophilic design is the primary design trend for 2022.
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What is biophilic design?
At its core, biophilic design connects inhabitants with nature. It not only emphasizes natural elements such as cross-ventilation and natural lighting, but also places a focus on creating a healthy and productive space. That’s something we all seem to crave as the work-from-home trend extends.
The prefix bio- means life, making it clear why the movement involves a lot of plants and other greenery. This would be both inside the space and within views out windows and doors. In addition to vegetation, other natural materials such as branches and water are introduced.
Origins of biophilic design
Stephen Kellert, professor of social ecology at Yale, is credited with the early foundations for the design style. He developed a guiding set of principles aimed at bringing outdoor experiences into the home environment.
If you’re at the construction (or remodeling) stage, the best way to develop the design is to invite in natural light at every possible avenue through skylights, big windows and glass doors.
If a remodel isn’t on the docket, incorporate surfaces that reflect light, such as glass tables and large mirrors. For interior lighting, use natural and energy-efficient bulbs and give yourself options with teardrop, can and chandelier lighting. Provide additional task lighting with under-cabinet lights, floor lamps and table lamps.
Think about how light moves through your space from morning to night and how you use the space. Place your desk or couch near a window. Put a dining table where it will receive evening sun.
Nature has acted as a template for interior design since the time the term was phrased. Color holds a lot of power in setting the tone of a space. When leaning into biophilic interior design, keep the color palette subtle and natural. Think creams and beiges. Also look at soothing shades of blue and green. These colors can create a backdrop as paint or fill the interior on furniture, curtains, carpets and throw pillows.
Fresh air creates an invigorating reaction. It flushes out stale air in the space and brings an instant connection with the outdoors. With this in mind, rely on open doors and windows with screens. Cross-ventilation allows air to tunnel through the space without relying on the central HVAC system. If you don’t have a natural air source, use a ceiling fan instead. Consider airflow options when placing your furniture.
Bringing living bits of nature into your space sets the tone for a connection with the natural world. Plus, since plants naturally filter the air, they provide a healthier environment. Research has also shown caring for plants reduces stress.
Look to every level when displaying plants. Use ceiling hooks to hang plants, mantles, window sills, half-walls and multi-tiered plants stands.
Few natural elements elicit a response quite like flowing water. You can achieve this benefit through a tabletop or wall fountain. Large or small, the movement of water is calming and naturally connects to the other elements of water and air.
The addition of a wood or gas-burning stove or fireplace brings another natural element into the mix. The crackle of the wood, the smell and the look of flames climbing upwards all trigger memories of camping, childhood summer camp and backyard gatherings.
Keep edges soft
Look to Mother Nature when selecting furniture and décor pieces. She doesn’t have sharp edges. Instead of rectangular, square or other rigid shapes, choose curved and rounded pieces instead. Curved couches, round tables, circular lamp shades and carpets all bring softness to the space.
Texture and balance
Every decision you make in your biophilic design has the potential to add to or detract from the cohesion of the look. To achieve balance in the space, make sure all elements are working together. For example, bulky curtains can block out natural light so consider a transparent and flowing fabric instead.
Rely on natural materials throughout the space for an immersive dive into a connection with the planet. Jute, wood, cotton, bamboo, natural yarn, stone and wool all bring the look. Although a calm vibe is the goal, it doesn’t mean your space has to be a blank slate of off-white, smooth surfaces. Use texture to bring depth in throw pillows, window covering, upholstery fabric or rugs. Too much and the space will feel overly busy. Too little and it can feel cold and sanitary. Go for a blend with small accents instead.
As a form of indirect biophilic elements, gather up framed or canvas art that highlights natural aspects of fire, water, air, mountains, oceans, rivers, trees, plants and animals too.
Images via Unsplash