As the world continues to urbanize, humans are getting disconnected from nature. Nature has always been an integral part of human lives and even our structures. This human instinct is to be drawn towards nature is known as biophilia and a biophilic interior space can reduce stress, improve cognitive function and creativity, improve well-being and help in healing faster. Biophilic design articulates the relationship between nature, it reconnects us with nature and can effectively help in improving our well-being. It is nurturing, calming and inspiring.
Nature in a space does not mean just potted plants, water fountains, etc. It can be in the form of direct, physical, and ephemeral presence and can include plant life, water, and animals along with natural airflow, sounds, scents, views, and other elements. A biophilic interior design uses these elements to create meaningful and direct connections through diversity, movement, and multisensory interactions.
Visual Connection – Stunning views of the outside world offer a visual connection with nature, elements of nature, living systems, and natural processes. Looking onto a pristine, green landscape or even potted plants and flower beds around you can be extremely stimulating and comforting. It can help in refocusing, mood improvement, and boosting creativity and energy. According to research by Brown, Barton, and Gladwell in 2013, viewing nature for ten minutes prior to experiencing a mental stressor has shown to stimulate heart rate variability and parasympathetic activity. Looking at natural vegetation, the natural flow of water, animals, and insects, soil and earth, green wall, koi ponds, etc are a few examples of visual connection with nature.
Natural Light – We’ve always known that different lighting conditions elicit different psychological responses. It welcomes life and sets the mood in a space. A space with good dynamic and diffused light conditions convey expressions of time and movement. Natural light helps in sleeping well and minimizing depression and brings a sense of calm to the setting. Direct sunlight, firelight, moonlight and starlight, diurnal and seasonal lights are some examples of naturally occurring light whereas ambient diffuse lighting, accent lighting, day light preserving window treatments are some examples of simulated lighting. A space incorporating dynamic and diffuse light positively impacts circadian system functioning and increases visual comfort.
Water Presence – Water elements don’t just make for an intriguing presence in a space, but their presence enhances the experience of the space through seeing, hearing and touching it. Reduced stress, increased calmness, lower heart rate and blood pressure are some positive responses elicited by exposure to water features. One water feature in a space is adequate and can help in enhancing mood and providing restoration from cognitive fatigue. River, ocean, stream, pond, access to rainfall and water flows are some examples of naturally occurring water features whereas water wells, artificial waterfalls, aquariums, fountains etc are some examples of simulated water features.
Material Connection – Having regular contact with natural elements that are created through minimal processing and reflect local ecology can create a distinct sense of place. Marble counters, wooden floors, wooden planks on walls, stone walls, the introduction of bamboo, leather cork, and other similar materials can help a space feel rich and warm. Such spaces can be stimulating to touch and can help us in keeping in touch with the natural world while indoors.