Biophilic Design and Wellness: An Introduction

If you’ve never heard the term “biophilic design,” you’re not alone. But while its name isn’t commonplace knowledge for everyone, its effects and benefits certainly are. This week, we’re introducing you to the concept on a broad level, and in future posts, we’ll take a deeper look at each element and why it is so critical to creating a space that promotes both health and sensory exploration.

If you’ve ever felt a pull or connection to nature – to heal, explore, or relax – then you’ve experienced the idea behind biophilic design directly.

 
  In this kitchen design, biophilic elements are widely present with unobstructed views of nature and potted plants indoors. / Design by    Vela Creative   , Photo by Spacecrafting

In this kitchen design, biophilic elements are widely present with unobstructed views of nature and potted plants indoors. / Design by Vela Creative, Photo by Spacecrafting

 

At its core, biophilic design is designing for people as biological organisms, respecting the mind-body systems as indicators of health and well-being in the context of what is locally appropriate and responsive. It has roots in a concept known as “biophilia,” which, according to E.O. Wilson, is “a concept that humans have an innate desire to connect with nature and natural systems, [and] that we are genetically predisposed to prefer nature and natural scenery.”

While this is an important concept, it’s even more timely when considering how the appeal of nature strengthens as more people choose to live in populated urban environments. Where there is a lack of an abundance of nature, we must work to create it in our spaces in order to access its innate benefits.

 
  A hidden bar opens up onto an indoor atrium that has intentionally-placed obscured indoor views with a highly textured brick wall. In this space, there is even room for a koi pond, though it is not currently in use. Because this home has many windows and skylights, cloud movements affect the room lighting, changing throughout the day and creating varying light patterns in the process. / Design by    Vela Creative   , Photo by Spacecrafting

A hidden bar opens up onto an indoor atrium that has intentionally-placed obscured indoor views with a highly textured brick wall. In this space, there is even room for a koi pond, though it is not currently in use. Because this home has many windows and skylights, cloud movements affect the room lighting, changing throughout the day and creating varying light patterns in the process. / Design by Vela Creative, Photo by Spacecrafting

 

 Designing with this in mind, we incorporate biophilic elements into our work using interior materials and forms that evoke nature in a space and give an aesthetic that doesn’t copy nature, but rather, reflects it indoors.  

The result is inspirational, restorative, healthy, and integrative. In fact, research has shown that biophilic design impacts cognitive functionality and performance, psychological health and well-being, and physiological health and well-being. These health benefits occur when perceived geometries remind us of natural forms and our surroundings remind us of living structures. In a sense, our bodies feel as if these spaces are alive, giving us a dose of invigoration. With results like that, it’s no wonder why we love to use it in our work.

  In this kitchen, potted herbs both offer easy access for cooking and provide natural smells that bring the concept of biophilic design to life. / Design by    Coco Lapine

In this kitchen, potted herbs both offer easy access for cooking and provide natural smells that bring the concept of biophilic design to life. / Design by Coco Lapine

So, as we dive deeper into this series, remember that living with biophilia in mind is about more than following current trends or choosing an eye-popping color. It’s about using our environments to access a higher level of function and fulfillment and experiencing wellness within our personal spaces.

With biophilic design, life is truly about living. And that is certainly an ideal worth pursuing.

 

By Megan Johansson, Contributor to Vela Creative

Megan Johansson