BIOPHILIA. Is this really a NEW trend in interior design?

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In a time when stress is the health epidemic of 21st century according to WHO, biophilia becomes the latest and hippest trend in interior design.

Wait. What? Bio…who?

Biophilia is the “innate human emotional connection to nature” as Janice Goodman from Cityscapes calls it, or “love of nature” if we put it plain and simple.

It refers to our human need to be surrounded by natural elements. And, since we spend 90% of our time indoors, we miss that connection with nature in our daily living. Studies have shown that plants have a calming and restorative effect and in fact lower the heartbeat rate by 3.9-6%.

So why is this a NEW trend? After all, humans have always been in contact with nature and sought to bring nature indoors since indoor exists. My grandmother had an entire jungle in her living-room and so did my mum and all my aunts. Why is biophilic design a trend now and why wasn’t it so 50 years ago?

Well, first because we like to put fancy names on old things to feel that they are new again. This is why we like to call an old piece of clothing or furniture vintage instead of second-hand. It just fits our image better. Therefore, biophilists are the new nature lovers.

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The second reason though, and the one I meant to talk about, is that we are more aware of this need now. It is a natural reaction to our recent actions. We live our lives on fast-forward: long working hours, high performance in everything we do, over-consumption of pretty much anything and lack of care for our environment. This generation is about re-balancing. We learned that we need to slow down and smell the roses. Also, mental health disorders are now more publicly discussed and accepted and, accordingly, people are more interested in their overall well-being and the importance of living in a healthy environment.

It is a fact that people are willing to spend more money on travels to relaxing beaches, explore national parks, jungles and exotic places or buy houses with the best view of nature. According to “The Economics of Biophilia” (a report by Therapin), we are willing to spend 7% more on homes with excellent landscaping, 58% more on properties with view of water, and 127% more for a lakefront property. 

And there is more.

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Plants are not only calming but are also excellent acoustic absorbents; an inexpensive alternative to acoustic paneling in your office. Their color green is associated with creativity and adding them in our work environment increases productivity and innovative ideas.

But is it just plants?

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No. It is natural materials such as wood furniture, wool rugs, leather, stone, bamboo, seashells. It is water (think of water features and aquariums), natural light sources (big windows) and warm natural colors: green, blue, yellow, orange, etc. Pretty much everything you can find outdoors in natural state with minimum of tampering.

Bottom line, biophilic design is not about the objects and elements in an interior, it is about how you experience that space, its flow, the transition between spaces or from outside-in, the comfort of mobility and the overall sense of place and belonging to that space.

 Now… off I go to design my vertical garden. I heard it’s therapeutic.