Okay, you don’t have to plant a tree in your living room this year to be trendy! That said, the hot topic of 2022: “biophilic interior design.” Marrying science and design, biophilia is a human-centered, holistic approach to design, based on a simple concept: incorporating more elements of nature in interior environments can yield benefits for our health and well-being.
More than any other trend I’ve seen, this one feels like an antidote to the times we live in. As we all reel from the chaos of the past two years, there is a collective acknowledgment that we must tend to our own physical, mental, and emotional needs. Simultaneously, technological developments have increasingly alienated us from the natural world. We now spend an estimated 80-90% of our time indoors (between home and the workplace), often in urban environments far removed from the soul-quenching influence of nature.
Enter the concept of biophilia — “the idea that humans possess an innate tendency to seek connections with nature,” noted Eric Baldwin in his 2020 article, “Biophilia: Bringing Nature into Interior Design” on the architecture website ArchDaily. He explains how imbuing built spaces with characteristics of the natural world, such as water, greenery, natural light or elements like wood and stone, can have tangible health benefits, including increased cognitive function, creativity and productivity; reduced heart-rate variability, pulse rates and stress; decreased blood pressure; and more.
How can we incorporate this “architecture of life” into our own home design? Here are six simple ways:
- Maximize exposure to natural light. Remove obstructions from windows and move furniture closer to take advantage of light and views of nature. Pull back curtains and blinds to let more light flow in, and clean windows regularly. Bonus: More natural light can help improve your sleep by boosting alertness during the day.
- Go green with plenty of houseplants. Plants naturally purify indoor air while adding beauty and a sense of being outdoors.
- Be more vigilant about materials used in home furnishings. Look for furniture and bedding certified by independent third-party certification programs such as the nonprofit CertiPUR-US® program, which sets rigorous standards for the foam used as cushioning in most mattresses, pillows, sofas and upholstered furniture sold today.
- Incorporate natural design elements. Look for curved and rounded furniture. Choose sustainable materials that have texture and tactile interest, such as wood, plaster, stone, bronze and leather.
- Revisit your color scheme. Choose soft greens, earth tones and landscape and plant motifs that mimic nature.
- Incorporate a water feature. Self-standing and wall fountains offer a multisensory experience that incorporates sound, natural beauty and the potential benefits of negative ionization caused by moving water.
Here’s to health, well-being and feeling good about our homes in 2022!