In the last few years, the word “biophilic” has gained popular praise within the Design and Lifestyle communities. “Biophilia” (which literally means “Lover of Nature”) has transcended from a mere Merriam-Webster archetype, into a conscious attempt to bring nature into urbanized living spaces.
Why is this important? For one, there are major studies that have shown that adding natural elements like plants, animals, and geometric shapes into our homes can add a stress-free component to our little furnished boxes. And secondly, it subconsciously reminds us that we are still very much a part of the natural world and that we still have that precious connection with nature.
So experiencing nature on an everyday basis allows us to reconnect with the most fundamental aspects of our human existence. In short, incorporating biophilic design references within your home is a transformative process that can truly affect the ‘inner you’ and your mental health.
Now, if this concept seems foreign or just downright daunting, don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. First and foremost, this process should be purposeful and free-flowing. If you go into this thinking that random plants and artwork are going to bring you peace and abundance, think again.
Adapting to a biophilic environment should come from a place of cognitive evolution, in tandem with the therapeutic aspects of nature. Each piece you choose should have an intrinsic purpose within your home that you deeply connect with.
So to get started, we have put together an extensive list of items and methods that can help you incorporate natural elements into your urbanized living space!
Instead of staring at a blank brick wall, why not stare at something more magical. The concept of what’s called a “Biosphere” (to which terrariums are modeled after) revolves around a closed ecosystem that, if created properly, is a self-regenerative system that needs little to no upkeep. These gentle pieces of art can span from small, cup-sized systems, all the way up to monumental spaces such as Seattle’s Amazon Spheres. In addition to size, you can fill these bad boys up with a multitude of natural materials and elements from sand to soil, cacti to succulent- or an interesting combination of whatever tickles your fancy.
Similar to owning a terrarium, bringing a few freshwater fish into your home is another biophilic design option that adds peace to the atmosphere. An aquarium will not only add to the decor, but it will also grant you the opportunity to take some occasional time to yourself when caring for them. If you live in a cozy apartment or shared living space, a 15-gallon tank might be a good place to start.
One of the greatest things about nature is that there are a few different stimuli that help us relax embedded in every single element. While the best experience with a fireplace is the ability to feel its generous warmth, the mere bliss of hearing the crackle of wood or staring into its candescent oranges and red are intimate thrills of their own. If you don’t have the luxury of owning an actual fireplace, there’s a number of artificial options that will blow you away.
4. Indoor grass
Waking up from a fulfilling sleep and having the option to step onto grass textured carpet is by far one of the coolest things ever. It has been said that we should spend a nominal amount of time with our bare feet on the earth, and while this, technically, isn’t a substitute for grounding yourself to the earth, it’s definitely a very relaxing experience. Not to mention, it’s always exhilarating when you introduce your feet to a variety of different surfaces and textures throughout the day.
5. Dried Flowers
Dried flowers are an easy and inexpensive way to add a vivid textural component to mundane spaces. In a way, dried flowers can be seen as a snapshot of nature’s essence and allow us to enjoy the presence of their greatness for longer periods of time. From the ever-giving chrysanthemum to the delicious ripe mango, the process of drying out living natural materials is an artful way of preserving its natural substance and is another explorable option to add to your biophilic collection.
6. Living Plants
Of course, the quintessential (and most obvious) part of today’s lesson has been around for millennia. Living Plants will add an immense amount of benefits to your ecosystem and state of mind. Plants, in general, will raise the energy of our urbanized living spaces with their colorful dispositions and asymmetrical displays. Watching them grow in an ever-so-gentle way should remind us that we need to be mindful of how we show up in this world. Living plants grow towards their energy source, so why shouldn’t we?
An unpopular opinion but, the cactus plant should hold a dear place in every one of our lives. It teaches us that even in the barest and dry portions of our journey, we can still remain fierce and untouchable. Cacti also teaches us that everything we need to survive is already within us. So, in order for us to protect the nourishing parts of our inner greatness, sometimes we have to develop a protective outer layer that redirects any oncoming dangers. Learning to stand strong when the ‘heat of the world’ is right above your head is a quality that is not easily acquired.
8. Reduce Visual Clutter
When we look into the realms of nature, everything seems so peacefully placed. From vast flatlands to roaring rivers, nature has a way of beautifying the most chaotic scenes by simply using the vastness of its existence. Like kayaking down a calm river, by decluttering our homes we can recreate the serenity of the great outdoors by allowing an ease of motion around our living quarters, which promotes a healthy and inviting environment for us to cherish.
9. Wooden Surfaces
Doesn’t matter if they are untreated or petrified, having wooden tables and accents will almost immediately add power to your home’s decor. Now let’s stop for a second. With wooden surfaces, there is such a variety to choose from that it allows you to be creative about which one(s) will work well for you. So before diving into the world of wood furniture, please do yourself a favor and research. Most importantly, having quality wooden tables and countertops will do you a greater service than any plastic or polymer brands you can find, and plus, it’ll last longer.
10. More Natural Light
Sure artificial lighting is okay, the simple act of allowing more natural light into your home can have an immense effect on your mind, body, and soul. When natural light hits the receptors in your eyes, it blesses us with an infinite amount of biological (and spiritual) information. Having more light shine through our windows and roofs helps to eliminate stagnation both on a physical and therapeutic level, while also offering us its caressing warmth and illuminating presence all throughout the year.
What used to be considered a panda’s best friend, has now become our home’s best friend as well. We should actually treat bamboo like family in regards to the versatility it commands around the world. From the living stalks of bamboo, down to the soft fabrics derived from careful synthesis, bamboo is another phenomenal piece of the ancient world that can radiate deep in our psyche. We won’t go too far into the mystical properties that bamboo is associated with, but just know, you will also have a friend around when bamboo is present.
12. Marble or Granite
Deep in the belly of the earth is where a variety of amazing stones are born. Throughout hundreds of thousands of years, magma and rock have had a symbiotic relationship with each other. The beauty of having marble and/or granite texture and fixtures is as graceful as it is costly – but that doesn’t make it impossible! Marble can remind you that slow-and-steady is present within nature, in conjunction with its fast and momentous mechanisms. Quite frankly, the excellent shine and finish of marble and granite will definitely add another level of sophistication to your home.
They are just so tiny and cute! If there ever was a vote for ‘puppy of the plant world’, consider succulents a top contender. Succulents take very minimal effort in terms of up-keep and maintenance, and the fact they are so space-neutral makes this biophilic design option quite the rave. However, it’s probably best you begin your succulent obsession after you have journeyed through some of the other options, as succulents tend to accentuate, not activate.
14. Taxidermy Animals
Would you believe that there is a way around this sensitive topic, embedded right into the crux of biophilia? Granted, what may be appropriate for some may be frowned upon by others in regards to taxidermy, but from a biophilic design approach, both the real and the imitation are appropriate. If you’re into animal elements inhabiting your humble abode, and a moose head doesn’t fit your style, there are plenty of sculpted pieces in the art and design world. Go out and support the culture!
15. Egyptian Cotton
One of our most essential pastimes starts with an “S” and ends with a “P”. You guessed it, “sleep!”. And if you’re going to get any of it, why not treat yourself to some non-synthetic, anti-polyester goodness? By simply switching out your nighties, blankets, and pillow covers for premium cuts of naturally threaded fibers is definitely another score for your mental and physical health.
16. Geometric Patterns
Now, before you start thinking about right angles, and isosceles triangles, let us explain. Since the years of Pythagoras, people have known about the hidden truths of geometrical patterns, and their relationship with the metaphysical. The term “Sacred Geometry” refers partly to the influences that symmetrical forms can have on the mind and subconscious. If you look deeper into the Vedic and Hindu cultures, it wouldn’t take long for you to notice their attention to detail in regards to natural patterns, natural shapes, and colors. Speaking of geometry, we all live in cubes… strange.
17. Floor/Area Rugs
Almost as serious of a topic as taxidermy, floor rugs can be used in a multitude of ways to strengthen your biophilic atmosphere. Besides giving you a perfect place to collapse after those really strenuous days, area rugs also remind us to keep our homes clean and dust-free. The trend of display rugs on walls has also become an ever-growing sensation for the past few decades, and for great reason. If you pay a high price for a quality rug, you might also think twice about someone stepping on it! If rugs aren’t your thing, how about investing in some of the best biophilic wall art? Your call!
First crafted by men of the sea, macrame is a hitching technique used to make elaborate and ornamental patterns with ropes. When done correctly, macrame can add a unique aesthetic to your urbanized living space. Perhaps adding it with your brand new terrarium might be a nice touch, or maybe a few macrame coasters for those new wood tables might do the trick!
Add a sweet or piney scent to your home with a robust bowl of dried plant matter, and never worry about a stale-smelling room again. You know natural biology has done a good job when modern-day science tries its best to replicate it. So walk right by all of the aerosol and plug-in artificial scents, and get acquainted with a more organic way to please your senses.
While potpourri is a subtle way to freshen up our homes, candles are the huge artillery when it comes to the war on odors. However, on a spiritual level, candles represent the ever-burning spark of life that gently exists for the sake of existing. Outside of the vast variety of lemon cake or crème brûlée scents, candles can be used in almost any setting you can think of. If you’re coming home from a long day of work, or just waking up to begin your routine, lighting up a candle will help you find balance and harmony every time.