Key Principles of Biophilic Design in Interiors & Architecture

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What is biophilic design?

Biophilic design aims to incorporate design elements with a likeness to nature in architecture and interiors in order to maintain evolution’s connection between us and Mother Nature, whilst also doing her no harm in the design process.

Direct vs Indirect Biophilia

The key principles behind this concept fall into two main categories: ‘direct’ and ‘indirect’ biophilia, meaning users can experience the mental and physical health benefits of biophilic design through experiencing live forms of nature and representations of nature.

A Biophilic Approach

A well executed biophilic design will not only increase the health and wellness of users but also aims to protect and preserve nature’s finite resources. The two concepts, People and Planet, go hand in hand. One cannot be separated from the other in a biophilic context.

This can be accomplished by making conscious building material and decor choices, as well as leveraging the natural landscape—building around what is already there in other words.

A prime example of this biophilic design approach in action is the Lily Jencks designed Ruins Studio, Scotland. 

Biophilic Color Palettes

Color palettes that mimic nature are the way to go for biophilic design purity and there is plenty of room for creativity here, just think of the colours of tropical fish!

A subdued palette of soft browns, earthy greens, and natural beiges may be one route, while sunshine yellows and sky blues would be another.

A simple way to incorporate this first group of colours is with plants or a living wall for example, while the latter group may require some biophilic wallpapers or wall murals.

Biophilic Design Materials 

A key way that biophilic architecture and interior design harness the potent power and visuals of nature is by utilizing sustainable building material. Common materials used might include FSC wood, bamboo, linen, cork, and ceramic, which all assist in shaping a biophilic design by using natural colors and textures. 

Biophilic Lighting
Biophilic lighting needs to follow your natural Circadian rhythm. This is best done with large windows that allow for ample natural light, but when not possible, the design should opt for a lighting system that uses blue-white tones in the middle of the day, and amber tones early and late.

Experiential Design

Just like actually being outside in a natural environment, biophilic spaces should be immersive experiences with a focus that goes beyond sight and touch, to appeal to sound, scent and even taste as well.

The diffusion of fragrant cedarwood aromatherapy oil combined with a recording of forest nature sounds are just one combination of how that concept can be implemented indoors.

For spaces that have the option to incorporate taste as well, such as cafes, bars and restaurants, then it is all about organic or locally grown produce, preferably used as some form of biophilic display as well!

1 Hotel's offering of farm-to-fork food in their dining room and a daily fresh fruit stand in the lobby is the perfect example of this. They nail it every time.

Using biophilic elements and principles will unlock a design rich in biophilia that is suitable for private residences, gyms, hotels, offices, hospitals and retail stores. Ultimately, biophilic design may hold the key to longevity, as well as happier and healthier living, that’s how we see things anyway so if you’d like to discuss a project where we can help you transform a space using Mother Nature, email us to set-up an initial consultation using the email icon on this page.

Related reads from Biofit & Biofilico:

10 Ways to Add Biophilic Design to Your Home, Office, or Gym

What is Biophilia?

5 Best Examples of Biophilic Design

Air Purifying Plants in Biophilic Interiors