By Julie Ann Segal
What does it mean to create spaces that not only look good, but feel good?
Imagine walking into a room and taking in the sight and scent of lush, fragrant herbs and vivid flower blossoms…
Hearing the happy melody of song birds… feeling the warmth of a crackling fire… or soothed by flowing water…
One design concept I use to create “feel good” spaces is Biophilic Design. Based on the research and findings of Biologist Edward Wilson, Biophilic Design connects people to nature in their interiors, which has a positive impact on their health and wellbeing.
Biophilia means “love of life” or “living systems.” Wilson introduced the concept of Biophila as “the urge of humans to affiliate with other forms of life” and that this deep affiliation we have with other life forms and nature is rooted in our biology.
He researched the positive feelings that people have towards natural environments – it’s in our biology to feel good when we walk into spaces that connect us with the natural world.
Have you ever sat on bench by a window with the warm sun streaming in on a cold day? It can feel restorative, like your batteries are being charged, which in turn, improves your mood.
Being surrounded by nature reduces tension and anxiety, and boosts mental performance in a space’s occupants. It’s even been proven to lower heart rate and blood pressure.
The principles of Biophilic Design closely resemble those I use with the application of Feng Shui, to design environments that have a flow, just as you would find in nature. Biophilic Design looks at specific materials and their functions to design a space that connects its inhabitants with nature.
Use organic forms
Organic forms can be captivating, interesting and comforting. As a Feng Shui interior designer, using organic forms and geometric shapes together helps to balance a space. These types of shapes and forms can be found in fabrics, carpet, wall coverings, sculptures and furniture details.
Choose natural materials
Materials such as natural wood, stone, fossil, cork and bamboo help to create the connection to nature. They can be rich, warm and authentic. They have a calming effect on the space, as well as improving one’s creative performance.
Create light patterns
Working with natural light patterns can evoke feelings of drama, or a sense of calm. One way to do this is to create architecture where daylight comes in at angles, or have dappled sunlight filtered in through the windows. Other ways are: working with firelight, moonlight, as well as installing man made light fixtures with dimmer switches to control the light.
Construct smaller spaces within larger ones
A unique way to reduce boredom, irritation and fatigue in spaces is to create smaller spaces within a larger space that are not totally enclosed. Adding nooks, overhead trellises, and booth seating make the occupant feels protected from behind or overhead. These spaces may have dropped ceilings with a varied light color or brightness to make them even more intriguing and appealing.
By paying attention to design details, and making selections that bring nature inside – with form, materials, light and protective spaces, you can bring the concept of Biophilic Design into your space, for better health and wellbeing.