On an interior design level, this elevated environmental consciousness is expressed in a trend for sustainability. With this has come a blurring of the boundary between outside and inside. Most notably, through the trend for biophilic design.
Biophilic design is based on what is known as the biophilia hypothesis: “[the] idea that humans possess an innate tendency to seek connections with nature and other forms of life.” ( Encyclopædia Britannica, ‘Biophilia Hypothesis’)
As is always the case with Mother Nature, there is reason behind this ‘innate tendency’. Research has in fact indicated that spending time in nature is beneficial for human health. Among adults, spending time in natural environments is associated with improved mental and spiritual health; for children, being out in nature has been found to encourage physical activity and play.
In light of the amount of time we are now spending indoors, biophilic design harnesses the benefits of being in and around nature to create more healthful indoor environments. It is said to ‘bring the outdoors, indoors’ by designing plants and greenery into the built environment, along with other natural elements.
Whilst the quality of care delivered remains first and foremost, biophilic design can play an important role in how that care is received.
When applied to a healthcare setting, this design concept has been shown to have a particularly supportive effect. Incorporating the natural environment into the design of a hospital or other healthcare facility is believed to benefit the patient recovery experience.
As well as the addition of indoor plants and greenery to a space, architectonic features and even flooring, fittings and design accessories can all play on this biophilic notion. The use of natural materials such as wood, access to ample natural light and views out onto gardens all help create a sense of being at one with nature and the wider world.
Where circumstances do not obviously lend themselves to the inclusion of natural features, designers are challenged to think creatively, outside of the box, for solutions: A rigorous cleaning regime, for example, may limit materials choices, or an inner-city location may exclude the possibility for green views. Although arguably not the same as a window with direct views of meadows, carefully curated art depicting natural scenery can still evoke a similar sense of calm. Just as wood-effect flooring can closely mimic the real thing.