As we wind down at the end of a busy year and anticipate some welcome respite away from work, many of us look forward to relaxing and recharging in nature, whether in the bush, on the beach or in our gardens.
People have an innate connection with the natural world, which is why after a long day at work, we appreciate a quiet moment in our gardens or a quick walk in the park or on the beach. After an even longer year, we yearn for more of it.
This is known as Biophilia. First introduced by biologist Edward O. Wilson in 1984, Biophilia is the theory that humans are born with a love for nature and the living world and are therefore attracted to it and happier when connected with it.
Biophilic design is the concept of using nature both directly and indirectly in architecture and interior design to create living spaces that increase connectivity to the natural world. The benefits include improved creativity, productivity, wellbeing and mood as well as stress reduction.
Throughout history, people have tried to articulate and emulate the energy and beauty of nature; from great artists like Monet, O’Keefe and Rousseau, to great architects like Antoni Gaudi and Fariborz Sahba.
Like these artists and architects, interior designers, through the ages and across all styles, have been inspired by nature. The most successful of whom, work with nature rather than try to copy it.
“By creatively and strategically using colour, pattern, texture, light and natural elements, interior designers can create homes that make us feel happy in the same way nature does,” says Karina Palmer, interior designer and marketing director of AMERICAN shutters.
Here are Karina’s top Biophilic design tips:
When designing or renovating your home include large strategically-placed windows and doors that can be opened to create a through-flow of fresh air. Good ventilation improves the indoor air quality and is an effective way to cool a home in hot summer months.
Georgia O’Keeffe’s Oriental Poppies
Shutters are ideal for ventilation control; by tilting the louvres you can direct the flow of air and you won’t have to deal with billowing curtains or rattling blinds when the breeze blows through.
Exposure to sunlight is thought to increase serotonin, a hormone associated with boosting mood and calming. Allowing natural light to flood your home, therefore, will not only make you happy, but it can also improve your circadian rhythms and sleep patterns by aligning our body clock.
Keep windows clean and unobstructed to allow in the maximum light; choose window finishes such as shutters that can be completely opened during the day and securely closed for privacy when the sun goes down.
Antoni Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia
Whether through a window or from a balcony or patio, looking at nature is the best next thing to being in it. A beautiful view can lower heart rate and stress levels. Design your interior spaces to focus on these beautiful views i.e. frame the window or door for emphasis, position seating for comfortable viewing and include mirrors to reflect the views.
Henri Rousseau’s Exotic Landscape
There is no better window finish than shutters to maximise and frame views.
Wood, bamboo, stone, marble, leather, seagrass, wicker; these are just some of the natural materials you can include in your Biophilic design; both the look and the texture of these materials will connect you to the natural world. Where possible, opt for eco-friendly sustainable materials.
Winslow Homer’s High Cliff, Coast of Maine
AMERICAN shutters has a range of timber shutters, the eco-friendliest of which are Decowood Shutters, which are made from engineered wood sourced from sustainable forests.
Incorporating indoor plants in décor schemes is an interior design trend set to stay. Not only are they gorgeous features, but they are also good for us. Several recent studies highlight the benefits such as stress reduction, improved immunity and enhanced creativity and mood. In a 2019 study* it was reported that children under ten who were exposed to more greenery had 55% less risk of mental health issues later in life than those who were not. Plants also purify our air.
Monet’s Water Lily Pond
So this holiday season, before you book your tickets and pack your bags for the great outdoors, consider creating the great indoors a little closer to home.