Finding wellbeing in interiors

By Jana Robinson at The Emerald Lounge

‘For women with something to say.’ This little tagline at And In Other News had me straight away and made me want to introduce your readers to my little corner of boundless interior thoughts. It is a privilege to write a few words about what I am passionate about, which is wellbeing in interiors.

I think it is appropriate to start this blog with what is essential to my work as an interior designer. The phrase ‘BIOPHILIC DESIGN’ is not well known, but it forms the basis of my work.

BIOPHILIA = The love of nature.

I would like you to look outside your window and take in the landscape. If you are blessed with a view of the sea, lush woodland or a garden, cherish that. If you struggle to see a blade of grass or a tree branch from your busy city building, and battle with the constant noise of traffic and a sea of geometric shaped buildings, stay put as I will shine a light on why you need to start designing your home, according to the patterns of nature. Design, after all, is about being creative in your own home.

We have learnt to be adaptable and have grown to be sophisticated creatures, so we know what is good for us. It is nature that shapes our senses and ultimately supports our wellbeing and happiness – it brings the best out in us.

Biophilic design is about the connection we have with nature, yet we have allowed this never-ending source of happiness to become of secondary importance. It is crucial we spend every possible moment exposed to green landscapes and natural light, the aroma of plants, the wind on our skin and the abundance of texture.

Ask yourself. How much time do you spend indoors on average each day, be it an office, gym, library, shop or school? A lot happens indoors, however, when you think that 80-90% of our time is spent inside it’s quite startling. Surprised? There is a lot we can do to nourish our wellbeing and improve our life satisfaction through considered design.

Nature offers more than fresh air. The incredible variety of manmade, unstructured and symmetrical patterns leads our brain to perceive this as normal. Does it make you wonder why we do not use more pattern inside our homes and keep our interiors more stimulating?

Biophilic design is a framework of 14 elements, a series of tools for understanding design opportunities that designers and architects use to improve health and wellbeing in a constructed environment. Hospitals and large office blocks benefit hugely from this approach to building and design and residential design is not far behind.

Here are my easy tips on how to use Biophilia at home.

The View

This is an important one. We all appreciate a good view and properties which offer this in abundance can mean big money for homeowners looking to sell their house.

This aspect, of course, solves one of the bigger challenges people face when it comes to furniture placement. My advice is to always prioritise the view you see out of the window. Positioning your desk, dining table or armchair with that in mind will really bring a room together. A direct relationship with the outdoors is the most important element to consider.

Material

The use of eco-friendly materials keeps our homes true to its natural surroundings. A mixture of textures and shapes is helpful in creating a captivating, stimulating array of furnishings. Use surfaces that invite you to touch, feel and connect. Textural variations from hard to soft surfaces apply not only to touch by hand but also underfoot.

Top tip: my suggestions for natural material would be stone, wood, leather, wicker, seagrass, brass, copper, cork, wool, linen and many more.

Lighting

Considering that when we experience a lack of daylight it affects our enthusiasm, there is no surprise that any space with tall windows, large bi-folding doors or a skylight is a winner in everyone’s eyes. So, if you are extending your property, adding an extra window/door or a roof lantern, it will not only magnify the amount of daylight inside but it will also reconnect you to your garden.

Is your circadian rhythm beating like clockwork? The blue colour of daylight is telling our bodies to work, think and make decisions so the more daylight we receive, the more productive our brain will be. 

Top tip: pull your curtains as far to the side as possible to let the light in and have your roman blinds fitted on the outside recess if possible.

Foliage

Plants offer movement and abundance of texture. They help redirect your attention and concentration, especially if you have a plant sitting on your desk offering your brain a little break. The freshness they bring through their colour and texture makes them the ultimate accessory for our homes. There are thousands of varieties suitable for rooms with various levels of daylight. Truly, plants bring optimism, positivity and connection into our homes.

Top tip: plants can be used to separate open-plan spaces into zones and to create pockets of humidity, especially during winter.

Colour

Blue has been officially voted as the nation’s most favourite colour, closely followed by green. No wonder we relate to them on such a high level with so many different shades to choose from. The science bit is that they in fact help reduce blood pressure and slow down your heart rate. Take a note of this for spaces where you want to achieve this effect.

The general rule is that colour on the cool side of the colour wheel (blues, greens, cool purples) provide a soothing atmosphere and colour on the warm side of the colour wheel (yellows, reds, oranges) affect us in a more energetic and positive way.

Top tip: use colour according to what behaviour and activities take place in a room.

Air/Seasonal Changes

You will not be surprised to hear that fresh airflow indoors and a change in temperature signals that seasonal changes are paramount to keeping us and our green leafy companions healthy. The smell of air that each season brings helps our bodies with adjusting to changes ahead and who doesn’t like to see a meadow of daisies in the spring or a stroll through woods in autumn? The changes outside excite us and mimicking this in our homes is another step to keeping our environment fresh.

Top tip: use seasonal flowers and don’t be scared to go foraging for the odd twig to add to your flower arrangement for a wider look.

And finally, it’s not just about bringing the outside in, it is more about stretching out the positive feeling we get whilst outside. Profit from the happy memories we share with nature and take advantage from the mental stimulation it offers.

Placing nature at the heart of every decision we make is the first step to applying Biophilic design.

Thank you for reading and, if you have made it this far, you may be interested in visiting https://www.terrapinbrightgreen.com/reports/14-patterns/ for further information.

2 thoughts on “Finding wellbeing in interiors

  1. I love this article. I research for the NHS and believe design study as you describe could help patients in hospitals.
    Fascinating. Thank you

    Liked by 1 person

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