What’s in the name?

Biophilia: Love of nature, an attraction to the natural world, its presence and processes. Namely plants, water, animals and materials. Instinctively, humans are drawn to nature by an ingrained association with it for over millions of years. There is no wonder of its attraction and benefits to our health and design. Defined by Harvard biologist E.O. Wilson, “the connections that human beings subconsciously seek with the rest of life.” Poignantly at this time of the demise of our planet, we are understanding the benefits more deeply than before, particularly in these unsettling times ahead.

Good lines

We are constantly inspired by the natural world. Image attribute. Unsplash.

Are you biophilic?

I would most certainly think yes, but there are those of us who could possibly lean towards being bio-phobic - those of us who see nature as only serving needs for a ‘use’ and then disregarding and  not understading the benefits. Over the last few months I have definitely become biophilic, in fact, I think I have become BB (Bonkers Biophilic). I shall explain later. So, no need to be alarmed, you have not fallen into the wrong post by mistake, and you do not need to check for any symptoms! The term biophilic certainly lends itself to sound like a symptomatic disorder, but rest assured, it is not.

The Benefits.

There is no doubt that plants in particular are up lifting, and when accompanied with other natural materials such as stone, marble and glass the feeling can be euphoric. Ever walked into a restaurant or open space with an abundance of plantation surrounding you, and to be met by a wave of contentment. Your breathing improves, you think clearly and are relaxed, that’s the effect of biophilia. This feeling of wellbeing is produced from bacteria and in turn improves our respiratory system and increases serotonin levels. Plants also release oxygen and purify our air thus making us feel awake and energised.

Dalloway Terrace London. A beautiful place to feel relaxed. Image attribute. Dalloway Terrace.

The facts. Science says.

The World Health Organisation has stated that there will be an increase in stress related illnesses, mental health and cardio-vascular disease over the coming years, and we are already seeing evidence of this. Being connected to, in the presence of the natural world, however small, can reduce stress levels, improve breathing, blood pressure is lower, and the mind is in a good place.

So, what’s natures secret?

It’s all very comforting but are we just imagining this is good for our well-being, could these be  a placebo or just another trend? Surround yourself with nature and you will be happier and content? Simply, yes. Humans evolved from natural surroundings and our physical, emotional and spiritual being has always had a connection. It is part of our make-up, our development and survival. In short, having a love of plants and nature, and using it in our everyday lives we are only behaving in natures way, gaining what we have lost over hundreds of years. Rather like taking an endangered species out of natural habitat and forcing it to live in a different climate and environment over the centuries this has been taken away without knowing.

The feeling of wellbeing can be created with some simple plants.

How to use biophilia in Interior Design.

By using plants and natural materials in our homes and at work, we can bring balance and harmony to our lives. It is known that we spend on average 90 percent of our time living in the incorrect environment which is a sad fact to learn. So, whether its cut flowers, a small potted plant on your desk or an abundance of plants in your home, that’s a good way forward for a healthy  environment both mentally and visually. Create ‘vistas’ and layers of pots and let them be the focus of attention. Combine with natural planters such as terracotta and rattan to complete the look. Big plants and small trailing from the bases of others help to create interest.

Vauxhall Sky Gardens. How space can make us feel. Image attribute: Gillespie.

Which plants to choose.

All plants are purifying, but start off small with inexpensive varieties, and ones that require little maintenance. Monstera is a firm favourite, very hardy and requiring moderate light - of which good light we lack in the UK. Silver Lady with its classic green and drooping fronds with equal care but requires misting.

Snake plants thrive in almost any light condition and need only a light watering, and ZZ plants, (Zamioculcas zamiifolia) tolerate neglect and accepts low light too.

More high maintenance are ‘Homalomena’ and ‘String of Pearls’. All beautiful specimens, but can be very sensitive to direct sunlight and temperatures need monitoring aswell. You can buy these at your local florist shop or nursery. Try I love Flowers, Van Hagues or some delighful internet sites that I know of such as Beards & Daisies and Feather & Nest.

Monstera or ‘Cheese plant’ a firm favourite. A hardy character.

Biophilc design

String of Pearls. A beautiful and delicate plant with bead like fronds.

Biophilic interior design

Homalomena. Native of Southern Asia. Enjoys damp humid environment. Unusual and eye catching.

Snake plant or Mother-In-Law’s tongue. Architectural with its thick tall leaves. 

Why stop there?

The interior of a space is not the only place to use biophilia. Many people already enjoy the benefits of creating wonderful gardens and outside spaces, and we know that it is both therapeutic for our souls and enhances our lives. When thinking of interior design, let the plants be the backdrop, let them set the scene. They are the decoration and a natural one ay that.

More facts …

  • It is a fact that productivity, creativity is increased, and reduced absenteeism is reduced when an office is designed with improved connection to the natural world.
  • In Hotels and holiday homes, guests will choose an interiorly well-presented room and a green view over one that has none.
  • In education it is known that learning and concentration is higher and attendance levels are also evident.
  • In restaurants, people feel more relaxed and sociable in places that are well designed with plants plantation surrounding them.
  • In retail, shoppers are more likely to spend and linger in green environments over grey and concrete built centres, and the rental rates are reflected in these spaces, naturally.
  • In our homes, having larger, tall ceilinged and full of nature’s gifts, can be calming and restorative and less likely of developing mental illness.

Restaurants are enhanced with plants and relaxing hues such as pink and green.

Finally, why did I become BB?

I blame my beautiful daughter. Just recently she and her partner purchased their first home and we have been shopping - like mums and daughters do, and taken on an obsession with plants.  Succulents, cactus, seed plants, ferns, palms you name it. Terracotta, ceramic and basket planters have also been purchased in an array of different sizes to complement each and every one. So much so that armies of plants are strategically placed around the family house and ready to be cared for in their new home. Every nook and cranny has become crammed with plant love. It’s almost become a competition to see who can find the most interesting of plant life and oh, yes, I forgot to tell you they all have names!

Tracey Andrews Interiors Office.

If you want to create a home that is full of sources from the natural world please contact us here.

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