Though our world today hardly resembles our ancestral environment, our biological rules still apply, we are wired to crave the natural world.

The biophilic trend is in association to the wellness trend. A buzzword over recent years with many micro trends that fall into this ever-evolving Macro Trend. 

Leading a healthy lifestyle has brought us healthy recipes that we eat al-fresco, endless spa escapes to our inbox and of course the lifestyle trends such as Hygge. We see many lifestyle – or macro – trends translated to micro design trends. In 2019 the response of Hygge and Lagom brought a huge demand for Scandi design styles, which in turn evolved to Japandi or Scandanese design styles – a hybrid blend of East meets West. Despite opposing cultures and geographical differences between Japanese and Scandinavian design, the ethos is all and one the same – to create calming environments and to really connect with our surroundings for a balanced psyche.

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Inside-Out

The ‘Inside-Out’ trend has been popular since 2018; achieved in ways such as extending the same wooden flooring from the living room to the patio and utilising natural textures indoors, to blur the lines between our indoor environments and the outside world.

These historic lifestyle and design influences have evolved into the trends of today, growing into biophilic design. Incorporating outdoor elements help us feel more relaxed and balanced by creating a feeling of being more connected to nature – and why is this important?

“Though our world today hardly resembles our ancestral environment, our biological rules still apply,” said Nikil Saval, author of Cubed: A Secret History of the Workplace. “We are wired to crave the natural world.”

Connected to nature

We live in a time where we are surrounded by technology at every turn; harsh man-made materials frame our lives, we connect with each other over video call and are constantly attached to our phones – which even host the power to control our at-home steam rooms – these modern ubiquitous ways detach us from our roots and it’s important to literally switch off:

In a world where technology is evolving at the speed of light, we often forget about our primitive roots connected with earth and the benefits that nature has on our overall psyche. We believe that increasing our connectivity to nature directly or indirectly through biophilic design has health, environmental, and economic benefits. It’s simpler than you think, and the benefits are plentiful!” — Becky Shea, Interior Designer & Lifestyle Entrepreneur

There are many ways we can achieve biophilic design; whether it be with literal plants, colours that mimic our environment or surrounding ourselves with those materials created by mother nature.

Colour and Mood

PPG created Chinese Porcelain as their Colour of The Year 2020. A shade developed to ‘mimic natural hues and reconnect us with familiar surroundings’. The need for simplicity and escapism from technology is in part, the reason that consumers are craving blues like Chinese Porcelain that it “bring us closer to natural elements such as the sea and sky – the horizon spot, creating serenity in any space.” Adding natural elements to spaces in terms of colour, texture or plant life is the essence of biophillic design. Chinese Porcelain is a second blue tone predicted as a colour of 2020, similar to Pantones ‘Classic Blue’. 

Another obvious choice is green: the colour of nature. Considered the most restful colour for the eye, green is known to have the ability to emit a feeling of calm when used in interior design – submerging it’s inhabitants in a tranquil environment reminiscent of relaxing open fields, leafy woodlands and lush tropical environments. Symbolising growth green is proven to actually make people feel emotionally safe with its calming psychological effect.

As Interior designer, Shannon Kaye, says “You can decorate an entire room with greens and have contrast, drama, richness, and balance. It’s so versatile.” Pairing greens with whites creates a fresh scheme, whilst black with rich greens will create drama. 

Colour in Nature

Looking to the future, WGSN’s Head of Colour Jenny Clark advises colours will ground us or excite us. ‘Colours will aim to bring exuberance and lift our spirits, whilst remaining grounded with neutral, organic tones as balance to a design schemes colour palette.’ Think of adding bright, rich accent colours in a more neutral room.

Pantone predicts that for Summer 2021 we step forward into a season of quieter, more natural colours. But remember that natural doesn’t necessarily mean neutral: imagine autumnal woodlands and exotic sunsets –  oranges spring to mind don’t they? And as for the blues of the sea and the sky? The colour Aqua is coined as the colour of immersing ourselves in aquatic escapes.

As long as the colour reminds you of something you love found in nature, it will have a calming effect. The fact there are also no truly flat surfaces in nature also means that colours differ with light, due to their textures. Designing a biophilic room also requires thought for luminosity, texture and tonality– how light reflects or is absorbed by textures and how materials communicate to us is equally as important as colour.

Textures are key

We’re seeing an ever-evolving demand to include wood in designs. Specifically, wooden curvilinear furniture – as there are no straight lines in nature. Wood has somehow become even more popular if it was possible. Whilst all wood is welcome in this scheme, lighter washed woods portray the Scandi vibe whilst darker tones will ground the room and add depth.

For outdoor furniture, Royal Botania is so dedicated to using the best quality, highest durability, sustainably sourced teak that for their outdoor furniture that they have their own teak plantation and only harvest after 75-80 years to carry through a strict, careful manufacturing process.

Wood is available in countertops, tiles, furniture, seating and even lighting due to its popularity. Wooden framed mirrors earn double points as another key aspects of biophilic design is light. 

Adding mirrors to reflect natural light help regulate our internal body clock. Lighting itself is important, yet more importantly it’s the type of light. This theory is called circadian lighting; imagine sunrise, noon and dusk – they’re all different strengths and colours of light and our brain is wired to respond to these. For a restful night’s sleep we need warmer lower lighting to wind down. Relaxing in the bath with an illuminated mirror and lanterns with warmer kelvins of light provide a perfect ‘wind-down’ ambience. Likewise, it would be important to use cooler lighting to wake us up taking our morning shower 

And what of other materials, what falls into the biophilic category? Imagine yourself in different landscapes; what materials do you see? Pebbles on a sandy beach? A Himalayan landscape of Onyx? Climbing in the stone mountains? All apply. And of course, including plants – real or fake – in your space is the epitome of bringing the outside in. Or equally, and for the bold among us, jungle prints adorning walls are also a perfect way to create escapism. The technology to create tiles in multiple colours and textures now offers an incredible range to choose from.

Tile Direction

Thanks to evolving technology, multiple layers of colours can be applied to tiles to create intricate prints and patterns; this means you can achieve the look of marble and wood without the upkeep and maintenance of the ‘real deal’.

Biophilic effect tiles encompass; Clays from CIR, Stone effect Maku from FAP, Wood effect from Fioranese, Onyx from Del Conca and Terrazzo from Coem.

Terrazzo is traditionally made from recycled fragments of typically natural materials such as marble, granite, quartz, glass, and shells. The trend has seen these prints adorn everything from fabrics to furniture and especially walls and floors. A pattern reminiscent of woodland leaves and petals is a perfect fit for the Biophilic trend. 

Wood effect tiles are also a wonderful way to merge the lines between indoor and outdoor. Many living rooms or kitchens-to-patios use this technique to create an ongoing sense of space. Similarly Stainless Steel is a material suitable for both environments with its resilient properties.

All aspects of wellness

The biophilic trend is in partnership with the wellness concept, this encompasses deeper roots that the obvious tangible objects we deem to bring us happiness. Air and water are two of the main four elements. Benefits of hydrotherapy include aiding repair of tired muscles, increasing circulation and the releasing of endorphins – hydrotherapy can be realised through use of body jets with a rainfall the shower, to outdoor whirlpools and hot tubs. Bagnospa and Bossini products offer indulgence in showering experiences to immerse yourself in the dreams of Bali waterfalls, whilst a sauna has health benefits to remove toxins and relive stress, whilst using the most loved material – wood.

 

 

Product Direction – Indoor

Whilst we mimic and include natural materials, we also need to consider mimicking natural light in line with nature – if you are unwinding in the bath on an evening, use illuminated mirrors and wall lights with a warm glow. Yet if you typically shower in a morning to feel alert, a brighter bulb will help you wake up. This is called biodynamic lighting – it mimics that of nature. Light is warmest at sunrise and dusk, whilst its brightest when the sun is highest in the sky at noon; from this we can add bright lights in places we need to be alert, and warm light in relaxing areas. 

Adding as much natural light as possible with help regulate the circadian body clock. Natural light is always best and whilst not always easy to add a skylight or additional windows, you can add large mirrors to reflect the natural light you do have. This theory is what brought the Argo 1200mm mirror and Monroe 1100mn mirror to the BAGNODESIGN range. Sanipex Group also recently expanded into outdoor lighting – with an IP rating of 44 and above, all are suitable for anywhere in the home including above a bath or shower.

Whilst Contardi offer opulent pendants, Royal Botania combine wood with glass in Tristar whilst the Ropy light features a woven exterior – the use of fabric creates a softer, relaxing environment.

“Aesthetics, wellness and individuality all describe the virtues of a modern bathroom.”

Product Direction – Outdoor

Mixing materials such as fabric and wood, as well as robust rope and wondrous weaving, is a growing trend for outdoor furniture to alleviate furniture into stand out pieces that are as comfortable as they are aesthetically pleasing; some our top picks include: the curvilinear Lotus daybed from Royal Botania with an elegant rope backrest. The Nest range from Cane-Line with a comfortable cradling effect featuring a natural wicker structure with quick dry air flow fabric.  Panama from Talenti offers ergonomic cool open-weaving in five colours; as well as Jati & Kebon’s Ritz – an orient inspired range featuring minimal wooden teak frame and Sunbrella Ezydry fabric cushions in a leafy green shade. 

Even man-made materials can still be biophilic; the Forest range from FAST is eponymously named from patterns between lights and shadows between trees,  Green Tea or Terracotta are the most biophilic finishes.

Summary

We can summarise designing to the biophilic trend by following the basic tips below:

  • Find a point of inspiration within nature, such as a favourite landscape image, and pull out the colours that speak to you.
  • Associate colours with products to build your material palette – products can be anything from taps and accessories to furniture finishes and tiles.
  • Remember to   use natural materials such as wood, marble and stone to soften the space  and add tactilty
  • Think about the way you utilise products – do you read on the daybed immersed in nature to relax, or do you find yourself at peace in a whirlpool of water?
  • Include as much light as possible – and ensure you use both warm and cool lights for different times of day.
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