How Bringing the Outdoors Inside Can Improve Your Health

Almost everything we call design is supposed to look good, but only certain design elements actually make us feel good. Biophilia is defined as the love of living things and nature, and biophilic design mimics aspects of the natural world that contribute to human health and productivity. The word "biophilia" is the title of the seminal book written by the world-famous Harvard biologist E. O. Wilson, but in design the go-to resource on the topic is the report: “The 14 Patterns of Biophilic Design,” by the firm Terrapin Bright Green. (click here to access the report.)

Terrapin Bright Green suggests that biophilic design can reduce stress, enhance creativity and clarity of thought, improve our well-being, and expedite healing.

Following are some examples of products that have incorporated biophilic strategies in their design:

The Big Ass Fan Haiku Fan has a special “whoosh” mode that mimics the variable breezes one might experience while sitting in open nature.  

Big Ass Fans are available in 52", 60", and 84" models for indoor or outdoor use. Image courtesy of Big Ass Fans.

Natura makes Living Plant Walls that are among the smartest designs this author has seen in this type of product. Not only does it make a visual design statement in a home, but plants remove harmful volatile organic compounds (VOCs) often found in building materials, finishes, and furniture.

Image courtesy of Natura.

Phillips and Ketra both produce lighting that mimics the color and temperature changes of natural sunlight as it shifts throughout the day. This design syncs well with the human body’s natural circadian rhythms.

This Southern California home is filled with Ketra's Natural Light, providing the right light at the right time of day. Image courtesy of Ketra. 

Wilsonart’s Nature Beckons Collection contains 17 patterns of laminate, all based on biophilic patterns.

Image courtesy of Wilsonart.

Mohawk Carpet offers Biophilique and Nutopia as collections that are scientifically proven to tickle the brain with delight.

Image courtesy of Biophilique carpeting by Virginia Langley (Durkan broadloom).

Another way to incorporate biophilic design into a home includes the use of water features. Studies have shown water elements lower heart rate and blood pressure, and improve concentration and memory.

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