The Benefits Of Biophilic Design

GUEST POST The Benefits Of Biophilic Design by Martin O’Callaghan of Wood Flooring Ireland.

Designers are increasingly opting for ‘real’ organic building materials in order to promote the benefits of nature. This concept is far from new but the real, tangible health benefits of biophilic design are only recently becoming more widely known.

What is Biophilia?


German psychoanalyst Erich Fromm coined the term ‘biophilia hypothesis’ in 1973 to explain the connection between human life and organic building materials. His findings state that we are fundamentally connected with organic materials.


Biologist Edward Wilson expanded upon Fromm’s research in 1984 by de that humans are inextricably linked with natural elements such as landscape, flora, and fauna. Recreating nature within our homes with materials such as timber is therefore promoting biophilic principles that ultimately improve our health and wellbeing.


Biophilia and Health

Numerous studies have been conducted on the health benefits of biophilia, and the results consistently indicate that timber has the potential to decrease blood pressure and lead to a noticeable decrease in stress levels.


Studies from Japan and Austria measured the effects of biophilia on hospital patients and secondary school students, respectively, and in both cases there were measurable health benefits on both sample groups.


Further studies were conducted at the University of British Columbia, whereby the presence of wood surfaces in a room had the effect of lowering sympathetic nervous system (SNS) activation. In other words, physiological stress levels were shown to have decreased in rooms with visual wood surfaces.Integrating natural materials into our home decor is a reliable means of lowering blood pressure, reducing stress levels, and accelerating recovery time from illness or surgery.


The Importance Of Biophilic Design for Remote Workers

In light of the global pandemic, 2020 saw a massive shift towards remote work both in Ireland and around the world. The need to create comfortable, calming workplaces from home has perhaps never been greater, which may explain why millennials have been buying house plants and succulents in record numbers.


Studies conducted in the UK and the Netherlands have shown that productivity can be increased by as much as 15% in ‘green’ spaces when compared to working without greenery. In addition to greenery, light and colour are inexpensive ways of creating controlled, calm spaces. Lush greens, vibrant blues, and earthy browns all add to the natural feel of a space.


Remote workers can achieve calm, comfortable, and productive workplaces by incorporating these simple elements into a biophilic design, but simply tossing a plant onto your desk won’t likely boost your productivity on its own - consider the big picture instead. Wooden furniture, wood flooring, natural sunlight (blinds and shutters are key here) and shade, and natural interior paint colours are all core elements of biophilic design for calm and productive home offices.


Create Meaningful Relationships with Biophilic Design

Interior designers have been studying trends in interior design for over 25 years, but it’s only in recent years that biophilic design has caught their attention for its profound impacts on our connection to nature. Biophilic design provides a meaningful relationship with nature in the home, through the use of light, colour, materials such as wood, and fabrics such as rough cotton and hemp.


Tactile, handcrafted materials such as wood, marble, and stone and splashes of on-trend green for 2021 all contribute to meaningful relationships with our living spaces. It’s particularly fitting with a traditional Irish aesthetic, thus making biophilic design quite feasible and attractive in Irish homes.


Biophilic design is the Western adaptation of Oriental Feng shui, which emphasises not only these elements but also the placement of furniture and using organic shapes such as round tables. Holistic biophilic design in the home transforms the home into a welcoming, comforting place to recover after a difficult day.


Biophilic Flooring

The natural choice for biophilic design in flooring is timber, due to its organic nature combined with its superb durability and longevity. Not only does wooden flooring look and feel earthy and grounded, but it’s also the premiere biophilic flooring material.


The choice of wood species plays an important role in aesthetic design. Oak, for example, symbolises strength, tradition, and elegance, but it also develops a rich natural patina as it ages. Modern interior design seeks to integrate health and wellness into architecture. As pertains to biophilic design, buildings are measured on their performance on a variety of metrics such as comfort and mind.


When installing engineered wood flooring, ensure that the flooring does not contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and solvents. VOCs are unfortunately rather common, so choose a reputable wood flooring supplier that is committed to solvent-free production.


Bring Your Home Back to Nature

2020 may be hindsight, as the saying goes, but it’s also a year that will be marked in history books for how it changed society as we knew it. It’s no surprise that with so many people spending more time at home that the need for calm, collected, productive spaces have ushered in biophilic design to the mainstream. The need for biophilic design and all of its benefits will only increase going forward.


Author Bio: This article was written by Martin O’Callaghan of Wood Flooring Ireland. Martin has over two decades experience working with timber flooring and is a firm believer in the health benefits of biophilic material.


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