In the workplace and at home we spend hours trying to minimize the adverse effects of stress. Whether the buildup of stress occurs deliberately or by happenstance, it’s a part of our professional and personal lives that can often seem unavoidable. This is particularly true in the blended work-and-personal environments many of us inhabit today, and the stressors of those two previously separate worlds collide.
Thankfully, there are a few timeless principles of design that can help manage anxiety levels just as effectively as lifestyle adjustments, including self-care activities such as yoga and meditation. These stylistic choices are largely benign, meaning that once they’re in place there’s little to no maintenance required.
Best of all, these are solutions we’ve had at our fingertips for eons. We just have to choose to stay connected with the world outside our walls, windows, and doors.
What is Biophilic Design?
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Simply put, the biophilia hypothesis suggests that humans possess an innate tendency to seek connections with nature. Numerous studies indicate that biophilic design solutions in homes and workplaces can even reduce stress and lower heart rates and blood pressure while increasing creativity, productivity, and well-being.
The landmark Terrapin Bright Green report, “14 Patterns of Biophilic Design,” confirms this correlation and cites various studies that underscore a sense of “greater emotional restoration, with lower instances of tension, anxiety, anger, fatigue, confusion, and total mood disturbance” when people are in natural environments compared to urban environments with fewer natural features and characteristics.
With purpose, however, we have the capacity to transform even the most urban environments for the better.
Biophilic Design Elements
From fire features and light wells, to stone statement walls and elaborate water features, we have the ability to showcase natural elements in any space, which in turn provides us with a primal, multisensory approach to reinforcing our connections to nature and evoking a sense of tranquility in the places where we spend most of our time.
Here are three fundamental strategies for incorporating biophilic design into commercial and residential projects on the horizon:
Bring the Outdoors In
Rather than anesthetizing and homogenizing our interior spaces, we must embrace the use of natural elements within our homes and businesses. This is a concept that luxury spa specifiers have understood for years, incorporating stone and wood on their walls because they understand the calming effect of natural textures. We can easily translate this same philosophy into home and office design by utilizing a variety of sustainably manufactured surfaces, from wood and stone veneer products, to wallpaper with botanical prints and nature-inspired murals.
Research suggests that incorporating more natural sunlight into any space can help reduce stress levels and encourage healthy patterns of waking and sleeping. Beyond using more and larger windows or including overhead light wells to reduce our reliance on artificial light, the greatest innovations of our time are actively blending indoor and outdoor spaces. These transitional features allow us to integrate the full benefits of outdoor elements, the most impactful of which is natural light, while ensuring the creature comforts such as climate control.
Greenery is the quickest and easiest way to enhance interior spaces with a pop of color and a direct connection to the outside world. Several plants will also help to filter the air and may provide a sense of calm simply by emitting their natural aromas. For the truly committed, entire living walls can be stunning in both appearance and effect, particularly when paired with an accent wall of stone veneer, an easy to install product that evokes the natural world and can be customized to fit a wide variety of aesthetics.
By allowing us to remain rooted to the physical world, biophilic design provides a versatile framework for addressing our common need for connection. As nature-inspired design solutions continue to grow in number and sophistication, the possibilities are endless when it comes to designing for the unique spaces where we live, work, and entertain.
The results are guaranteed to feel as timeless as the materials we utilize to shape the future.
By Sarah Lograsso, Director of Marketing at Boral Stone Division
Sarah Lograsso is the Director of Marketing for Boral North America’s stone division of brands (Cultured Stone, Eldorado Stone, Kindred Outdoors + Surrounds, Versetta Stone, Dutch Quality, StoneCraft, and ProStone), where she manages all of the brands’ marketing, advertising, and promotional projects and objectives. She is well versed in manufactured stone and brick veneer, masonry techniques, biophilic design, fireplace surrounds, outdoor living, fire bowls, color and texture, and up-to-date industry and market trends.