What Is Biophilic Design and Why Is It Important?

Bill Starkey
4 min readFeb 28, 2022

If you’re like most people, you spend the majority of your time indoors. And if you’re like most people, you probably don’t think about the effect that has on your mental and physical health. Believe it or not, spending time in nature can be incredibly beneficial for both your mind and body-even when you’re just sitting outdoors. Biophilic design operates on this principle. In this blog post, we will discuss what biophilic design is and why it’s so important.

Biophilic Design

Biophilic design is the use of natural elements and patterns in architecture and interior design. It’s based on the idea that humans have an innate need to connect with nature because, for most of the history of our species, we lived our lives outdoors.

The modern concept of biophilic design was introduced by renowned biologist E.O. Wilson. In his 1984 book, Biophilia, Wilson, a Harvard research professor emeritus, outlined what he believed to be a fundamental tendency of humans to be drawn to nature. He pointed to our proclivity for imitating natural processes and structures in our design and everyday lives.

Biophilic design can be used in both indoor and outdoor spaces, at the building and neighborhood scale, and it can be incorporated into a variety of different structures, including homes, offices, schools, hospitals, hotels, and more. Biophilic design is not only aesthetically pleasing, but is also intended to promote human health and comfort.

Benefits of Biophilic Design

There are many benefits to incorporating biophilic design into a building. These benefits are based on an abundance of research on how these design principles impact people in a variety of settings.

For example, one study found that biophilic design can increase productivity among workers by as much as 20 percent. It has also been shown to reduce stress levels in patients at hospitals, potentially speeding up recovery time and reducing reliance on pain medication. Additionally, the hospitality industry has jumped on the biophilic design trend in a quest to provide better quality sleep for hotel guests.

Incorporating natural light into a building can help people feel calmer, more focused, and less stressed. Daylit indoor environments can also promote better sleep at night because sunlight helps regulate our natural circadian rhythms-that internal clock that tells your body when to feel sleepy and when to wake. Studies have also demonstrated that spaces that utilize daylight-sensing controls for lighting can reduce energy usage for electric lighting by as much as 60 percent. Thus, biophilic design principles can help reduce a building’s energy use.

How to Incorporate Biophilic Design into Your Home of Office

Architects and building engineers can incorporate biophilic design principles into their buildings by including elements like skylights, ample windows, fountains, atriums, green or living walls, views of nature, and natural indoor finishes like wood and bamboo.

However, you don’t have to be an architect to be incorporate biophilic design into your space. For example, one easy way is by adding houseplants like the peace lily, philodendron, and pothos. Other easy-care options for plants that can provide a refreshing shot of indoor greenery include English ivy, aloes, and sansevieria (commonly known as snake plant).

Another way to use biophilic design principles in your home or office is through the use of natural light. If you have windows to allow natural light into your space, it may be as easy as opening shutters or curtains to allow light in. More dramatic changes might include adding a window or installing a skylight.

Yet another option for bringing biophilic design into your space is to use natural materials. This could mean choosing furniture and decorative items made of wood, stone, wool, jute, bamboo, hemp, and sisal. You might also incorporate a small fountain to provide the sound of running water, which can be relaxing and even therapeutic. Many interior designers are also inspired by natural patterns, such as the spiral of a seashell, meandering rivers, sand dunes, the veins on a plant leaf, and other organic forms.

It’s possible to make either very small or very large changes to incorporate biophilic design principles into your home. Start wherever you feel comfortable and have the budget.

Takeaways: Biophilic Design Can Promote a Healthier, Happier Life

Biophilic design can create healthier spaces that improve your health and happiness. The use of nature in architecture has been shown to reduce stress levels while increasing productivity among employees at work and students in school environments. Biophilic design can also decrease a building’s energy use.

There are many ways you can incorporate biophilic design into your life, from adding plants to your home to installing natural lighting fixtures like skylights. Overall, biophilic design is a great way to create a healthier built environment and interior living space, as well as reduce energy costs. In sum, it’s not only great for people, but the planet, too.

Originally published at http://billstarkey.net on February 28, 2022.



Bill Starkey

A real estate professional in Montgomery, Texas, Bill Starkey spent more than 37 years as CEO of Starkey Construction, LLC.