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Biophilia: Bring nature home

Last Updated : 01 January 2022, 00:36 IST
Last Updated : 01 January 2022, 00:36 IST

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Stick to natural colours with earthy tones, while creating a biophilic space.
Stick to natural colours with earthy tones, while creating a biophilic space.
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Moss and fern frames are some customer favourites at e-commerce gardening platform myBageecha.
Moss and fern frames are some customer favourites at e-commerce gardening platform myBageecha.

In 1984, American biologist Edward O Wilson hypothesised that humans are drawn to nature and other forms of life, a tendency he called biophilia. Cut to the present, urban homes are embracing biophilia like never before by incorporating everything from mosses and air-purifying indoor plants to wooden floors and rooftop windows.

Biophilic home designs bring the outdoors inside, and with that, deliver the benefits that come with being in nature, suggest industry experts.

“Many studies have shown that adding greenery to spaces you spend a lot of time in can reduce stress and improve concentration,” says Akhilesh Baldota, partner at Creative Geometry, a Bengaluru-based architecture and interior design house.

Basics of biophilic design

Just adding plants to your home will not make it biophilic. The focus should be on the architecture.

Your home should let in natural light and allow ventilation without having you depend on artificial sources. It should imbibe earthy colours and perhaps some wood, mud or terracotta too. The idea is to recreate in some ways the multi-sensorial experience one feels in the middle of nature.

Biophilic design elements go well with eco-friendly architecture. “The two concepts work together, guiding, informing and influencing each other. Often while we make ‘sustainable buildings’, it is tokenism – it doesn’t establish the connection with nature that one hopes. Biophilic architecture addresses that gap,” explains architect Prashanth Nandiprasad.

The key is to seek design inspiration from nature, not replicate it.

“Nature has had the time to refine itself. Even in the most ravaged regions on the earth, nature finds a way to evolve and survive. This can give us some clues on how to incorporate nature into the man-made environment,” he explains.

India’s geography, climate and culture is diverse and so design needs and approaches will differ from region to region, he points out.

Your aim should be to mix up biophilic elements that suit the local climate and aesthetics.

“Courtyards, water bodies, skin walls, controlled light, ventilation and roofing are areas for introducing the biophilic design in Indian homes,” says Prashanth.

Likewise, interior designer Shilpa A says, “A biophilic design in Indian homes would mean having spacious rooms that let in light, an earthy colour scheme, wooden furniture and a good number of house plants.”

Thinks to watch out for

Dos

Give importance to natural lighting. Incorporate larger windows and skylights.

Have an open space design and ensure good ventilation. Cross ventilation is key.

Stick to natural colours with earthy tones.

Choose plants that are easy to maintain.

Stick to minimalistic art pieces.

Declutter the space from time to time.

Indulge in green room schemes.

Add natural materials like wood and stone.

Don’ts

Avoid extravagant furniture.

Say no to colour blocking, or dark colours in poorly-lit rooms

Don’t mix up the undertones.

Do not recreate natural forms such as flowers or birds; take inspiration from them.

Trending in India

Many architects and studios in India are increasingly offering biophilic designs for both home and workspaces, points out interior designer Shilpa A.

Sales on myBageecha, an e-commerce gardening platform, have increased since the pandemic broke out. “We have seen a surge in first-time gardeners on our website. We received a lot of queries and they are proof that people want to start a patch of greenery in their homes,” says cofounder Saumitra Kabra. Low-maintenance indoor plants, moss and fern frames, preserved tabletops are some of the favourite customer picks on their website. “Moss frames and preserved tabletops are made with real flowers, ferns and moss that are preserved in their natural state. So while these are not ‘alive’, they still add a natural touch to the space,” she explains.

The trend of building with natural materials like stone, brick, wood and terracotta is also growing, say experts.

“We now have look-alike alternatives to natural elements such as stone and wood. However, in order to make an actual ecological impact, one needs to grow out of trends. Go for holistic designs rather than those that just fulfil aesthetic needs,” says architect Prashanth Nandiprasad.

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Published 31 December 2021, 14:24 IST

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