In temperate regions, fall and winter signal a gradual retreat from the natural world. The days get darker, the world gets less green and unfortunately, the air gets a little bit more difficult to breathe, with seasonal affective disorder and sickness being a common occurrence throughout the season. Which is why we’re looking at four ways to incorporate biophilic design to help mitigate the more negative aspects of winter, in addition to providing year-round comfort.
Adding Natural Materials Can Really Warm a Space
There’s a reason why hardwood is often so favored over carpet. Aside from being easier to clean and its resistance to stains and odors, it brings the visual warmth and color of wood into a home. But aside from that, there is an entire palette of materials and applications that can be used to bring nature closer to clients. Jute, hemp, organic cotton, wool, bamboo and natural stone are just a sampling of available options.
Designers shouldn’t just stop at the visuals, however, as some natural pieces come with significant utility. Take, for instance, soapstone. An all-natural stone product, soapstone is incredible at holding onto and diffusing literal warmth throughout a space. Even it it’s just the sun streaming onto a soapstone surface, it’s able to warm a room quite effectively.
This allows homeowners to keep a space comfortably heated, without using wood fires or forced air heating that can ultimately decrease indoor air quality.
Plants Bring a Breath of Fresh Air
The first thing that people think of when it comes to biophilic design are also the best at helping ward off the worst of winter. When talking about more natural materials, plants are as natural as they can get. In addition to bringing much needed warmth and brightness, however, they passively scrub the air of pollutants that may accumulate more during the winter (though they can’t match the efficacy of an air purifier).
Even clients that are self-proclaimed plant killers can have potted greenery added without fear of it going to waste. So many innovations and devices have turned plant care into an ambient function of the home itself.
For instance, there are faucets that use a portion of water when needed to water attached herb gardens. IoT powered green walls, meanwhile, use a profusion of sensors to keep homeowners up to date on the best location for plants, as well as when they most need attention
Biomorphic Patterns and Textures Offer More Engagement Than Clean, Flat Surfaces
A smooth, blank canvas is a rarity in nature. Instead, tactile and visual textures engage the senses and excite the mind, so home spaces benefit greatly from incorporating more natural constructs into a space.
Hexagonal tiles serve as a callback to honeycomb-like design, while arched doors and windows can incorporate soft, curving visuals akin to bending branches. Furniture, too, can be used to incorporate flowing, wave-like patterns into a space with upholstery and bark-like textures in the frame.
Woven throw rugs and blankets also offer elements of textural richness through their rough, fibrous presentation, and often heavier weight, providing an additional layer of substance to their engagement. Keeping in line with using natural materials will also lower the amount of off-gassing and VOCs present in the environment, improving air quality while homeowners are stuck indoors as well.
Light is a Precious Resource, So Use it Well
Aside from providing much needed glimpses into the natural world, windows ultimately provide the only avenue for natural light to enter a space. And during the winter, people want as much of that light as they can get. It’s important, then, to organize sleeping and gathering spaces in ways that make the most of light’s natural progression throughout the day.
In locations where this might not be possible, however, designers can incorporate human-centric lighting (HCL) to get a helping hand. Being able to mimic the natural progression of light temperature throughout the day, HCL can not only supplement daylighting designs, but also extend the day, so-to-speak, as the hours shorten on their way to the winter solstice.