The Biophilic Imperative: Designing With Nature In Mind

Words: Sarah Lograsso

In today’s world, people spend many waking hours trying to minimize the adverse effects of stress in their personal and professional lives. It’s now commonplace for techniques like aroma therapy, painting with calming colors and utilizing various types of lighting to set a mood within a space. These techniques speak to key principles of design that can reduce stress and lead to significant lifestyle adjustments for both homeowners and business dwellers. To reap even more stress-reducing benefits for their clients, designers and builders can embrace the application of nature-inspired material solutions to create more relaxing, human-centric spaces.

For decades, the brands within the Westlake Royal Stone Solutions portfolio have sought to make nature-inspired design inspirational and accessible, providing manufactured stone veneer (MSV) profiles that allow homeowners to create their own environmentally-minded sanctuaries.

What is Biophilic Design?
As technology continues to drive the activities of our daily lives, it’s no wonder that most of us increasingly crave connections to the natural environment. This aligns with the biophilia hypothesis, suggesting an inherent human inclination to seek closeness with nature. Multiple studies suggest that biophilic design solutions can alleviate stress, reduce heart rates and lower blood pressure while enhancing creativity, productivity, and overall well-being. The influential Terrapin Bright Green report, "14 Patterns of Biophilic Design," substantiates this link, referencing empirical studies that highlight the positive impact of natural environments on emotional restoration. Design elements incorporating natural elements offer a primal, sensory-rich means of reinforcing our bond with nature. From fire features and light wells to striking stone walls and intricate water features, these additions craft memorable spaces and foster a sense of tranquility in the environments we inhabit most.

Bring the Outdoors In
For homes and businesses, embracing the use of various natural design elements is the first step in combating homogonous, uninspired interior spaces. Luxury spas often incorporate stone and wood on their walls because they understand the calming effect of natural textures. This same philosophy can be translated into homes and offices with a variety of manufactured surfaces, including wood and stone veneer products. Eldorado Stone’s panelized profile RivenwoodTM emulates 19th-century barns craftsmanship with authentic wood characteristics like breaks and knots to bring this effect to life.

Lighten Up
Natural light is key in any space, and research suggests that incorporating more sunlight can help with everything from reducing overall stress levels to encouraging healthier sleep patterns. Windows let in views and breezes, and light wells reduce our reliance on artificial light. Blending indoor and outdoor spaces can be achieved with a variety of building products such as opening glass wall systems, which create spaces that integrate outdoor elements of natural light and views, while ensuring the creature comforts of indoors such as climate control. Furthermore, leveraging stone veneer or wood detailing that harmonizes with natural lighting not only enhances aesthetics but also amplifies the benefits, creating spaces that exude warmth and tranquility while optimizing well-being.

Embrace Earthy Accents
Incorporating natural colors and textures can provide both direct and indirect connections with nature. Plants offer both a pop of color and a breath of fresh air, often helping to filter the air and provide a greater feeling of calm simply by their natural aromas. For the truly committed, entire living walls can be stunning in both appearance and effect.

A stone veneer accent wall is another way to incorporate unique, nature-inspired hues and textures—evocative of the natural world, manufactured stone veneer products are lightweight and easy to install. Colors can be customized to fit a particular aesthetic as well, giving designers and other specifiers greater creative control and allowing for color and texture matching between historic or legacy stone and new applications many years later. An MSV profile like Cultured Stone’s Country Ledgestone showcases a blend of regular and irregular shapes, delivering organic charm to any room it is added to.

Biophilic design provides a versatile framework for understanding and addressing our common need for connection, both to the physical world around us and to one another. As nature-inspired design elements and solutions continue to grow, both in terms of volume and level of sophistication, the possibilities are boundless when it comes to designing for the unique spaces where we live, work and entertain.

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