‘Blend indoor and outdoor living.’ ‘Bring the outdoors in.’ ‘Make your home feel like an outdoor oasis.’ With the start of summer comes the annual anecdotes and advice about blurring the line between the built and natural environments. But have you ever wondered why landscape-like interiors are so compelling, irrespective of season?
In the early 1980s, researcher Roger S. Ulrich found the answer in a suburban Pennsylvania hospital. Wanting to find out whether surgical patients’ room assignments impacted their post-operative recovery, Ulrich confirmed that patients assigned to rooms overlooking a stand of trees were discharged from the hospital more quickly than nearly identical patients who had recuperated while staring at a brick wall. They also logged fewer complaints on their evaluation charts and requested fewer pain killers. At about the same time, Edward O. Wilson proposed that humans have an affinity for the natural world and that interacting with nature could improve a person’s health and quality of life. Ulrich’s study offered proof of the idea, which Wilson called biophilia.
If biophilia is defined as our attraction to nature, then biophilic design means manipulating a space to feel more like nature. Bringing the outdoors in, in other words. “Rather than being vestigial—or relevant to a world that no longer exists—this need is thought to remain instrumental to people’s physical and mental health, fitness, and wellbeing,” Stephen R. Kellert, who coauthored Wilson’s 1993 book The Biophilia Hypothesis, wrote in 2015.
One’s choice of finishes can help turn a home or commercial interior into a biophilic space. Tile and other surfaces that are made of or replicate natural materials are an essential tool for creating a landscape-like space. It’s also important for a naturalistic interior to takes its cues from the surrounding landscape.
For a home or other building located in a forest setting, for example, Porcelanosa’s wood look collections marry the warmth of hardwood planks to the performance of porcelain. The PAR-KER® collection imitates flooring lumber particularly well, capturing its grain and knots in minute detail. For more visual drama, accent walls covered in Porcelanosa’s wood mosaics, including Wood Cubes, use real oak, maple, teak, and other species to sculptural effect.
In a similar vein, Porcelanosa’s natural stone and stone-lookalike products echo a boulder or outcropping that may be standing outside one’s window. Airslate slabs are available in relatively uniform grays, and commercial designers will doubly appreciate the large-format and ultra-thin Airslate panel’s ability to adhere to curves.
For visually exciting flat surfaces, Delhi Natural Home and Kathmandu Pulido natural stone tiles feature dramatic striping and speckling.
In addition, XTONE products like Alpi Verde, Emerald Green, and Macauba Blue offer a wide range of color options, as well as the veining that is most often associated with natural marble.
For a space whose rocky setting boasts a more earth-toned color palette, Vetri tiles appear like stone flecked with lichen.
In an ideal biophilic design, individual interior elements do not only relate to the exterior landscape, but also to one another. To quote Kellert again, “a single or isolated occurrence of nature” does not qualify as a biophilic design. Rather, a space must have multiple features that replicate or evoke the local setting. To complement wood and stone surfaces with more literal depictions of nature, the Augusta, Calatea, and Ficus patterns within Porcelanosa’s new Skins wallpaper collection are patterned after philodendron, calathea, and ficus leaves.
Porcelanosa also has bathroom products that put natural elements within touchable, everyday reach. The Faces freestanding washbasin is a statement piece that is made entirely of stone and features a striking geometric design. Meanwhile, the Minim vanity blends elements from the natural world, thanks to an integrated stone sink combined with matching stone or wood cabinets that are available in four configurations.
Biophilic design takes different forms across different project types and places, but they are uniformly feel-good spaces that will have you thinking summery thoughts all year round.
All items mention in this article are available for order at Fontile. Contact us and let one of our sales reps help with your project.