Biophilic Design

On tablescapes, in kitchens and baths, garden and great rooms, green seems to be having a moment.

Photo courtesy of marvin Windows and Doors

Extensive windows and doors link to greenery outside and bring nature inside.

©istockphoto.com / martinwimmer

Photo JORDAN STEAD / Amazon

Not too long ago, it was difficult to spy even a vestige of green in a room. Today, it’s almost impossible to find new interior scheme without a spark of green. “We’re seeing emerald green used on everything from walls to cabinetry to tile and even lighting,” observes Sue Wadden, director of color marketing at Sherwin-Williams.

Green hues, especially deep vibrant shades, seem to be everywhere along with living greenery and plants. But rather than a fleeting color preference, the passion for green might also be the first sprouts, indications of a more transformative movement — biophilic design — edging into residential design and architecture.

Biophilia, according to consultants Terrapin Bright Green, refers to humankind’s innate biological connection with nature. Although social psychologist Eric Fromm first coined the phrase “biophilia,” the concept wasn’t popularized until the 1980s when biologist Edward O. Wilson took up the mantle. Biophilic design introduces natural elements, organic forms, light and water into the built environment. Research shows integrating natural elements increases productivity, enhances creativity and improves mental health. “We’re getting evidence-based design, especially in the healthcare industry, that just by having a view of the outside a patient recovers quicker and requires less medication and attention after surgery,” observes Miami designer B. Pila.

“The use of green in home interiors is picking up steam,” explains Stephanie Pierce, director of design for MasterBrand Cabinets. “There are a variety of shades cropping up today, particularly in the kitchen and bath from deep emeralds to soft sages and dark ivies. Deep, moody hues are making a bold impact on these spaces. The effect is as cozy as a warm blanket.”

“Touches of rich, verdant green can make it feel as though you’ve escaped to the outdoors and are soaking up the invigorating effects of nature — without even leaving your home,” shares Wadden.

“With the growing interest in wellbeing in all aspects of our lives, including the home, people are using nature-inspired lush greens to bring comfort into spaces,” explains Christine Marvin, director of corporate strategy and design at Marvin Windows and Doors. “Emerald green is a bold color that perfectly balances glamour with calmness, evoking a sense of relaxation and inspiration.”


Three spherical conservatories forested with more than 40,000 plants and trees allow Amazon employees to work while surrounded by nature.

Photo courtesy of sherwin-williams

Green, whether an accent or main course, is a mainstay on design menus.

Until recently, biophilic principles were utilized primarily in commercial structures, and the inclusion of nature — living plants, park-like oases, organic forms, natural materials including wood and stone, water and light — is revamping corporate settings including Amazon, Apple and Google. Last year, Amazon’s long-awaited biophilic project, The Spheres, opened on the site of its original headquarters. The three glass and steel domes are forested with more than 40,000 plants. Along with plants and a four-story-tall green wall, there are waterfalls, a river, walkways and meeting spaces. Hotels and other commercial spaces are implementing biophilic design practices but with more modest expressions.

For residential buildings, the addition of natural elements and connections with the outside has been an ongoing evolution, partially in response to consumer attitudes rather than a dedication to biophilia. Designers are just catching on. “Consumers are more educated in wanting healthier lifestyle choices,” says Angela Harris, creative director and principal of TRIO, an award-winning interior design firm in Denver.

Current residential design merges indoors and out, organic and humanmade, using visual and real connections. The integration of outdoor spaces is a response to consumer lifestyle demands, but the end result potentially delivers the cognitive, psychological and physiological benefits biophilia advocates tout.

“We’ve noticed an increase in demand for bigger windows over the past five years, as more people want to feel connected to the world around us while we’re indoors,” comments Marvin. “In a world that’s become fast paced and where our living and workspaces are merging, letting light in allows us to feel alive and connected to space outside our homes. Incorporating large windows into the home plays a significant role in achieving this ‘outdoors in’ feel and connecting to nature. We’re also seeing a pull towards large window walls, or many windows that are mulled together to create a wall of light that heightens the experience of light in a home.”

It may seem biophilia is just another quick moving fad, but more than one organization is promoting the concept and actively formulating certifications for buildings under the auspices of groups such as the International Living Future Institute, a Seattle-based nonprofit that encourages sustainable practices and wellness. In 2016, a cadre of architects, builders and researchers formed the Biophilic Design Initiative to further the movement. Biophilia is also part of the U.S. Green Building Council’s WELL Building Standard.

Whether or not biophilia will exert a long-term influence on design remains to be seen, but there is a good chance wellness and nature will be an important aspect of design’s new normal.

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It’s time to start thinking about resolutions. The new year is the perfect time to make changes and create a fresh perspective. Follow these 3 tips from Rebecca Snowden, Interior Style Advisor at Furniture Choice, for more mindful living in the new year. 

Everything is fast, easy and digital, yet natural instinct pushes us to disconnect and slow down to regain our sense and quality of life.

1. Start with a clean and calm neutral palette

Begin the year refreshed and rejuvenated with the help of a home environment that focuses on living well.

Start by introducing a quality of softness into the home, coupled with interior design that’s comforting and inviting. “Let the intention of creating a clean and soothing ambiance guide your design decisions,” advises Rebecca. “Ultimately, the goal is to create a personal haven you’ll love going home to relax in.”

Make it a priority to get plenty of good quality sleep. In the bedroom, an oatmeal fabric bed presents the perfect starting point in a space meant for restful slumber. Introduce neutrals in varying tones for interest and depth. Safe, perennial hues to try to include white, soft grey and the recently popular greige.

Select comfortable bedding with minimal prints to focus on creating an uncluttered, restful environment. Where possible, go with furniture that features curves and organic lines instead of sharp, straight edges.

2.  Nature is nurturing

Nothing relaxes the mind more than being surrounded by nature; particularly, plants. Start the year on a green note by maximizing on the benefits of having indoor plants. Choose a mix of large and small greenery and varieties that help clean the air. Leafy, trailing plants also inject a little wildness to create a tropical-inspired ambiance.

Besides making the air fresher, their lush green color is soothing on the eyes after a long day of working with screens.

To continue the natural theme, pick furnishings made with materials like wood, rattan, or clay. “The warmth and rawness of their surfaces contribute to a design that has a soothing, back to nature vibe,” says Rebecca.

3. Dedicate a corner for conscious relaxation

As a reminder to make wellbeing a priority for the year ahead, allocate a corner that’s dedicated to relaxation. “A little nook will do; you’ll only need enough space to practice your preferred stretches,” says Rebecca. For meditation and stretching exercises, fit it out with a yoga mat or thick rug. “And if you have a work desk at home, it’s a good idea to carve out a zen zone within the same room for quick stretch breaks.”

Maintaining the same neutral palette, style the space in light hues, and include plenty of plants. Another factor to consider is the accessibility of natural daylight, as it can help reset a confused circadian rhythm. A wellness-inspired space that embraces disconnecting and being present will likely become a favorite spot in the home.

Photos courtesy of Furniture Choice Ltd

Unique Homes sat down with the owner of Firefeatures, Elena Colombo, a sculptor whose biggest inspiration is nature, to discuss how this inspiration shines through in her one-of-a-kind designs.

Was there a particular moment when you knew you wanted to be an artist?

I believe I always knew I was an artist and designer — from the time I was a toddler, I was always making something. Making flower necklaces, building dollhouse furniture, making a background painting for my fish tank, making mobiles, etc. I studied architectural drafting in grade school and high school and went on to study art history and fine arts in college. Art has been with me since I was born.

I want to be clear; I’m not a fine artist in the true sense of the word. My art is not solely for art’s sake. I do not make things that are purely for looking at and pleasing the viewer, though that is integral to their success. I design sculptural yet functional gas appliances. I call it “art that works.” Everything I have done in my life for work and pleasure has been to put an idea or feeling into visual form. 

My father was a builder and contractor while my mother was a naturalist and placemaker. They both built/created places where people and families could thrive, whether it was building a library, planting a garden, or choosing a comfortable yet beautiful chair to sit and read in. I grew up in a nurturing environment where we were encouraged to create and solve problems. I want my work to create a beautiful place where people gather to commune with each other and fire is the medium — and it’s second to none in that regard.

 

How would you describe your style?

I hope, at its best, it is a clear abstraction of nature. Because I make a product that is specifically a gas appliance, I am bound by requirements and restrictions that pure fine art is not. The form follows function in my case, so the style has to be clear, pure, and functional.

How has your style changed over the years?

It’s gotten more focused, so I imagine it’s become more minimalist.

If you had to describe your works in three words, what would they be?

Clear, pure, and functional.

 

How does fire influence your projects?

It is the thing for which I create. My work is essentially a vessel to contain the fire and allow it to burn safely. The shape of the vessel can dictate how the fire moves, or the movement of the fire can dictate the shape of the vessel. The bowl was my first choice to hold fire as it is the simplest shape, and allows the fire to be the star.

How do you begin a project?

With a small quick sketch on paper, then translate it into 3 dimensions with Nic Spitler, our Head of Design. We work in Rhino which is a 3D modeling program and a very lithe program. It allows you to create, change and morph easily as you work out the ideas. I couldn’t do it without Nic — he’s extremely fluid with Rhino and our instincts are similar.

What is your favorite project and why?

The Bethlehem Bridge Project. It was a commission awarded by ArtsQuest and the National Endowment for the Arts in response to an RFQ for the Bethlehem placemaking initiative. And I just feel like I got it right. I am proud of it and it functions for the people of Bethlehem and for visitors from around the world.

What is your dream project?

A large-scale civic project in Manhattan perhaps, and to get further into design for end of life memorials and reliquaries. 

Can you tell us what you’re working on right now?

Right now are two big jobs with multiple fireplaces, both interior and exterior, for 2 residences, one in Southampton and one in Greenwich, CT. The Southampton house will have a series of cast bronze pieces I’m really excited about — one has a log cradle made from a singular piece of tree bark we cast in bronze, with an entire driftwood looking surround cast in concrete. It’s an intricate mold process we will be beginning in the new year.

 

What is the biggest challenge when it comes to sculpting?

Coming up with a good idea and then executing it!

Actually, sometimes it’s just moving these heavy objects around — you tend to forget about that when you’re in the creative process — moving big metal things encompasses a lot of shipping and installation details you have to consider when designing the piece.

 

https://www.firefeatures.com/

Photos courtesy of c/o Firefeatures

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For those who are looking to find more storage for their clothes and accessories, or those who simply want to elevate the style of their home, look toward making the dream walk-in closet. Not only can it be practical by offering ample storage, but it can also be a reflection of your style, so don’t forget to make it yours. Here’s how:

1. Sleek, Organized Design

When it’s completely organized, having all your clothes on display can add vibrant color and a beautiful composition to your walk-in closet. But practically, it can be a challenge to keep the storage space that organized all the time. So instead, look toward stained cabinets with a matte finish. Use gold to add a pop of color and a simple design for a sleek finish.

Photo courtesy of LUXXU Home

Photo courtesy of LUXXU Home

Photo courtesy of PullCast

Photo courtesy of Brabbu Designs

2. Not Just a Closet (seating, too!)

When you have the space, add in comfortable seating as well. Not only does it elevate the luxury-end of the design, but it functions well when changing or putting on shoes. Add a comfortable bench or chair for the same effect.

3. Effortless Impact

When designing a walk-in closet, there’s one word that’s a must: effortless. Whether it’s more monochrome or vibrant in color or more spacious or closed off, let the room be yours. Let it reflect your personal taste — both in fashion and design.

Photo courtesy of Chaplins Furniture

As the first impression a visitor receives, the front door is arguably one of the most important pieces of your home. Whenever you’re rushing to get out the door, walking back in from a long day or inviting guests in, the front door should be a reflection of you and your style.

For a bolder style, look toward a deep blue colored door like this. The clean lines and bold colors are sure to turn heads. Add floor-to-ceiling glass panels on the sides to create a sleek and stylish look. 

Photo courtesy of Urban Front

Photo courtesy of Urban Front

The glass around this front door also works to bring a modern flair. Both doors are conversation pieces for the home, inviting you and your guests in. 

Photo courtesy of John Cullen Lighting

For a more comfortable and warm approach, look toward different materials and textures. This rustic wooden door establishes an inviting atmosphere, and the dramatic lights add a striking feature. The distinctly modern approach paired with the rustic wood creates the perfect balance.

Another way to find a door with a more relaxed style is in its colors and simple design. The recessed doorway draws attention to the simplicity of this home. The light fixtures and the paneling complement each other on their simplicity. Meanwhile, the neutral colors brighten the exterior on a sunny day and complement the hues on a rainy day, too. This stoop is sure to invite you in.

Photo courtesy of Garden Trading

Brick walls, although historically having a more industrial style, have become a trend in luxury apartments and homes. The rustic appearance, regardless of the colors, shapes or textures, can add a beautiful backdrop to any room.

For a more rustic and historical appeal, look toward bricks with unconventional shapes. The individual stones create a unique composition, while the neutral colors add to the realistic style. Pair it with metal counters like the one in this space, or with more wooden finishes for a softer and less industrial design.

Photo courtesy of LisaSarah

Photo courtesy of Chaplins Furniture

When it comes to the industrial design, however, balance is key. This style can be either perfected or overdone with brick walls. Soft fabrics on the furniture, found in this apartment, create the perfect confluence of style and comfort. If the bricks are only on one wall of the room, pair the other walls with large and industrial-style windows. They not only bring in a flood of natural light, but add the finishing touch to the trendy style.

For a softer look that’s still on-trend, look toward colored brick walls. Paint them white or a color that complements the furniture in the room to achieve the perfect design. The white backdrop behind the strikingly blue couch adds a unique touch that isn’t too overbearing. Meanwhile, the green colored brick walls that perfectly match the couch create a unique and eccentric style sure to turn heads.

Photo courtesy of Woodchip and Magnolia

Photo courtesy of Wallsauce

Architects, designers, artists and more often pull inspiration from their surroundings to create unforgettable final products. Tectonic accessories, designed by Rogerseller, were created with the idea of earth’s most enigmatic natural processes — tectonic plate motion — in mind.

A series of floating plates make up the enchanting collection. They can be placed in various planes and axis’ to each other, representative of the plates that make up the Earth’s surface and their dynamic interaction with each other.

An intriguing addition to any bathroom, these elements are undeniably modern, yet pull from an ancient process that began over three billion years ago. The sleek finishes are appealing in both their function and style. These accessories are the perfect detail to finish your space.

The linear design provides a bold signature aesthetic that appears throughout the collection, which is available in a selection of the Rogerseller Natural Elements finishes.

The accessories feature multiple-length towel rails and shelves (with the option of custom tile inserts), a combination shelf and towel rail, angled and straight robe hooks, double or single paper holders with shelves and a vertical heated towel rail that provides greater heating efficiency.

Each rail, shelf and robe hook is of equal height, allowing installation as a continuous linear feature wrapping around the bathroom.
                                                                                                                     Photos courtesy of Rogerseller

Tropical decor is a bold statement that can be difficult to balance. Avoid over-the-top details and learn how to embrace muted accents and elements that elevate a space without making it too whimsical. 

If tropical brings to mind luxurious retreats and dream vacations, you may want to incorporate the look into your home. Here are a few tips for bringing tropical to a high-end level that you’ll love throughout the seasons.

 

Photo courtesy of English Blinds

Bold Wallpaper

Most tropical decor involves a playful wallpaper or large piece of art. There are a variety of quality wallpaper brands that can help create an oasis of color and charm for your space. Have fun with your wallpaper, there are many to choose from and it is the quickest way to transform a space. 

Photo courtesy of  Wallsauce.com

Add Foliage

Tropical prints are just the beginning. If you are looking for an authentic feel and want to avoid a staged look, incorporate real tropical greenery that will play off accents, prints and other details in your decor. A snake plant or peace lily truly capture the tropical feel, yet they are low maintenance and easy to care for. Greenery can also bring out muted tones that might appear in prints. 

Photo courtesy of Mindthegap

Try Traditional 

Fun details can be luxurious. Black and white, monochromatic, or muted prints can still embrace tropical imagery. A palm tree wallpaper or a pink flamingo statute can be toned down in terms of color, allowing more flexibility in your decor. Don’t shy away from traditional items but the balance between just enough and too much is delicate.

Photo courtesy of Brabbu Design Forces

Keep it Neutral

Neutral tones help to balance bright colors and bold shapes that appear in tropical wallpapers and prints. If you’ve decided on a statement wallpaper and you’re worried about overwhelming your senses, it helps to choose natural accents such as wood furniture and flooring. Light grays and white also tone down the intensity of a space. 

Photo courtesy of Essential Home

Mix and Match

If you want to truly embrace the tropical sentiment, be bold and confident with your choices. For an earthy tropical feel, mixing a variety of prints that play off of each other with color palettes that work together will bring your space to life. Mixing and matching prints, designs and elements can come together to create a luxurious balance. 

Photo courtesy of Essential Home

While kitchen backsplashes are known to be composed of simple tiles that blend into the background, interior designers are diversifying them with different materials and bold color palettes. Instead of overlooking backsplashes, the forerunners of the industry are bringing them in the spotlight. Here’s how:

Using bold colors and a unique design makes the backsplash of your kitchen pop, highlighting a beautiful statement area that might otherwise go unnoticed. This whimsical pattern offers can showcase bold colors for an eye-catching design. Mosaic tiles allow for a detailed and one-of-a-kind design. Pair the backsplash with more subtle, neutral-colored cabinets and countertops for a perfect balance between the two styles. 

Photo courtesy of Lime Lace

Photo courtesy of Lime Lace

For a less busy design, look toward simple, geometric tiles with a dash of color. These blue tiles create a beautiful backsplash for a more relaxed style. Simple countertops and cabinets also won’t wash it out, as the bold color adds a subtle yet effective contrast. Both offer a charming addition to the kitchen.

Horizontal slabs are breaking through as one of the latest trends in the industry. Whether the idea is to go more natural looking with a three-dimensional design or the traditional sleek and modern method, this style of backsplash will always be the finishing touch to a room. One color with different shades or multiple colors can change the style it offers. For a more retro look, multiple colors — such as blue, tan and grey — provide a very specific style to the space.

Photo courtesy of Original Style

Photo courtesy of Original Style

For a more Modern Farmhouse design, look toward subway tiles with an intricate yet subtle design. These light blue tiles add a bright color to the room, while incorporating small, intricate design that makes it appear more unique overall. Each tile brings a more comfortable and warm atmosphere to the room. Pair tiles like these with a finished wooden countertop for an even warmer and chic composition.

A recreational, or rec, room can be the perfect space to have fun and enjoy time with others. But recreation can have many different forms. From a game room to a movie theater and so many other possibilities, it can be difficult to find the perfect design and style for you. Here are four steps that’ll help you do so:

1. Assessing the space

 Whenever designing a room from scratch, it’s always a good idea to assess the size and dimensions of the space before anything else. Regardless of the room itself, the concept should always be centered around comfort. The first and foremost approach should be creating an inviting atmosphere for family and friends. Make sure to add ample seating, either spaced out for a larger room or closer together in a room with less space.

 

 

 

2. Finding the Purpose

It’s always crucial to think about the room’s purpose. For a more family-friendly setting, more comfortable seating and a fun atmosphere may work better. For those who appreciate a stronger sense of sophistication, a more refined look may be more suitable. For this style, an antique pool table with a polished finish can do just the trick. Darker walls add a dramatic backdrop to the space, incorporating the style even more so. If you’re a television junkie, a movie theater with ample seating may be more useful. Whichever purpose the room is used for, make sure it’s suits your interests and hobbies.

 

3. Incorporating Your Style

 Alongside the space’s purpose, style is another crucial factor to consider. For a more sleek, modern design, install a flatscreen television to the wall and provide seating with a minimalist decor. Light fixtures should also be taken into account — modern light fixtures can add the perfect touch to finish off the room’s design.

4. Have Fun With It

 The most important aspect of any rec room is to ensure that it serves its purpose, while also keeping a playful vibe. A bold color palette with a variety of textures and decorations can bring the room to life. Add funky decorations and avant-garde furniture to invite creativity into the space. In the end, remember to just have fun with it!

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