Big this summer: biophilia, meaning ‘love of nature’
HAPPINESS, IT SEEMS, begins at home. A recent survey by the Happiness Research Institute, commissioned by the homeware company Kingfisher, showed that your home accounts for 15 per cent of your total happiness (way above your salary, which is apparently responsible for just six per cent). And your level of contentedness is not necessarily linked to its size, or how many rooms you have.
The way you arrange and decorate your interior can clearly affect how you feel: if you like things to be tidy, clutter will make you feel anxious; and the colours you choose, whether calming neutrals or cheerful brights, can change your mood when you open the front door.
Linked to this is the concept of biophilia – meaning ‘love of nature’ – a term coined in the 1980s by the biologist Edward O Wilson, who observed ‘the connections that human beings subconsciously seek with the rest of life’. In design terms, it means bringing the outside in, to enhance our overall well-being.
At this time of year, it’s not difficult to feel at one with nature: windows are open, interiors are flooded with natural light, and gardens are in bloom. But how do you maintain it year-round?
The interior designer Oliver Heath is a specialist in biophilic design, and is currently working with Habitat . According to Heath, incorporating biophilic elements (such as improving light, air circulation and views of nature) can reduce stress and blood pressure, and heighten feelings of positivity. The Happiness Research Institute’s findings also suggest it can aid concentration, increasing productivity by eight per cent (useful to know if you’re furnishing a home office), and, in a hospital setting, can cut use of pain medication by 22 per cent.
It’s also an approach that chimes with the current focus on sustainability: choosing furniture made from natural materials such as wood, rattan and stone are better for the planet, too. Dotting some plants around is the most obvious way of bringing the outside in; but natural colours, textures and patterns can also help us feel more relaxed.
Whether or not you have an outdoorsy lifestyle, it’s an approach that can help you connect with nature – and feel better for it.
Turn the page for our pick of summer’s nature-inspired homewares
Clockwise from top Feliz solid-oak and rattan dining set, £2,105; Feliz solid-oak sideboard, £995; part of the Andalucia range, from £6, all from Habitat (habitat.co.uk)