Spir­i­tual home

Big this sum­mer: bio­philia, mean­ing ‘love of na­ture’

The Daily Telegraph - Telegraph Magazine - - The Cut House Style - Jes­sica Doyle

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)

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