Biophilic moodboards: the benefits of “risky” interiors.

Image for post
Image for post

The third category of biophilic design patterns — Nature of the Space — aims at recreating the layout of natural landscapes indoors.

It is no surprise that nature is filled with risky situations and environments, but can we say they bring positive feelings? And even so, how does this fit in interior design?

Actually risk design features are among the most Instagrammable and sit on top of our Pinterest boards.
The question is: why is it so?

This is what we’ll explore in this month’s episode of Biophilic Moodboards.
So let’s dive into the fascinating relationship between risk and interior design.

Image for post
Image for post
Credits (from top left): DMD, Spasm Design — Photo by Photographix, Lago.

Risk &biophilic design

In order to fully support our wellbeing, interiors need to be relaxing or stimulating according to the situation.
If a natural bathroom or a cozy corner call for a soothing ambiance, a stimulating environment will be much more appropriate when creativity is required (like in office design) or just to create a compelling interior.

This is exactly where risk features come into play, as they help to make an atmosphere intriguing and inspiring.
But not just any type of risk will work…

How does risk benefit our wellbeing?

Risk is a broad concept and what is in scope for biophilic design is a balanced combination of perceived risk and a rational knowledge of safety. In practice, this refers to situations that seem risky while being practically safe.

Such feelings of apparent risk have been connected with dopamine release in our brain *. And a short dose of dopamine can stimulate motivation, memory and problem solving, all precious assets when trying to be creative!

On top of this, risk design features are among the most spectacular ones. They leave people surprised and amazed, achieving what we would commonly call a wow factor. And this sense of excitement is also key to make an interior engaging!

Image for post
Image for post
Credit: Hanging Gardens of Bali (via Instagram)

Risk in interior design

There exist several ways of introducing risk in interiors. Essentially, it all boils down to playing with shapes, materials and perspectives to create the perception of risk while keeping everything safe.

One widely-used risk feature is an infinity pool. Despite being practically safe, infinity pools do cause a little shiver at first! Similarly, pools with a glass bottom are also very effective in conveying a perception of risk.

Image for post
Image for post
Credit: Hanging Gardens of Bali (via Instagram)
Image for post
Image for post
Credit: Wiel Arets Architects

More in general, clear glass is a good choice when creating a risk feature.
Glass makes things visually disappear creating a sense of perceived risk while still being structurally sound.
Examples go from a glass staircase banister to glass floors and furniture legs.
Full-height windows are also a favourite feature in biophilic design. Besides creating a sense of risk (especially when located on higher floors), they break the box and connect the interior with the outdoor space in a seamless way.

Image for post
Image for post
Credit: Leicht USA (via Houzz)
Image for post
Image for post
Credit: Lago
Image for post
Image for post
Credit: Lago (via Instagram)

Suspended elements are also an idea to add an element of risk in interiors as they give a sensation of instability.

Image for post
Image for post
Credit: Austin Maynard Architects
Image for post
Image for post
Credit: DMD

Other seemingly unstable examples are cantilevered features like floating mezzanines, staircases or even entire rooms!

Image for post
Image for post
Credit: Splyce Design (via Houzz). Photo by Ivan Hunter.
Image for post
Image for post
Credit: Spasm Design. Photo by Photographix.
Image for post
Image for post
Credit: Sawamura Masahiko (via Instagram)

Playing safe with risk

Risk features are clearly not suitable for all situations nor for everybody. But there is one instance of risk that is less extreme yet equally effective: the risk of getting wet.

A good example of it would be a floating pathway across a water pond.

Image for post
Image for post
Credit: Iván Andrés Quizhp (via ArchDaily). Photo by Sebastián Crespo.

Or also, would you say that falling right into the water from a hammock is enough of a risk? Well, the answer is going to be highly personal. But for sure I would not complain if I had a similar feature in my home!

Image for post
Image for post
Credit: Enrique Cabrera (via Archilovers). Photo by Tamara Uribe.

Risk features are one way of imitating natural layouts. Together with prospect, refuge and mystery, they can transform a space from uninteresting to highly stimulating and engaging!

Originally published at https://dfordesign.style on August 5, 2019.

Written by

Interior designer+Content creator on a mission: making interiors good for wellbeing (biophilic design) & our planet. My entire blog: https://dfordesign.style

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store