How do interior design, wellbeing and nature relate?

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Biophilic design aims at improving human wellbeing through design. And it does so by creating interiors that take inspiration from features of the natural world that have proven to be beneficial to us.

But how exactly do interior design, wellbeing and nature relate?
This is the question behind biophilic design, and we’re going to tackle it in this month’s episode of Biophilic Moodboards.

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Credits (from top left): Matthew Smith, @honkainkeskella (via Instagram), Marion Michele

Wellbeing & nature

Let’s take it from afar…what is wellbeing?
The dictionary defines it as

a state characterized by health, happiness, and prosperity.

In other words, wellbeing is that desirable condition where we thrive (prosperity) both physically (health) and mentally (happiness).

Now one could ask, what is the link between wellbeing and nature?
Actually, spending time in contact with nature has proven to affect our bodies and minds in many ways.
One could write a book exploring them all in depth, but here are some examples:

  • natural light supplies our bodies with vitamin D (which helps preventing several diseases including obesity, diabetes, hypertension, depression and neuro-degenerative diseases*)
  • exposure to nature decreases anxiety and increases memory
  • spending time in nature improves creativity and problem solving
  • nature acts as mood booster and — since natural landscapes are compelling to our senses — they can effectively distract us from negative thoughts.
  • observing nature makes us feel part of something bigger and this has numerous positive effects. It helps us put our concerns in perspective, stimulates a positive mindset and a general sense of gratitude and even makes us more prone to help each other!
  • certain plants act as natural air purifiers

These are just some of the findings that connect health with nature. But they’re enough to conclude that staying in contact with the natural world can do a lot for our overall wellbeing, both physically and mentally!

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Credit: Spasm Design. Photo by Photographix.

Interior design & wellbeing

Now onto the next big question: can interior design influence wellbeing?

The answer is a sound yes! Sure, interior design cannot treat illnesses, but it can contribute to preserving and improving our physical and mental health.


A healthy interior design is one that takes good care of:

  • Indoor air quality
    Indoor air is often more polluted than the outdoor one. In particular, it is stuffed with harmful VOCs, that are released by building materials, glues, cleaning & air freshening products, burning reactions (like wood stoves, candles and incenses) etc.
  • Lighting
    The way we function is very much influenced by light: we’re awake during the day and sleepy when the dark comes. This innate biological clock is called circadian rhythm and it’s at the base of our overall wellbeing.
    Therefore, artificial lighting shouldn’t just provide enough light to allow us to see. It should also follow our natural cycle by adapting both temperature and intensity of light to the time of day. This wellbeing-oriented approach to light is called Human Centric Lighting, and its importance is being more and more recognized in the design industry. It has even been one of the 5 main lighting innovations presented at Euroluce 2019!
  • Ergonomics and movement
    The word ergonomics refers to the positions we assume while we sit, stand or lay down, and interior design can help us to assume healthy positions. A careful space layout can even invite people to move around and explore the space. Because — as they say — sitting is the new smoking.
  • Thermal comfort
    A space that is too hot or too cold can affect our mood and productivity. The definition of thermal comfort is very personal, but it is generally important to achieve it through appropriate temperature & air variations.
  • Acoustic comfort
    Ensuring the best possible acoustic comfort in a space goes all the way from avoiding unpleasant echoes to creating silent areas where needed — namely what biophilic design would call refuge areas
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Credit: SuperLimão Studio. Photo by Escanhuela Photo.


The impact of interior design on mental wellbeing can be summarized in that feeling good sensation we all have felt at least once.

This can translate differently for different people, but it always includes things like an overall welcoming feeling and dedicated spaces for different activities. One of these should always be a space to relax, which could even turn into a meditation corner.

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Credit: Sergey Makhno

Interior design & nature

Pulling everything together:

  • Interior design can influence our physical and mental wellbeing
  • Nature has evident positive effects on our health.

So it actually makes perfect sense to take nature as a design inspiration, because this can really unveil interiors’ wellbeing potential in full!

But taking nature as a design inspiration means way more than just adding a few indoor plants, and here is where biophilic design comes into play.

Nature is a rich ensemble of colours, textures, smells, temperature variations, space configurations and sensations that all impact the way we feel.

Biophilic design looks at nature in its entirety and — from space planning to the selection of materials — it reproduces indoors the many elements of nature that are beneficial to our wellbeing.

This is what makes biophilic interiors not only beautiful, but also engaging and ultimately healthy!

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Credit: Marmol Radzine

If you want to know more about biophilic design, you can explore its pillars:

* Sources

Originally published at on September 6, 2019.

Written by

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

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