We Need Healthy Interior Spaces

Are you tired of the starkness of the minimalist trend? Does grandma’s 1970’s colorful and cluttered knick-knack décor have your head disarrayed? Then you are going to like the new design trend of Biophilic Design, which is melding nature with indoor spaces. 

Google Tel Aviv biophilic design (Office Snapshots)

Biophilia Definition via Green Plants for Green Buildings “We believe in biophilia. Biophilia is the instinctive bond between human beings and other living organisms and living systems. Research suggests that buildings that contain features of preferred natural environments will be more supportive of human well-being and performance than those that do not contain these features.”

One main factor for this healthy natural design trend becoming popular is the Covid pandemic, this has increased the popularity of Biophilic Design within common areas, public spaces, workspaces, and residences. People are working remotely more and creating a peaceful space in common areas of café’s, libraries and homes offices have become the spaces we spend the most time in. It makes sense to design these spaces more inviting, comfortable, and healthy.

What is Biophilic Design?

Biophilia is defined as the inherent human inclination to affiliate with nature. Biophilic design, an extension of biophilia, incorporates natural materials, natural light, vegetation, nature views and other experiences of the natural world into our modern environment.

Biophilic design has become more popular and evident since the Covid pandemic, it was once of lesser interest has grown into an entire movement that aspires to transform our interiors by combining nature and natural elements into our interior environments.  

Design specialists suggest by adding several live houseplants and trees to a space will create a calming, balanced atmosphere, live plants also help filter toxins from the air. If house plants are not for you, painting natural shades of green, blue and neutrals is also a way to incorporate biophilic design. 

Another idea is to place furniture close, or facing windows as you view nature, large windows will increase the light in a room, thus melding your interior with nature, such as the sky and trees. Natural shapes will incorporate Biophilic Design into spaces with pieces of artwork showcasing ocean waves, trees, and flowers. Larger design examples are sofas, tables, and storage pieces with shapes with smooth lines (opposed to angular) representing tree branches, rolling hills or clouds in the sky. Here are additional components to help transform spaces to have more Biophilic Design elements in them. 

“It’s a movement, not a trend” By Shivani Vora When it comes to new homes and residential developments, biophilic design is quickly gaining traction. It’s a style that connects homeowners to nature with elements such as indoor plants and fountains, terraces, and gardens. Views of the ocean, mountains, and other outdoor landscapes also figure in. “Biophilic design is a movement today, not a trend,” says the celebrated designer Clodagh who has worked on biophilic-focused projects for the last two decades.

Principles of Biophilic Design

  • Environmental features: Incorporating well-recognized characteristics of the natural world into the built environment: color, water, air, sunlight, plants, animals, and natural materials and landscapes.
  • Organic natural shapes: Plants, animal, and shell patterns, shapes resisting straight lines and right angles, arches and vaults and domes, and simulation of natural elements incorporated into art, architecture, design.
  • Natural motifs: Altering the sensory experience of a space, change, and transitions; complimentary
    contrasts, the relationship between balance and tension.
  • Light and space: Understanding how, and why humans react to light such as warm, cool, shaped, filtered, diffused, etc., informs how to use it. The same relates to differing kinds of spaces: Shaped,
    harmonious, jarring, light and dark.
  • Geo-based references: The importance a of place is tied to meaning, Historical, social, geographic, cultural, and ecological.

Benefits of Biophilic Design

Biophilia is more than just a perspective, biophilic design has been found to:

  • Live plants increase oxygen 
  • Increase mood & feeling of well-being
  • Improve productivity
  • Reduced stress levels
  • Improve health
  • Mental restoration & reduced fatigue

Additional Resources

Portable Living Green Walls

Portable living green walls are the answer for small spaces that cannot hold a full scope living green wall. Your local plantscape company will have a design team that will custom design portable living green and floral walls for any type of space, from professional offices to residential homes.

Open or free flowing design style of today’s offices are not a trend, they are here to stay, at least until the next trend approaches. The style does lend itself to benefits such encouraging better collaboration among workers that leads to more creativity and company spirit.

Open spaces do have disadvantages, one being that the acoustics are poor, not to mention privacy issues. Enter portable living walls! You will have your choice to have a stationary wall or one that is easily portable that is on wheels. We have shown some examples below of situations that portable walls can be an asset within a space such as dividing work stations from a conference table and one that adds color and style to the decor.

Advantages of living green walls:
1. Improves Air Quality
2. Reduces Airborne Dust
3. Is a Noise Reducer
4. Stabilize Moisture Levels
5. Reduces Carbon Dioxide Levels

This portable living green wall has a variety of green plants with different color tones, textures and leaf sizes to add interest, the purple plants are bromeliads.

Key benefits of a Green Wall:

Improved Indoor Air Quality – Air that has been circulated throughout a building with a strategically placed green wall (such as near an air intake) will be cleaner than that on an uncovered building. The presence of vegetation indoors will have the same effect. These processes remove airborne pollutants such as toluene, ethyl benzene, xylene, and other volatile organic compounds.

Noise Reduction – The living plant surface provided by greenery such as moss walls and green walls will block high frequency sounds, and when constructed with a substrate or growing medium support can also block low-frequency noises.
Value in Marketplace – Green buildings, products, and services now possess a competitive edge in the marketplace.

Higher Standard of Health and Well-Being – Buildings that feature and promote Biophilia have been documented as having a greater positive human health impact than those without. Studies have shown that visual access to natural settings leads to increased job satisfaction and productivity and post-operative recovery rates in medical facilities.

Here you see portable living green wall dividing a conference area from personal desks in an open office setting.
A portable living wall designed with red Antherium brightens up an industrial office space. The living wall can be moved to different areas of the open space to divide and areas.

Your local plantscape company can assist you with your questions pertaining to placement, design and to installation a portable living green wall. You can read more about buildings and offices going green in The Wall Street Journal and Green Plants for Green Buildings.

The Story of Interior Plants

Horticulturist Joelle Steele wrote a very extensive article on the history of interior plants. It’s an interesting history and we’ve gathered a synopsis of the article for our readers. To read the original article and learn more about the people that built the industry, please read the entire article here.

According to the article, people have been using plants and flowers to decorate their homes and their bodies since prehistoric times. In the tombs of Egyptians and other early civilizations dated back to over 3,000 years ago, images of potted plants were carved on the walls. Terra cotta pots were found in the ruins of Pompeii. These are first recorded proof that humans created green spaces to decorate their surroundings and make them pleasant to enjoy.

medieval gardenIn Medieval times, gardens were grown to produce fruits, vegetables and herbs for medicinal and culinary purposes. House plants didn’t see their revival until the 1600s when greenhouses appeared on the scene in the homes of the wealthy. The Palace of Versailles had an orangery with over 1,200 citrus trees and hundreds of plants. In the 1700s, the first hothouse for tropical plants was build in the U.S. and quickly became big business. By the mid-1800s foliage was used indoors of the homes of the wealthy, and (as Joelle says), “even the lowliest parlor had at least one big splashy plant.”

An early pioneer in the floral industry was Julius Roehrs who came from Germany to settle in New Jersey, leading to its nickname as the Garden State. After a ban was placed on the importation of plants grown in soil, tissue culture would become widely used in farm crops and became the future of interior landscaping.

In the 20th century, the electric light and central heating made growing plants indoors more difficult and plant use declined. But during the Great Depression of the 1930s houseplants experienced a revival in the form of dish gardens. Interior landscaping got a second wind in the 1940s when New York City downtown buildings and restaurants added potted plants and flowers to their interiors.

indoor gardensIn the 1970s, the interior landscaping industry took off. The theory that humans are genetically programmed to connect with plants was accepted. Everyone wanted plants in their homes and offices. Macramé plant hangars were everywhere! It was also when the EPA revealed construction materials could be carcinogenic, and when NASA scientists proved that plants can control environmental pollution.

By the 1980s we knew that indoor spaces with plants had higher comfort ratings. Enter: irrigation and self-watering plantscapes. The recession of the mid-1900s shrunk the industry as small companies closed or merged with others. But the science of plants and their relationship with humans had been established, and by the end of the 20th century the industry entered a new era.

living buildingIn the 21st century, green walls (also known as living walls) are bringing urban gardens to homes, offices, malls, and restaurants. With today’s technology, entire high-rises can become vertical gardens. Water systems are designed to reuse and/or recirculate water. Green materials are being used for potting and fibrous material instead of soil surround roots. The possibilities for pollution-fighting, human friendly plants is endless and the future bright for the interior landscape industry.

Plantique and AmericanHort

Who is AmericanHort? It’s an association of Americans in the plant business—from florists and garden centers, to landscapers and industry suppliers and service providers, to greenhouses and interior plantscapers—like us!

AmericanHort logoIn 2014, the American Nursery & Landscape Association (ANLA) and the Association of Horticultural Professions (OFA) consolidated to become AmericanHort. And it wasn’t just to have a snappier name. Not at all. With the consolidation came a more efficient organization to serve the entire horticulture industry including plant breeders, plant wholesalers, even government officials, students, educators and researchers.

How does AmericanHort benefit our customers?

To live up to our customer service standard, we need consistent industry knowledge and education. Through AmericanHort we benefit from research and continuing education on our industry and through the initiatives they offer, like Grow Wise, Bee Smart, and America in Bloom.

Plantique is committed to be the best interior plantscape provider in the Palm Beaches and surrounding counties. AmericanHort helps us share ideas and solutions within our industry and become better stewards to the earth and to our customers.