Bring the Outdoors In

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Ecuadorian environmentalist and indigenous Waorani woman Nemonte Nenquimo helped protect 500,000 acres of her ancestral home in the Amazonian rainforest from oil extraction. Although we can’t all live in a rainforest as spectacular as Nenquimo’s, we can still connect deeply with nature in our own homes, and by utilizing principles of biophilic interior design, we can feel more vital and in touch with Mother Earth.

The term biophilia means “the love of living things” in ancient Greek. In modern interior design and architecture, it refers to merging artistry, psychology, and biology to create living ecosystems inside that reflect the outer world. Think of it as forest bathing in your own home. By connecting with our natural world, we carry a sense of joy and calm into our daily living space.

From indoor gardens to cascading waterfalls of light, designers bring a sense of the outside world in. This includes bamboo finishes, tropical plants, water elements, and other earthy textures. Biophilia was popularized by American biologist Edward O. Wilson during the 1980s in reaction to unhealthy urbanization. Although Frank Lloyd Wright never used the term, he certainly incorporated many of its precepts into his architecture at Fallingwater and elsewhere.

Natural elements foster a sense of wonder and even inspire creativity. Soft lighting enhances our moods. Neurodiverse family members, a term coined in the 1970s for people whose minds process information differently, such as those with autism, ADHD, dyslexia, and beyond, can greatly benefit from these types of environments. They reduce sensory overload, which can be especially troubling to those on the autism spectrum.  

Think outside the box. How about a dining table with an herb garden growing in the center? Plant a wall of trees in your living room. Simply add more eco-friendly elements—such as clay, cork, wood, or rattan—or calming blues and greens to enhance your quality of life. Create your own mini rainforest, minus the mosquitoes. The possibilities are as endless as the moonlit sky.