biophilic design guide

The low-effort, low-cost biophilic design guide

Ian Mutuli
Updated on
Ian Mutuli

Ian Mutuli

Founder and Managing Editor of Archute. He is also a graduate architect from The University of Nairobi, Kenya.
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A biophilic design includes principles of life and nature in living spaces. The reason? Nature is known to calm and heal. 

Today, we’re able to see an increasing number of establishments with biophilic designs. Greenery is here to stay. 

But taking care of too many plants could be more than a business owner can chew. And that’s where artificial flora takes center stage. 

Artificial Plants: The Low-Effort Staple

Besides the plants, a biophilic design also emphasizes natural light and airiness. Other touches of nature, like textures, natural colors, and even sound could be incorporated into your design. 

But the key to getting your design right is doing it in moderation. And to keep your physical efforts minimal, artificial plants are the way to go. 

These life-like alternatives hold the same benefits as having real plants in your design. But the time for upkeep is drastically cut short. You won’t have to deal with watering, fertilizing, and pruning your plant. 

Artificial plant fixtures that will elevate your biophilic design

1. Plant Wall 

Budget Range: Low-mid budget

Plant walls are a functional element to add to large spaces. If you have an open floor plan, then one way to demarcate areas within the space is with a plant wall. 

A faux bamboo plant wall achieves this purpose effortlessly. The bamboo will not completely block out the light or the sound. But it’s a good way to introduce privacy. 

A bamboo fence fixture works well in restaurants and office spaces. 

Plant wall

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To get textural variation, you can interpose the bamboo trees with another variety. This will bring more variation to the design. 

2. Suspended Plants 

Budget Range: Low budget

Too many planters on the floor might exude a cramped feel to the space. To avoid that, you can suspend plants from the ceiling. 

Ivy and vines work the best for this purpose. And if you’re using artificial plants, you won’t have to worry about water dripping onto your equipment when you’re watering it. 

Suspended Plants

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You can get see-through planters. That way, you can see both the brown of the soil and the green of the plants. This will give you a more accurate feel of nature. 

3. Biophilic Seating 

Budget Range: Medium budget

Tree stumps are the new chairs. 

If you’re designing a cafe or a park, then consider installing fake tree stumps for seating. The realistic stumps are ideal for adding texture to the space. 

At PSL Commercial Silk, you can find tree stumps of many species. This will bring variety to your floor plan. Large tree stumps can also stand in for tables. This, you can include even in workspaces. 

Biophilic Seating

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Since this implementation will combine function with decoration, it’s a great way to cut costs. 

4. Textured Surfaces

Budget Range: Medium budget

The texture is a very important element of biophilic design. Rough tiles and concrete undo everything you’ve done with plants up until this point. The space’s inhabitants must also be able to feel the plants. 

And what better way than with grass flooring. 

We hear you. A cafe patron may not be willing to go barefoot. In this case, you can raise the texture of to walls. 

A grass or moss wall is a fixture that all restaurants have. So to change it up, you can use wispy fake grass plants in your design. These will add a 3-D element that is a lot more tactile than pearl grass. 

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Macrame and woven basket textures are other textured surfaces that can bring variation to your design. 

Other biophilic design ideas

1. Non-Visual Stimuli

Budget Range: Mid-high budget

Nature isn’t only about what you can see. The things you can smell and hear have a massive role in imbibing the calming aura that biophilia promises. 

The cheapest way to include this in your design is with scent diffusers. Depending on the size of your space, you may need multiple diffusers to make a dent. 

Lavender and rosemary are some of the most calming scents. Use the scents alternatively. Or else, your brain will get accustomed to the smell, and it’ll no longer have the same effect. 

Auditory stimulus is also another element you can include in your design. One of the most popular sound elements is flowing water. Cafes, malls, and colleges often include water fountains in their landscaping design

In a workspace, which is likely to have less ambient noise, fixtures like chimes will have a great effect.

2. Lighting 

Budget Range: Low-mid budget

The intensity of lighting decides the mood of a space. Bright white light is typically chosen for workspaces. This helps improve mood and thus, productivity. 

Cafes and restaurants can play around with lighting to establish the mood. 

Along with this, you can also experiment with shadows and casts to mimic a natural location. Rainforest-themed restaurants typically have a foliage cover and have their lighting fixtures over the foliage. This will cast shadows on the diners mimicking a real forest setting. 

Similarly, you can adjust the light and shadow to achieve the theme you want. 

3. Wallpapers

Budget Range: Low budget

The texture isn’t just about what you can feel. Visual texture is a large element of biophilic designs. And wallpapering surfaces is a very cheap way to do this. 

Think beyond just the wall. Despite the name, wallpaper is adhesive to surfaces beyond the wall. You can apply wallpaper with nature-centric patterns on desks and tables. 

Odd shapes, like a surfboard in a beach-themed restaurant, can also be wallpapered. 

Since this type of design is not very popular, patrons are likely to enjoy it more. 

You should also apply the color theory and the ecological valence theory to this design element. Co-working spaces often have colorful chairs to liven up the space. This, when done in accordance with the color theory, has the ability to improve mood. 

Biophilic design is more than just including one or two plants in a space. But it can also be just that. You can decide the caliber to which you want a biophilic interior based on your budget.

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Ian Mutuli

About the author

Ian Mutuli

Founder and Managing Editor of Archute. He is also a graduate architect from The University of Nairobi, Kenya.

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