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There’s no doubt in my mind that biophilic design is going to be one of the biggest bathroom trends in 2021 and beyond. However, it’s not a new concept. The term biophilia (from the Greek biofilia) first came to prominence in the 1970s. It generated even greater awareness in the 1980s, thanks to renowned biologist Edward Wilson’s work, Biophilia. In simple terms, biophilic design aims to incorporate nature within interiors. It also strives to increase our connectivity with the natural environment. I like to think of it as design which makes you feel good. And in these turbulent times, that’s definitely something we should all be exploring!

living wall in bathroomBiophilic beauty: Establishing a living wall in your bathroom is a wonderful way to bring the outside in

Emerging ‘megatrends were already having a major impact on the way we designed our living and working space. In fact, this was even before the emergence of COVID-19. With growing evidence of how our environment affects our wellbeing, having the right personal space in both residential and commercial dwellings is paramount. I think this has become even more important in light of the challenges of the past year. So this is where I believe bathrooms have a real role to play.

Why bathrooms in particular?

It’s important to understand that biophilic design doesn’t just look good: it helps us to feel good, too. It’s a well-known fact that incorporating elements from nature into the built environment reduces stress, blood pressure levels and heart rate. However this also increases productivity, creativity and wellbeing. Where better to bring this idea to life than in the bathroom? After all, this is the room that we most often associate with relaxation, self-care, calm and escape.

Docklands round mirror 80cm black biophilic design in the bathroom

Natural light is a key element of biophilic design – and even more important in a bathroom for practical reasons. Maximise yours with mirrors. Why not experiment with soft lines and organic shapes, such as our Docklands Round Mirror, pictured here in matt black?

Cinzia Moretti, Creative Director of Moretti Interior Design, and an expert in the field of biophilic design explains: “Now we’re spending so much time in our homes, the bathroom has become the ultimate retreat. You can simply shut the door and pretend you’re on holiday or luxuriating at a spa resort. You can unwind away from everyone in your house and this opportunity to fully relax has never been so important. Also, the more we have to stay indoors, the more we need to see nature around us. Therefore, if we are able – even in a small way – to bring nature inside, the benefits are significant.”

Cinzia at Moretti Interior Design

Cinzia Moretti of Moretti Interior Design is an expert on biophilic design

Bringing the outside in

Design, decor, lighting, mirrors, sound and accessories are all important elements of biophilic design. But there’s far more to the concept than introducing some token greenery. ‘Bringing the outside in’ is a familiar interior design technique. But it doesn’t just mean adding plants, although they are a great place to start! Rather, it’s all about increasing direct and indirect connectivity to the natural environment.

You can combine colours, natural materials, lighting, sounds and scents to create a bathroom space which enhances both your physical and psychological wellbeing. Take Dr Claudia Miller, from the University of Texas School of Medicine. She has inspired me in her thesis where she states: “Architects and designers have a greater ability to improve public health than medical professionals.”

Afrodite bathroom accessories to promote biophilic design

Made of natural materials such as concrete and bamboo, our Afrodite bathroom accessories are a fast, effective way to introduce biophilic design elements to your bathroom

Beauty and the brain

I think the best examples of biophilic design (in bathrooms and elsewhere) are ‘top down’; in other words, you incorporate them into a design project from the very beginning. So where possible, think big, but do not neglect the small stuff, either. Remember to give plenty of attention to detail. It’s often the little things that give a disproportionate amount of delight!

diffuser for the bathroom

The best examples of biophilic design appeal to all the senses. Scented candles and diffusers are an instant mood-enhancer. ‘Layer’ different aromas, and ring the changes according to your state of mind, season, or even time of day

I always think of biophilic design as intrinsically interconnected with Neuroaesthetics – the study of how design impacts us on an emotional level, and how interaction with objects (and experiences) can give us pleasure. It’s been a scientifically recognised phenomenon since the late 1990s. That’s one of the reasons why the right accessories are an ideal way to introduce elements of biophilic design to your bathroom.

The natural touch

It’s also relatively inexpensive to add elements of nature and these can easily be changed, depending on season and mood. Choose beautiful accessories made from stone or ceramic. Natural materials like this, as opposed to synthetics, are an easy way to embrace biophilic design. Think stylish objets d’art that multitask as storage and clutter busters. And embrace ‘bathscaping’. Dressing the area around your bath, with items such as candles, house plants, a wooden bath rack, cosy bath mat and so on, is a match made in biophilic heaven.

Indulge all the senses

Colour on your walls can be a game-changer where biophilic design is concerned. Greens, blues and earth tones are the obvious choices, as these most closely evoke the natural world. But if you prefer a neutral colour scheme, experiment with pattern and texture instead. You can even hang artwork depicting natural scenes and designs. One of my favourite styling tips is to splash out on a couple of sets of botanically patterned towels. And don’t forget diffusers and candles – these make it so easy to indulge in your favourite scents. You can vary the aromas according to the time of year or to match your mood. Personally, I’m enjoying fresh citrus scents at the moment, particularly Verbena, as it transports me back to the lemon groves of the Cyprus village where I spent my childhood summers.

Let it grow?

Lastly, no bathroom (biophilic or otherwise, in my opinion) is complete without plants. Just make sure you select varieties that thrive in humid conditions. If, like me, you’re a self-confessed serial plant killer, go faux. The artificial plant options available today are realistic, long-lasting and durable. Group a selection together, or even consider a mix-and-match approach with real plants, to add texture and variety.

Biophilic design faux plants in the bathroom

Fake it till you make it: Faux plants are a cost-effective and low-maintenance option for your biophilic bathroom

“Orchids love humidity, so they are perfect in a bathroom,” notes Moretti. “You can also use bamboo to create a natural look – or, if space allows, even add a living wall. Other nature-evoking options to consider would be shell texture vinyl flooring or wood-effect tiles. And do consider wallpaper. There are some amazing wallpapers and fabrics, which have been specifically designed for bathrooms. So pick the ones that feature floral patterns or other natural elements. Unleash your imagination, and customise your walls to create whichever type of natural look you prefer.”

Docklands rectangular mirror 50 brushed brass in biophilic bathroom

Be creative with patterned wallpaper! I love how our Docklands Rectangular Mirror – pictured here in brushed brass – complements the uplifting bird motif on this feature wall. Image: courtesy of ATA Designs

At Origins Living, we’ve been transforming bathrooms for more than 25 years. If you’d like more advice about how to incorporate biophilic design principles into your latest bathroom project, call 020 8599 8080 or email: