14 Steps to Biophilic Design

Biophilic design uses nature as an architectural framework to weave the patterns and forms of nature into the built environment to strengthen the human-nature connection. The concept of Biophilic design is based on 14 patterns.

The trend towards eco-living has been on the increase over the last couple of years. As our ever-growing population expands, we are forever looking for more ways to live sustainably. One of these solutions is biophilic design. This is something that we specialise in at Harleen Mclean Interiors, we offer a bespoke service to individuals and companies interested in interiors to enhance overall wellbeing, improve sleep quality, reduce stress, and boost productivity and effectiveness.

14 steps to biophilia

Credit - Style Addict

What is Biophilic design?

Biophilia is the idea that humans have an innate attraction and biological connection to nature. It’s all about how our senses connect with nature, for example the peace that comes from going on long country walks or the wonderment we feel watching the sunset.

Biophilic design is an innovative way to create buildings in a way that allows humans to reconnect with the natural world. Especially in today’s society where people are stuck cooped inside offices all day and struggle to make time to connect with the outside world. Spending time in these environments is proven to create a sensory deprivation and negative feelings towards these locations.


In order to combat this, Biophilic design is the perfect solution as it looks at the impact that nature has on humans. It then looks at ways these positive aspects can be incorporated into everyday architecture and can be modified for any home environment.

14 Patterns of Biophilic Design

Biophilic design can be broken down into 14 different patterns. These patterns aren’t definitive rules, they are meant to help guide you rather than form strict guidelines. By looking at each of the patterns and the suggestions of how to use them, you will gain inspiration for how to incorporate them into your home and lifestyle.

1. Visual Connection with Nature

This pattern is based on the idea of viewing the elements of nature, natural processes and living systems. A visual connection with nature has been proven to reduce stress, create positive emotional functioning, improve concentration and recovery rates.

A visual connection with nature can be naturally occurring with things such as a natural flow of streaming water, animals and visible terrain of soil or earth on the grounds. If these are not naturally occurring in your area, they can be recreated. This 

can be done with a simulated natural environment such a green living wall, houseplants and flowers or even artwork that shows nature scenes.

1. Visual Connection with Nature

Credit - Balcony Decoration 

2. Non-Visual Connection with Nature

There are actually many ways to connect with nature that doesn’t involve seeing it. This can be done through (Senses) sound, smell, touch or taste. When these senses connect with nature, there are health benefits. An auditory connection has revealed a reduction of cognitive fatigue and an increase in motivation. Scents can trigger memories that calm and energize individuals. Touch, for example pet therapy has shown to have calming effects.

This pattern occurs naturally in the form of fragmented flowers, weather and textured materials such as stone, wood, moss, fur and noisy animals such as songbirds. But don’t worry if these aren’t available to you, it can be created in other ways like natural air fresheners such as essential oil diffusers, nature sounds, texture fabrics and allowing pets in the home.

2. Non-Visual Connection with Nature

Credit - Terracotta Stone Diffuser by VITRUVI.

3. Non-rhythmic Sensory Stimuli

These connections are random, short burst that are found in natural environment’s but are hard to predict. They have been studied in relation to heart rate, eye patterns, blood pressure and flight or fight responses. For example, after staring at a computer screen for a long time, a brief distraction caused naturally is beneficial.

This pattern can be found naturally in the form of breezes, bird chirping, cloud movement and plant life rustling. These natural distractions can be recreated in your home environment, specifically in the rooms where you spend a lot of time (home office) and need this type of stimuli. It can be in the form of a billowy fabric that will move in the breeze, art that create shadows or light patterns throughout the home or nature sounds that are broadcasted at random intervals.

3. Non-rhythmic Sensory Stimuli

Credit - Etsy

4. Thermal and airflow variability

This pattern describes the subtle changes in air temperature and airflow that occur when you’re in natural environments. An environment that lacks this sensory regularity leads to boredom and inactiveness.

This pattern may already occur in your home in the form of solar heat from the sun passing through the window or you’re in the shadows and shade. If you don’t have this sort of environment, then you can recreate the effect by using window treatments, glazing or creating more ventilation throughout the house.

4. Thermal and airflow variability


5. Presence of water

Water is an important feature to the lifecycle and found throughout nature. It has been found to improve self- esteem and mood. It has also been proven to reduce stress levels.

Water may be a naturally occurring thing in your garden or surrounding area in the form of a river, stream, ocean, pond or rainfall. But don’t worry if this is not the case, you can recreate this at home by adding a water fountain/ feature in the garden or an aquarium. Even imagery of water has proven to be stimulating.

5. Presence of water

Credit - Image fromianayris.com

6. Dynamic and Diffused Light

This pattern looks at how lights and shadows appear in a natural environment. Research has found that people are more productive with more light in their everyday environment.

In more recent studies they have found that the quality of light and its fluctuations are just as important.  A typical pattern of light fluctuates between high amount of sunlight during the day (blue light) this produces serotonin and low amounts of light at nigh time which produces melatonin. This balance can lead to improved mood, alertness, sleep quality and depression.

Although dynamic and diffused lighting may already exist in your home through windows, firelight, moonlight and seasonal light. If the balance is off, then you can create this pattern using low glare electric light sources such as lights on walls or ceilings. Alternatively using lights that have a dimming feature and taking advantage of accent lighting.

6. Dynamic and Diffused Light

Credit - Tudo And Co, Hanging Garden Plant Pendant Light

7. Connection with Natural Systems

Connecting with natural systems depicts the awareness that seasonal and temporal changes are a sign of a healthy environment. Having the awareness of the life cycle and seasonality can lead to a more relaxing, nostalgic, open- minded lifestyle.

This pattern will be naturally occurring, which may be in the form of weather patterns, geology (erosion, visible fault lines, fossils) or life cycle patterns (growth, pollination and aging). One way you could create this pattern at home is try adding life cycles to your home such as a bird house in the garden or making space for plants in the home.

7. Connection with Natural Systems


8. Biomorphic forms and patterns

Biomorphism is when shapes and patterns that occur in nature are used within design. An example of this would be the Fibonacci series (0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34 …) this is a numeric sequence that occurs in living things such as plants. This number pattern can also be followed within architecture and design in the home.

Biomorphic forms and patterns can easily be incorporated into your home interior in various of ways. For example, choosing fabrics, carpet or wallpapers that are based on the Fibonacci series or purchase sculptures that represent natural elements. Another way that you can do this is by incorporating leaf patterns in your furniture details or use natural elements such as woodwork throughout the home.

8. Biomorphic forms and patterns

Credit Image: Marks and Spencer

9. Material Connection with Nature

Creating a material connection with nature is made with the intention of making a space feel warm, rich and authentic. Research has shown that the use of different materials can impact both our mood and productivity. For example, if the interior of the room is mainly wood, it creates a sense of relaxation.

You can experiment with this pattern at home by using accents throughout your home by using different materials and textures. Bamboo, woodgrains, rattan and stone are great materials to use. Embracing a natural colour palette enables you to create this material connection with nature.

9. Material Connection with Nature

Credit - Sage Green Linen Duvet Cover, PIGLET

10. Complexity and Order

This part involves looking at the pattern of spatial hierarchy in nature and trying to recreate it within buildings. Complexity and order can be achieved by using symmetry and fractals or irregular geometric shapes.

These patterns can be found in wallpaper and carpet design, window details or a floorplan. Fractal patterns can be seen in Classical and Egyptian art. Embracing art in your home is another great way to incorporate this pattern into your home.

10. Complexity and Order

Credit - traditional mayan interior design, Pintrest

11. Prospect

The prospect pattern represents a space that feels open and free, also having a sense of safety and control. In order to create this there should be a focus on focal lengths that are equal to or longer than 3 meters and partition heights shorter than or equal to 1 meter.

A Focal length can be created by displaying a piece of art at the end of a long hallway. This highlights the open space whilst creating a focal point. For partitions, try sectioning a room with an opaque divider or transparent materials such as glass.

11. Prospect

Credit -  The Maple Building in London’s Kentish Town, designed by Gordon Duff Linton.

12. Refuge

The refuge pattern is about creating an environment that feels safe and provides a sense of withdrawal or refuge. Refuge conditions can create a restorative and stress -free environment that lowers the blood pressure and heart rate.

In order to create a calming sanctuary within your home, try incorporating reading nooks, booth seating, high-backed chairs, canopy beds or even a treehouse (great idea for if you have kids at home). These spaces will create a safe haven that’s reserved for relaxation.

12. Refuge

Credit - Life on Summer Hill

13. Mystery

Mystery is achieved by obscuring the senses with the promise of more information to come. This creates a sense of anticipation and interest. An example of this would be obstructing a view that forces a person to have to move around an object in order to see the full scene such as a window.

Try incorporating this pattern into your home by using curved edges, winding paths and obscured views. A great example would be using partially covered windows or translucent materials to achieve this.

 13. Mystery

Credit - Home Decor 

14. Risk and Peril

The theme of risk and peril is depicted by a threat that has a reliable safeguard. Having this awareness of a controllable risk has been shown to produce adrenalin and pleasure responses.

This pattern can be used within the home without having to cause any real harm. For example, incorporating art that seems to defy gravity using magnets or try framing life size photography of a feared animal. Another way you can incorporate this pattern into your home is through the structure of your house through transparent railing or floor panels.

14. Risk and Peril

Credit - Nordic Wall Art, Striking Wild Zebra Poster Black White Red Background Modern Interior Wall Art Canvas Print For Kitchen Bedroom Living Room Home Decor

Now that you have learned about the 14 patterns of biophilic design, you can use them to make your home more in-tune with nature and reconnect with the outside world. Don’t forget to sign up to our free webinar which will be covering all things biophilia.