Design Inspo

The Designer's Guide to Biophilia

Adding greenery to your space is not only beautiful but also a high contributor to your mental well-being. Here are the best tips and tricks for how to incorporate plants in your home and which ones to start with if you don't exactly have a green thumb.

The Designer's Guide to Biophiliadesigned with spoak - watermark

Integrating nature into your built environment is known as biophilic design. These are our top things to know about biophilia and designing with plants:

  • Biophilic design is a design concept that seeks to integrate nature into the built environment.
  • Incorporating plants into your design plans will improve your mental well-being a the space.
  • It’s important to ensure you find the right light for the plants in your home.
  • You should consider certain restrictions in your life that might affect your plant’s watering schedule.
  • There are plenty of resources for buying plants in person or online.

Bring a living thing (that is likely the color green) into your living space for continued happiness and mental well-being.

Biophilia is a wellness paradise that can be in your zip code. It is a place where human interaction with nature is personal, fulfilling, and exceptional. It's where there's sunshine, the smell of pine needles or salty windswept beaches, plenty of fresh air, and life that grow all around you. Aspects of biophilia make you feel good from your core to your fingertips. Biophilia is the theory that humans have an affinity to the natural world. This affinity can make you calmer, happier, and more satisfied in urban jungles, concrete jungles, city-scapes, etc.

Most importantly, biophilic design is a design concept that seeks to integrate nature into the built environment. This theory is not brand new; it has long been held by various Indigenous peoples whose connection with nature is inherent to their culture.

Many studies have been conducted in multiple spaces to quantify this theory. This study, published by the American Psychological Association in 2020, came at a critical moment during the drastically shifting social landscape in the wake of Covid-19. If you zoom out from a clinical perspective, bringing nature inside has been part of our contemporary social fabric for some time—a simple gesture like getting flowers to a dinner party or ordering funeral bouquets to honor and commemorate a loved one's passing. The easiest way to adopt this design ethos in your daily life is to ensure sunlight and fresh air enter your living space. The next best thing is to commit to growing and living with green plants.

Before I run down the list of how to choose your best plant, you'll need to assess your living space! The essential access points are light, restrictions, water, and food.

Inspiration for how to incorporate lots of greenery into your space.

When designing with plants, it’s important to find the right light.

The light question refers to where and how your plant will get its primary life-sustaining source. Plants need sunlight for the process of photosynthesis to sustain themselves. The good thing is that if there's a lack of sunlight in your space, necessary rays can be easily supplemented by a grow light (more on that later), which has become much more affordable these days. The strength of light you have access to will influence what type of plant you can maintain. You could even buy the bulb and use a decorative lamp you already own!

Open the compass application on your phone for optimal 'you can do it!' green life sustainment. Stand in front of your window(s) to determine the sun's path. I recommend repeating this process with every window in your space and jotting down notes to help you remember. Knowing the direction your windows face will give you reliable information to help figure out what types of plants can go around your space. Don't forget that the most light might come from a skylight in your kitchen or bathroom (yay, humidity!) Determining where you will place your plant should be based on life-sustaining sunshine support, not just where we'd like to see some greenery (unless you're going faux, which is also an option). Generally, in apartment buildings, north-facing windows are tough. They offer minimal direct light and might not give you as much exposure as some plants (or people) would want.

After scoping out the sun's path across your space, check out these grow lights to see if it's in your budget to supplement Mother Nature. These days, they come in white light or go old school with that blacklight purple glow. If you've got a pendant light situated above a could-be plant area, consider swapping out the bulb with a grow light bulb instead. Of course, you want to ensure the light supplements whatever natural light comes in, so a lamp's throw will play across multiple pots or plants. If you ever need to map out where these plants will go before purchasing, look no further than Spoak's design tools: mock-ups, inspiration from other members, and product recommendations are all available there.

If there are some serious rays in your southern or western windows, keep in mind that glass can strengthen the sun's rays (especially if it's direct sunlight). This could mean you're at risk of burning a leaf or two, especially with a Peace Lily, Pothos, or Money Tree plants. Some plants will die right away in less than ideal conditions. Others are sturdier and just need to be moved a few inches/feet from the glass or pane, such as Monstera, Snake Plant, and Alocasia. This graphic from The Sill is one of my favorites for understanding bright vs. indirect light.

Consider certain restrictions in your life that might affect your plant’s watering schedule.

Do you have kids or pets? Do you frequently travel, making it difficult to water your plants consistently? These restrictions will narrow the parameters for types of plants that will set you up for long-term growing success. The plant wants you to succeed; I want you to succeed! These aspects are more focused on your lifestyle, so choose accordingly! Many varieties out there need very little care outside of their growing season.

The type of plants that will grow in your house will depend on where you live.

In our current pandemic world, more and more folks are choosing to work from home full time and thus need to feel inspiration and support from their immediate surroundings. Having something to care for outside of yourself or a partner that asks very little in return will change everything! Harken back to the days of Tamagotchi and Chia Pets. They were just a joy, weren't they? Plants, foliage, and flowers are IRL Tamagotchis. Just envisioning that brings you joy. You're welcome.

A greenery-filled room designed by Carolibeth Espinal.

Here’s where you can buy plants in person or online.

I am an advocate for shopping small. Of course, your standard Home Depot or Lowes will always have sales, and if you're interested in buying multiples of one plant, sometimes the big box stores make this easier. Where you decide to shop for plants is a personal choice, especially when picking the one. If you're going commercial, I like to check the leaves for bugs or dryness and the soil just in case. Dipping a finger into the soil will let you know if it has been watered recently. If you live in Brooklyn or NYC, check out the list below for some hidden local gems:

If you’re looking to buy plants online, I recommend:

Here's the fun part of your biophilic journey: you can bring in whatever suits your fancy! Everybody's got to start somewhere. This is your chance to find your affinity—long and leafy? Short but flowering? Driftwood from your favorite beach? Bringing natural elements into your living space could be as simple as painting one wall green or as complex as installing a self-watering living green wall you wake up to every morning.

A room designed with an air plant wall by Ivy Logan Design.

Some typical hard-to-kill starters:

Spider plants are sturdy, suitable for hanging in windows or sitting on tabletops, and pet-friendly! Pothos or philodendrons are vining and can be directed around a trellis, bookshelf, or guided up a wall using tacks or hooks. Snake plants will stay alive with very little light. Start flowers from seed inside mid-Spring and tend to them through the summer. Then, whichever variety of plants you decide on, dust off the leaves every once in a while, give it a name (or not!), and enjoy their presence!

See how plants would look in your space before you buy them with Spoak.

Date Posted
May 13, 2022
Tagged
Design Inspo

The Designer's Guide to Biophilia

Adding greenery to your space is not only beautiful but also a high contributor to your mental well-being. Here are the best tips and tricks for how to incorporate plants in your home and which ones to start with if you don't exactly have a green thumb.

Integrating nature into your built environment is known as biophilic design. These are our top things to know about biophilia and designing with plants:

  • Biophilic design is a design concept that seeks to integrate nature into the built environment.
  • Incorporating plants into your design plans will improve your mental well-being a the space.
  • It’s important to ensure you find the right light for the plants in your home.
  • You should consider certain restrictions in your life that might affect your plant’s watering schedule.
  • There are plenty of resources for buying plants in person or online.

Bring a living thing (that is likely the color green) into your living space for continued happiness and mental well-being.

Biophilia is a wellness paradise that can be in your zip code. It is a place where human interaction with nature is personal, fulfilling, and exceptional. It's where there's sunshine, the smell of pine needles or salty windswept beaches, plenty of fresh air, and life that grow all around you. Aspects of biophilia make you feel good from your core to your fingertips. Biophilia is the theory that humans have an affinity to the natural world. This affinity can make you calmer, happier, and more satisfied in urban jungles, concrete jungles, city-scapes, etc.

Most importantly, biophilic design is a design concept that seeks to integrate nature into the built environment. This theory is not brand new; it has long been held by various Indigenous peoples whose connection with nature is inherent to their culture.

Many studies have been conducted in multiple spaces to quantify this theory. This study, published by the American Psychological Association in 2020, came at a critical moment during the drastically shifting social landscape in the wake of Covid-19. If you zoom out from a clinical perspective, bringing nature inside has been part of our contemporary social fabric for some time—a simple gesture like getting flowers to a dinner party or ordering funeral bouquets to honor and commemorate a loved one's passing. The easiest way to adopt this design ethos in your daily life is to ensure sunlight and fresh air enter your living space. The next best thing is to commit to growing and living with green plants.

Before I run down the list of how to choose your best plant, you'll need to assess your living space! The essential access points are light, restrictions, water, and food.

Inspiration for how to incorporate lots of greenery into your space.

When designing with plants, it’s important to find the right light.

The light question refers to where and how your plant will get its primary life-sustaining source. Plants need sunlight for the process of photosynthesis to sustain themselves. The good thing is that if there's a lack of sunlight in your space, necessary rays can be easily supplemented by a grow light (more on that later), which has become much more affordable these days. The strength of light you have access to will influence what type of plant you can maintain. You could even buy the bulb and use a decorative lamp you already own!

Open the compass application on your phone for optimal 'you can do it!' green life sustainment. Stand in front of your window(s) to determine the sun's path. I recommend repeating this process with every window in your space and jotting down notes to help you remember. Knowing the direction your windows face will give you reliable information to help figure out what types of plants can go around your space. Don't forget that the most light might come from a skylight in your kitchen or bathroom (yay, humidity!) Determining where you will place your plant should be based on life-sustaining sunshine support, not just where we'd like to see some greenery (unless you're going faux, which is also an option). Generally, in apartment buildings, north-facing windows are tough. They offer minimal direct light and might not give you as much exposure as some plants (or people) would want.

After scoping out the sun's path across your space, check out these grow lights to see if it's in your budget to supplement Mother Nature. These days, they come in white light or go old school with that blacklight purple glow. If you've got a pendant light situated above a could-be plant area, consider swapping out the bulb with a grow light bulb instead. Of course, you want to ensure the light supplements whatever natural light comes in, so a lamp's throw will play across multiple pots or plants. If you ever need to map out where these plants will go before purchasing, look no further than Spoak's design tools: mock-ups, inspiration from other members, and product recommendations are all available there.

If there are some serious rays in your southern or western windows, keep in mind that glass can strengthen the sun's rays (especially if it's direct sunlight). This could mean you're at risk of burning a leaf or two, especially with a Peace Lily, Pothos, or Money Tree plants. Some plants will die right away in less than ideal conditions. Others are sturdier and just need to be moved a few inches/feet from the glass or pane, such as Monstera, Snake Plant, and Alocasia. This graphic from The Sill is one of my favorites for understanding bright vs. indirect light.

Consider certain restrictions in your life that might affect your plant’s watering schedule.

Do you have kids or pets? Do you frequently travel, making it difficult to water your plants consistently? These restrictions will narrow the parameters for types of plants that will set you up for long-term growing success. The plant wants you to succeed; I want you to succeed! These aspects are more focused on your lifestyle, so choose accordingly! Many varieties out there need very little care outside of their growing season.

The type of plants that will grow in your house will depend on where you live.

In our current pandemic world, more and more folks are choosing to work from home full time and thus need to feel inspiration and support from their immediate surroundings. Having something to care for outside of yourself or a partner that asks very little in return will change everything! Harken back to the days of Tamagotchi and Chia Pets. They were just a joy, weren't they? Plants, foliage, and flowers are IRL Tamagotchis. Just envisioning that brings you joy. You're welcome.

A greenery-filled room designed by Carolibeth Espinal.

Here’s where you can buy plants in person or online.

I am an advocate for shopping small. Of course, your standard Home Depot or Lowes will always have sales, and if you're interested in buying multiples of one plant, sometimes the big box stores make this easier. Where you decide to shop for plants is a personal choice, especially when picking the one. If you're going commercial, I like to check the leaves for bugs or dryness and the soil just in case. Dipping a finger into the soil will let you know if it has been watered recently. If you live in Brooklyn or NYC, check out the list below for some hidden local gems:

If you’re looking to buy plants online, I recommend:

Here's the fun part of your biophilic journey: you can bring in whatever suits your fancy! Everybody's got to start somewhere. This is your chance to find your affinity—long and leafy? Short but flowering? Driftwood from your favorite beach? Bringing natural elements into your living space could be as simple as painting one wall green or as complex as installing a self-watering living green wall you wake up to every morning.

A room designed with an air plant wall by Ivy Logan Design.

Some typical hard-to-kill starters:

Spider plants are sturdy, suitable for hanging in windows or sitting on tabletops, and pet-friendly! Pothos or philodendrons are vining and can be directed around a trellis, bookshelf, or guided up a wall using tacks or hooks. Snake plants will stay alive with very little light. Start flowers from seed inside mid-Spring and tend to them through the summer. Then, whichever variety of plants you decide on, dust off the leaves every once in a while, give it a name (or not!), and enjoy their presence!

See how plants would look in your space before you buy them with Spoak.

Date Posted
May 13, 2022
Tagged

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