In the world of flooring, nothing compares to the grace of natural materials: Hardwood, Stone Tile, Cork and Wool Carpet. They are sophisticated, yet they are earthy; they are highly sought-after, yet they are common.
Most would agree that they make a space feel more warm, inviting and even peaceful. The interesting thing, is that this isn’t just a feeling you get... it is a biological response. More and more evidence is surfacing that reveals the way in which Nature’s presence in human-made spaces positively affects the body and brain.
It is far reaching: “reducing stress, enhancing creativity and clarity of thought, improving well-being and expediting healing.” None of this is news per se, but it’s interesting that the welcoming feeling of a natural space is engrained in our biology and that it is measurable.
And it’s all the more interesting that there is a school of design called Biophilic Design based on this biological response. Its spokesperson Stephen Kellert and a large international group of architects, designers and urban planners have dedicated their efforts to building healthy and beautiful spaces inspired by and centered around, Nature.
Watch the film “Biophilic Design: the Architecture of Life”. It starts out by showing the problem that Biophilic Design was founded to address, a.k.a. various kinds of Modern urban decay: treeless suburbs with little character, office cubicles with not a window in sight, classrooms walled in by painted brick and hospital hallways. What they all have in common is that they are enclosed spaces, cut off and deprived of nature.
The film then shows Biophilic alternatives: a suburb with a central green space containing paths, gardens, water canals and mature forests; an office building with a plethora of windows, open spaces and gardens; a school hallway with windows overlooking a garden.
Researchers have found that in such spaces, residents (especially kids) are more connected to their neighbours and their space, office workers are more productive and less-stressed, students are more invested in education and successful, and patients recover significantly faster.
According to Kellert and his colleagues, there are many factors to creating a Biophilic space and nature needs to be thoroughly integrated. This means clean air, light, plants, natural shapes, natural colours and an ecological attachment to place (emphasizing the local environment & culture).
It’s a lovely vision, but it is not necessarily possible to hit all the points unless your budget is large and you’re building a new home, so utilizing natural materials along with plants, natural colours and locational artifacts can go a long way.
A study in 2007 that took place in Japan measured physiological responses to the presence of wood in a room. It showed that in a room with 45% of the surfaces covered in wood, subjects showed a significant decrease in blood pressure and heart rate. In a room with 90% coverage, they saw a decrease in brain activity.
While 90% wood might run the risk of looking like an antiquated colonial room, the relationship between the body and the presence of nature is a clear one: having more natural materials in a space makes it more comfortable and rejuvenating.
Perhaps this explains why, when it comes to the world of flooring, Hardwood, Stone, Cork and Wool Carpet are the most prized and sought after products. Each one adds Nature’s presence to a room: the intricate depth of Hardwood grain, the timeless earthiness of Stone Tile, the Kaleidoscopic pattern of Cork and warm coziness of Wool Carpet.
Each one also offers a sense of individuality. As Stephen Kellert says, the “magic of natural materials is that each piece is similar, yet each has a completely unique arrangement of pattern and texture.”
At Floorscapes, we carry all of the aforementioned products: Hardwood, Stone Tile, Cork and Wool Carpet. We are well versed in their qualities and applications and I’m sure that toegher, we could come up with some creative ways to help them contribute to your Biophilic space. Come by our showroom.
Written by guest author Eric Osborne