5 Ways to use materials and texture in biophilic design

Whilst the concept of biophilic design has been with us for some time now it has recently become the buzzword of contemporary design. Design inspired by nature highlights the importance of creating a connection with nature in our interiors and living environments. Materials and texture in biophilic design are a vital feature that bring the balance into our homes of functional design pieces that serve our needs whilst creating a relaxed space with visual and tactile connections to nature.


textures and materials in biophilic design

Our wool throws layered in a home designed by EHG Home. Founder and stylist Kate Haynes uses layers of natural textures and materials to create interiors that resonate with our instinctive desire to connect with nature. This room features our Leaf Green Throws and Cushions

What is biophilic interior design and how do you incorporate it into your home?

Biophilic Interior Design means introducing nature and reflecting features of the local environment within an interior space. The word originates from the word Biophilia — meaning Love Of Nature. Using biophilic design in our home interior is proven to benefit our health and wellbeing.

Why biophilic design works

Biophilic design can reduce stress, improve health, welfare and productivity for those who want a healthy home environment. Incorporating biophilic design into your home can mean simply mean introducing natural elements and considering elements of nature like natural light, plants fresh air and ventilation are prominent in your home as well as views of natural landscapes.

With this in mind it easy to see how materials and texture in biophilic design schemes are a key feature in building layers of connection with nature and our surrounding local environment into our homes. So let's take a look at ways in which we can use these design elements to enhance health and wellbeing at home

How can we use materials and texture in biophilic design?

1. Choose natural materials that enhance a connection with nature

Humans are instinctively drawn to tactile and natural materials.

Have you ever walked past a soft woollen blanket or a beautiful wooden chair in a showroom and instinctively felt the urge to reach out and touch it?

Research into biophilic design tells us that a space with a good material connection with nature feels rich, warm and authentic, and sometimes stimulating to the touch. So it's a natural reaction to want to stimulate our senses by reaching out and touching. Natural materials such as wood, stone and wool have been proven to be calming and beneficial to have in your home.

connection to nature in biophilic design

This outdoor space by De Villiers Interior Design and Viva Lagoon is part of a project nominated for a Society of British and International Interior Designers Award. The scheme uses a mixture of natural materials and textures and features our Zala Slate Rug. Photo by Nick Smith.

Natural textures

Natural textures and materials that reference our connection with nature often have the ability to resonate positively with people. They have a natural authenticity that we connect with; this is one of the reasons we work primarily with natural fibres such as wool and cotton for our collections. The feel of the natural textures creates a contrast to the built environment we live in which is refreshing to our senses.

The key is adding design elements with natural materials that have had minimal processing so that they look and feel ‘real’. Using wood is a perfect example of one of the elements found in nature that easily brings a feeling of wellbeing into the home. For example the natural elements of colour and soft patterns in the grain of a wooden chair are more in tune with love of nature than the bold flat colours and angular shapes that can be found in modern flat pack furniture. This feeling of having contact with nature brings comfort, warmth and authenticity to interior spaces.

2. Use a rich mix of textures

Create a visually nourishing environment by using design elements with a rich and diverse range of natural textures and materials. 

Nature's palette is rich and varied. It is also ever changing. Consider the variety of colours, textures and shapes you'll find whilst walking through the woods. Now add to that the effects of the changing of the seasons. Layer upon layer of variations in colours, shapes and textures.

Biophilic design helps create balance

Make it engaging and intriguing. Do you ever notice that in nature the mix of colours and textures is always balanced? In all the variety there's a natural cohesion to it all so the effect is interesting, but never overwhelming.


biophilic design interior with plants

Another interior by Kate Haynes and the team at EHG Home. Beautifully balanced natural colours and textures create a relaxed and elegant interior. Featuring our Inlet Cashmere Cushions

Mimic natural textures. Material and textural inspiration from nature is everywhere. From the coarseness of tree bark, to rippling patterns on the surface of the sea or the silky soft finish of a newly unfurled leaf. These subtle patterns in the elements of nature stimulate our brains to engage with the details.

In biophilic design this phenomenon is known as complexity and order. In interior design this involves building up a dynamic mix of textures that remind us of our connection to nature. The result is rooms that are positiively engaging and comforting to our senses as they are information rich whilst keeping a fine balance that is neither overwhelming nor boring to look at. 

3. Add Layering 

The art of layering natures colours and textures in design elements at home creates a multi-dimensional and multi-sensory look with visual and tactile appeal. Include a general overall mix of textures in furnishings such as throws, rugs and cushions.

patterns of biophilic design

Layering with our Crinkle Cotton Throws and Dunes Cushion collections

Consider layering a visual connection with nature from the ground up. Nature inspired wooden floors covered with soft textural rugs under a sofa covered in a soft natural fabric and scattered with layers of tactile cushions.

Enhance a sense of well being with plants

Plants provide another layer of interest in biophilic design led interiors. Not only do they bring real live elements of nature into a room but they are also great for our health and wellbeing.


plants and well being in biophilic design

Our Rhythmic Tides Rug and a selection of large plants bring the outside in to this living space

As well as providing a visual boost, plants help to create healthier homes by reducing toxins, increasing humidity and increasing oxygen in a room. This in turn can reduce stress, lower blood pressure and is mood boosting making us more energetic and productive. 

4. Create cosy spaces

It's human nature to seek comfort and cocooning in our homes. Biophilic design research says this is an instinctive desire that harks back to a primal need for our home to be a place of safety and refuge drawing on our most basic needs to feel protected from behind and overhead.

A biophilic design led home should be a calming space that allows us to withdraw from the everyday hustle and bustle and activity of the built up environment around us, therefore allowing us to rest and recharge.

Create a restorative retreat

Create nooks and zones within rooms that are nurturing and cosy. A comfy soft upholstered armchair that looks out into the room, or out into nature through a window with a view of the garden is a great place to relax and recharge the batteries. Make sure it has soft cushions to sink into and is layered up with blankets on the arm for that cocooning feeling of wrapping up to get away from it all.

Layering up with textiles on the walls as well as on the floors and furniture softens the space. This also helps with noise reduction, deadening echoes and sounds through the house. Create the appeal of a den in the woods or sheltered cave.

Nature inspired design elements

Nature inspired artwork can also help to soften the built environment of bare walls or an urban city view by calming the senses and creating a positive and restorative connection with nature through a beautiful view of a painted landscape.

5. Make seasonal changes

Nature is ever changing through the seasons and in biophilic design making subtle changes in your decor through the seasons helps strengthen a connection to nature between your living space and the changing seasons.

Home accessories can easily be switched up to reflect seasonal changes and help us to tune in to the changes in the natural world. In Summer dress your beds and sofas with light weight cotton throws. In Winter you can switch these out for heavier wool textures.

A seasonal connection to nature

One of the simplest way to appreciate nature's changes is to decorate your home with a bunch of seasonal flowers. Daffodils and tulips in the spring, peonies in early summer, late summer sunflowers and hydrangeas or winter berries all make beautiful displays.

ottomans stools and rugs

Festive season decor featuring our ottoman footstools and soft furnishings

Christmas is one of the most decorative seasons for connecting us with nature. Bringing natural elements such as a tree into our living room, green garlands and foliage around the home and the wreath on the door as a natural representation of the circle of life.

Adapting your decor to celebrate the natural flow of life from one season to the next recognises a healthy connection with the natural world. The change in decor enhances awareness of seasonality and the cycles of life. Like Christmas the experiences in preparing to enjoy the seasonal changes at home are often relaxing, nostalgic and frequently anticipated as a way of marking a moment in time.