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Biophilic moodboards: adding mystery to interiors

in biophilic moodboards

Imagine you are visiting a museum. From where you stand, you can peak through thick curtains that have been left partly open. A softly lit area glowing in the dark invites you to get closer and discover what’s behind the curtains. This is the power of mystery.

This episode of Biophilic Moodboards looks into the concept of mystery in biophilic design

Moodboard showing 3 examples of mystery in biophilic design. 1: A curved corridor. 2: A plant partially hiding the rest of the room behind. 3: A partially see-through wooden partition.
Credits (from top left): Studio mk27, Cartelle Design - Visualization: The Black Monk, Mastrominas Architecture + Lambs and Lions. Moodboard: anooi studio

about mystery

Essentially, mystery refers to partially obscured views that leave something to the imagination. Mystery views have the ability to stimulate curiosity and the desire to explore, which are innate and distinctive human traits. For early humans, understanding the surroundings was a matter of survival. While this is no longer the case in our living spaces, the curiosity part of it has remained. It’s still intriguing to explore a space and mystery nurtures this instinctive drive.

There’s another element of mystery features that makes them so engaging: anticipation.
Research has shown that the human brain responds positively to anticipation in many aspects of life, from music to food. In space planning, mystery is exactly a way to create anticipation, to tease without revealing, to stimulate curiosity.

A curved corridor.
Credit: Studio mk27

mystery in designed spaces

There are several ways to introduce a sense of mystery in designed spaces. Partly see-through partitions (including planted partitions), thick curtains and curved walls are all effective in shielding the view. Light can also be used to create mystery. Less illuminated areas naturally feel more mysterious, and accent lighting can lead both attention and motion in the desired direction.

Introducing mystery in designed space requires balance. Too much of it can be counterproductive, turning pleasurable anticipation into a sense of discomfort and fear.

A partially see-through wooden partition.
Credit: Lambs and Lions
A plant partially hiding the rest of the room behind.
Credit: Cartelle Design

As a whole, mystery features add interest to the space, making it more stimulating and intriguing to experience and explore.

Biophilic design resources by anooi:
A Biophilic YearApplying Biophilic DesignVisual Library of Biophilic Design