skip to main content

biophilic moodboards: designing interiors for all 5 senses

in biophilic moodboards

Designing spaces that engage all 5 senses lies at the heart of biophilic design.

Sensory spaces are more interesting, they feel better, and can contribute to bringing people closer to the natural world.

In the jargon, this is called “non-visual connection with nature” and we’re exploring it in this episode of Biophilic Moodboards.

Moodboard depicting non-visual biophilic design features. 1. A living room with a crackling fireplace 2. Fragrant flowers in a vase 3. Bedroom with stone textured back wall.
Credits (from top left): MIM Design, Foscarini, Makhno Studio. Moodboard: anooi studio

biophilic design and the 5 senses

Interior design is often associated with “how things look”. In fact, sight is the first sense we humans use to navigate a space, but this doesn’t mean the other senses should be considered irrelevant.

It’s the 5 senses together that define how people feel in a space. An uncomfortable seat, a disturbing noise, a bad odour…these are all examples of non-visual clues that affect the perception of a space. On the flip side, a thoughtful design that incorporates positive non-visual elements will create a rich and positively engaging experience…


Touch is the most ancestral sense and the first humans develop. As kids, we touch everything to discover and understand the world around us. Even as adults we touch things all the time, but we tend to give less relevance to what we feel.

Rich natural textures (or their reproductions) can create a deep tactile experience, one that will make people stop and consciously appreciate the experience of touch. Other biophilic features such as greenery and water can also become tactile features if they’re designed to be touched instead of just looked at.

Bedroom with stone textured back wall.
Credit: Makhno Studio
A zen garden with sand.
Credit: House of Grey


The impact of sounds on human wellbeing is immense, and studies have shown that exposure to nature’s sounds is able to reduce stress and help concentration. *

In interior design, the surroundings largely dictate the soundscape of a space. Yet, nature sounds can be introduced indoors by means of flowing water, a crackling fire, or even recordings of natural sounds.

Paying attention to the natural sounds that occur around us and enjoying them is also something we can train ourselves to do. For instance, rain and wind are something we experience no matter where we live. But how often do we stop and listen to the sound of rain or the whisper of wind?

A living room with a crackling fireplace.
Credit: MIM Design


Smells have the incredible power of bringing back memories of the past. They can be relaxing or energizing and studies have even shown that certain natural smells facilitate healing processes. *

From a wellbeing perspective, it’s preferable to choose naturally occurring scents, like fragrant plants and flowers. This has to do with the VOCs (volatile organic compounds) released by candles, incense, deodorizing sprays etc., which might accumulate in the air.

Fragrant flowers on a kitchen counter.
Credit: Studio McGee


How does the sense of taste fit into interior design? Taste is the fundamental sense when it comes to eating and drinking, so it naturally belongs to the kitchen and dining area.

Taste goes hand-in-hand with smell and sight (think about how many times seeing or smelling inviting food is enough to get your mouth watering).
This connection makes it easier to indirectly involve taste in the design of a biophilic interior. Growing a herb garden in the kitchen is an example, that will provide fresh cooking ingredients as a plus.

Kitchen with integrated planter.
Credit: studiofour – Ph: Shannon McGrath

Interiors that stimulate the 5 senses feel naturally more interesting and engaging, inviting people to experience the space at a deeper level.

* Sources

share this article
  • share on pinterest
  • share on twitter
  • share on facebook
  • share via whatsapp
  • share via email
related articles