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Biophilic moodboards: leveraging the power of light in interiors

in biophilic moodboards

Light plays a crucial role in human wellbeing. A biophilic approach takes the impact of light into close consideration, recognizing that both natural and artificial light do much more than glowing in the dark.

This episode of Biophilic Moodboards looks into light, its relationship with human wellbeing, and design implications…

Biophilic design moodboard showing examples of dynamic and diffuse lighting. 1. Diffuse bedside lighting. 2. A olive tree branch reflecting on a wall. 3. Sunlight drawing patterns by filtering through a ribbed partition.
Credits (from top left): Sergey Makhno Architecs, unknown, Rudolf Reitermann + Peter Sassenroth. Moodboard: anooi studio

natural light and wellbeing

Natural light is what regulates human circadian rhythm: the biological clock that drives hormones’ production, making us awake during the day and ready to rest as the night comes. Natural light affects sleep quality, mental balance, concentration, performance, and mood.

There are two features that make sunlight so unique. Natural light is:
Dynamic – because it changes during the day, flowing between low and warm (at dawn and in the evening) and bright and cool (during the day).
Diffuse – because it spreads evenly in the space.

Corridor with natural light filtering through the windows.
Credit: Lovell Burton – Ph: Rory Gardiner

a natural foundation

Natural light is key to every interior space and becomes particularly important where people spend long periods of time. Notably, this concerns workplaces and schools. In the home, it includes living rooms, kitchens, dining areas, bedrooms and children’s bedrooms, as well as home office spaces.

Besides regulating the circadian rhythm, access to natural light adds life to the space, connects interiors with what’s happening outdoors, and provides awareness and appreciation of nature’s changes.

Natural light brightnening a kitchen space.
Credit: Nainoa

wellbeing-centered artificial lighting

Artificial lighting is usually set to a fixed intensity and colour, taking away the beneficial dynamism of sunlight. This is one of the reasons why lighting is best when designed in layers. Juxtaposing ambient, task, and accent lighting creates a varied and interesting distribution of light in the space.

Human Centric Lighting is another option. Mimicking the changing colour and intensity of sunlight, human-centric systems create a lighting setup that flows during the day, supporting the circadian rhythm.

Bedroom with dimmable strip-light behind the bed.
Credit: Makhno Studio

designing with light

Natural light can also introduce an ever-changing piece of art in the space, in the form of sculptural light and shadow plays that evolve during the day and across seasons. Many naturally occurring light reflections also follow a fractal pattern, bringing further interest into the space.

The reflection of a water feature, light filtering through the branches of a tree or the hollows of a patterned screen…these are all examples of moving and changing light that adds life and engages the senses.

Sunlight drawing patterns by filtering through a ribbed partition.
Credit: Rudolf Reitermann + Peter Sassenroth
Branches reflecting on outdoor tables.
Credit: Tribù

As a whole, an intentional and curated use of natural and artificial light in designed spaces can blend functional and wellbeing needs – all while reconnecting people to the richness of the natural world.

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