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biophilic moodboards: leveraging the power of light in interiors

in biophilic moodboards

Light plays a crucial role in human wellbeing and is an essential design consideration for all spaces.

In this episode of Biophilic Moodboards, we’re looking into light. Dynamic and diffuse light to be precise, which summarizes the two main features driving the benefits of light on wellbeing…

Biophilic design moodboard showing examples of dynamic & 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 controls our biological clock, driving hormones’ production to make us awake during the day and ready to rest as the night comes. Natural light affects sleep quality, mental balance and mood. In practice, exposure to quality daylight has been shown to improve concentration, performance and mood in both children and adults. *

To simplify, the elements that make natural light so beneficial can be summarized with two adjectives:

View of a table with natural light filtering from outside.
Credit: Menu

natural light in biophilic design

Natural light is key to every interior space and is particularly important in areas where people spend a lot of time. This includes “the heart of the home” (be it the dining area, the kitchen or the living room), home office spaces, as well as the workplace.

Access to natural light regulates the circadian rhythm, adds life to the space, and it connects interiors with what’s happening outdoors, stimulating awareness and appreciation of nature’s changes.

Biophilic living room with minimal furniture and plenty of natural light.
Credit: Keiji Ashizawa Design – Ph: Jonas Bjerre-Poulsen

artificial lighting in biophilic design

Artificial lighting is a precious invention, but it can put our circadian rhythm off. This is because artificial lighting is set to a fixed intensity and colour, taking away the beneficial dynamism of natural light.

This is one of the reasons why artificial lighting is best when designed in layers. Juxtaposing ambient, task and accent lighting creates an uneven – read dynamic – lighting distribution in the space. Layering lighting also brings the space to life, creating several points of interest.
Technology also helps in making artificial lighting better for wellbeing. Named Human Centric Lighting, modern lighting systems allow mimicking the changing colour and intensity of sunlight during the day, following our biological cycles.

Bedroom with dimmable strip-light hidden in the wood panel behind the bed.
Credit: Makhno Studio
Outdoor restaurant space punctuated by lit tables.
Credit: Natu

designing with natural light

Not to be forgotten, natural light can become a decorative feature too. When designed intentionally, light and shadow effects become an artwork that changes during the day and across seasons, contributing to the connection to natural systems.

Light also interacts with other natural elements. The reflection of a water feature or the light filtering through the branches of a tree are examples of moving and changing light that engages the senses. Many naturally-occurring light reflections also follow a fractal pattern, bringing further interest to the space.

Light filtering through the holes of a wall.
Credit: Block Architects – Photo by Quang Dam
Sunlight drawing patterns by filtering through a ribbed partition.
Credit: Rudolf Reitermann + Peter Sassenroth
Branches reflecting on outdoor tables.
Credit: Tribù

Overall, deliberate use of natural and artificial light in designed spaces can blend functional and wellbeing needs, while reconnecting people to the richness of the natural world.

* Sources

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