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biophilic moodboards: the benefits of "risky" interiors

in biophilic moodboards

One of the objectives of biophilic design is recreating the layout of natural landscapes, a goal that falls under the name of Nature of the Space.

It is no surprise that nature is filled with risky situations and environments, but can we say they bring positive feelings? And even so, how does this fit in interior design?

This is what we’ll explore in this episode of Biophilic Moodboards

Moodboard showing the concept of risk in biophilic design. 1. A bed with glass legs. 2. A seemingly unstable shelf. 3. A floating staircase.
Credits (from top left): Lago, Joel Escalona - Ph Mariana Achach, Steven Harris Architects - Ph: Scott Frances. Moodboard: anooi studio

risk and wellbeing

In order to fully support our wellbeing, interiors need to be relaxing or stimulating according to the situation. If a bedroom calls for a soothing ambiance, a stimulating environment will be more appropriate when creativity is required (like in office design) or to create a compelling interior.

This is exactly where risk features come into play, as they help to make an atmosphere intriguing and inspiring. But not just any type of risk will work…

risk in biophilic design

Risk is a broad concept and what is in scope for biophilic design is a balanced combination of perceived risk and a rational knowledge of safety. In practice, this refers to situations that seem risky while in fact being safe.

Such feelings of apparent risk have been connected with dopamine release in our brain *. A short dose of dopamine can stimulate motivation, memory and problem-solving, all precious assets when trying to be creative!

On top of this, risk design features are among the most spectacular ones. They trigger a sense of excitement that leaves people surprised and amazed, achieving what we would commonly call a wow factor.

A terraced infinity pool that seems to go right into the forest.
Credit: Hanging Gardens of Bali

risk in interior design

There exist several ways of introducing risk in interiors. As a general rule, it’s all about playing with shapes, materials and perspectives to create the perception of risk while keeping everything safe.

Clear glass is a good example. Glass makes things visually disappear, creating a sense of instability while still being structurally sound. Suspended and cantilevered elements are also a way to add an element of risk to interiors as they give a sense of precarious balance.

Dining table with clear glass legs and solid wood top.
Credit: Lago
Home with cantilevered dining room.
Credit: Splyce Design – Ph: Ivan Hunter
Exterior cantilever pillar feature supporting a huge rock that seems teetering.
Credit: Spasm Design – Ph: Photographix

playing safe with risk

Risk features are clearly not suitable for all situations or for everybody. But there is one instance of risk that is less extreme yet equally effective: the risk of getting wet.

Examples of it would be a floating pathway across a water pond, or a hammock sitting on top of a pool.

A floating pathway across a water pond.
Credit: Iván Quizhpe Arquitectos – Ph: Sebastián Crespo
Hammock hanging over a pool.
Credit: Enrique Cabrera – Ph: Tamara Uribe

Risk features are one way of recreating natural layouts. Together with prospect, refuge and mystery, they can transform a space from uninteresting to highly stimulating and engaging.

* Sources

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