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anooi a nourishing intent

earth day 2020: embracing the 4 elements with biophilic design

in biophilic design

22 April, Earth Day, a moment to pause and celebrate the special place we get to live on. In fact though, appreciating our beautiful planet should not be a once-a-year thing; it should be every day. In the field of interiors, biophilic design embraces the celebration of nature as a mission. From natural colours, textures and shapes, to the feelings that nature evokes.

In these pages, we’re delving into biophilic interiors from different perspectives: exploring the “tools” of biophilic design, looking into home applications room-by-room as well as other interior spaces like offices and gyms.

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, let’s do something a little different. Let’s look at interiors that incorporate the 4 building blocks of the natural world: Air, Water, Earth and Fire.

Moodboard showing the 4 elements in interiors. 1. a curtain swinging in the wind 2. a fountain in a patio 3. a branch used as decor 4. a fireplace in a minimal living room.
Credits (from left): Junctions90, Nathan Burkett, Elena Sedova (via Behance), Luypaert Interieur – Ph: Stijn Vereeken.


Natural air is essential for interiors to feel alive. Letting some fresh air in is one of the first advices for lowering indoor air pollution. And the image of a curtain moved by a light breeze evokes a unique calm and homey feeling. But air goes together with light. It’s not by chance that we call airy a space that feels open and is flooded with natural light. If an open window is the way to enjoy natural air indoors, indoor-outdoor living spaces are the quintessential example. Blurring the boundaries between indoor and outdoor, they create a space to really enjoy the pleasure of freely circulating air.

Contemporary living room with full-height windows looking into the ocean.
Credit: Mim Design
Living-dining area with glazed walls and a garden outside.
Credit: Junctions90


Water is freshness. It is gentle yet resilient and – given enough time – it can carve stone. Both looking and listening to moving water has an incredibly grounding effect on our brain. It provides relief from stress and helps concentration. All incredibly worthwhile reasons to incorporate water features indoors. Generally speaking, water features aren’t that common, but exploring their potential opens plenty of possibilities for wellbeing-centered interiors!

Black stone wall with water fountains at different heights.
Credit: Charged Voids (via Archdaily) - Photo by Nakul Jain
Water wall used as room divider.
Credit: Remy Architects


Earth is our safe harbour. It’s not by chance that we aim at getting more grounded when we’re feeling anxious or unsettled. Tactile surfaces, greenery and other rich textures are all earthy elements in interiors. And their materiality is what sets them apart. Earth features engage the most ancestral of our senses – touch – creating spaces that go way beyond aesthetics.

Dining room with a total beige palette and plenty of overlapping textures.
Credit: Elena Sedova (via Behance)
Kitchen and dining area with statement table made with a stunning wood trunk.
Credit: Bia Hajnal Arquitetura
Entrance hall with plenty of textures.
Credit: Sergey Makhno Architecs


Fire is wild energy which needs to be treated with caution. Its heat makes winter nights cozier, but it can burn if we get too close. Fire is light that shines in the dark and its appeal is unique and timeless. So much so that a fireplace is still the most requested focal point in living rooms! New technologies are multiplying the options for fireplaces, making the charm of fire more accessible for all living situations.

Contemporary bathroom with sunken bathtub and minimal fireplace.
Credit: Antonio Lupi (via Instagram)
Living room with earthy palette and fireplace.
Credit: Flexform (via Archilovers)
Total white minimal living room with black fireplace as a focal point.
Credit: Luypaert Interieur – Ph: Stijn Vereeken

Interiors that incorporate the 4 elements feel alive and more engaging, reviving our brains’ innate reactions to nature. Also, seeing Air, Water, Earth and Fire features around us acts as a reminder to appreciate and enjoy our beautiful environment, every single day!

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