Biophilic design: the many uses of plants in interiors

in Biophilic Design

Plants are the most commonly mentioned biophilic design element.
And there are many good reasons to add plants in interiors! Plants add life to any space, can help create a connection with seasonal changes, strengthen local identity and clean the air.

Adding greenery to interiors opens a whole world of choices and possibilities.
In particular, plants are not just decorative and can serve a number of functions in interior spaces!

So let’s review some of the less common – yet equally impressive – uses of plants in interiors!

Partitioning the space

Creating a room divider with plants is an option that applies to homes, commercial spaces and workplaces alike.
Plant partitions create privacy without closing the space up completely. Light can still pass through, which preserves an airy feel in the room and maintains prospect views. According to the specific case, plant dividers can also help to achieve a sense of mystery or create a refuge corner.

Room divider made with draping plants secured on an arched structure.<span class="sr-only"> (opened in a new window/tab)</span>
Credit: Plant the Future (opened in a new window/tab)
Floor-to-ceiling room divider made with frames filled with moss.<span class="sr-only"> (opened in a new window/tab)</span>
Credit: Monamour Natural Design (opened in a new window/tab)
Simple planter used to partition the space in a small apartment.<span class="sr-only"> (opened in a new window/tab)</span>
Credit: Olesia Zhuk (via Behance) (opened in a new window/tab)

Adding a layer of texture

Plants always add an interesting textural element. And when layered over a flat surface, this effect is even more marked.
Textures in interiors contribute to wellbeing in that they introduce a multi-sensory feature that can be looked at, touched and smelt, making the overall design more engaging.

Draping plants add texture to the smooth surface of a shower wall.<span class="sr-only"> (opened in a new window/tab)</span>
Credit: Kind of Oj (via Vogue) (opened in a new window/tab)
Frosted glass wall showing the texture of plants placed behind it.<span class="sr-only"> (opened in a new window/tab)</span>
Credit: Autori (opened in a new window/tab) – Photo by Relja Ivanić

Creating a focal point

Plants draw the eye. So they’re an ideal candidate to create impressive focal points in interiors!
Living walls are a great example, but they’re not the only option! Draping or potted plants can also be styled to add a point of interest. And since this doesn't require structural changes, it's also a great solution for rented spaces!

Draping plants into hexagonal frames behind a sofa.<span class="sr-only"> (opened in a new window/tab)</span>
Credit: Sandra Moura (opened in a new window/tab)
Neon sign applied over a layer of plants in a café.<span class="sr-only"> (opened in a new window/tab)</span>
Credit: Ihor Skrypnyk (via Behance) (opened in a new window/tab)

Highlighting distinctive features

When used wisely, plants can drive attention to a specific feature of the design.
For instance, they can follow architectural lines or highlight the transition between different materials.

Bedroom with hanging plants highlighting the vaulted ceiling.<span class="sr-only"> (opened in a new window/tab)</span>
Credit: Botan Çağdavul (via Instagram) (opened in a new window/tab)
Draping ivy plant highlighting a finish transition on a wall.<span class="sr-only"> (opened in a new window/tab)</span>
Credit: Studio Effetto (via Behance) (opened in a new window/tab)

Disguising unwanted features

On the other hand, plants can also disguise unwanted features or make sense of funky elements of the space.
A column right in the middle of a room gains a whole different appeal when covered in plants. And what about disguising an ugly backsplash with a garden wall design?

Columns in the middle of a room entirely covered with plants.<span class="sr-only"> (opened in a new window/tab)</span>
Credit: Creaplant (opened in a new window/tab)
Kitchen back wall covered in plants.<span class="sr-only"> (opened in a new window/tab)</span>
Credit: Avantgarde Vegan (via Instagram) (opened in a new window/tab)

Changing the perceived scale

The way in which the size of a plant relates to the other elements in a room affects the overall perception of scale.
A plant that goes up the ceiling will make the entire room feel taller, giving a visual clue of the actual height of the space!

Living room with low furniture and an oversized plant.<span class="sr-only"> (opened in a new window/tab)</span>
Credit: House of Grey (opened in a new window/tab) – Photo by Rory Gardiner
Room with tall plants highlighting the high ceilings.<span class="sr-only"> (opened in a new window/tab)</span>
Credit: SAI Architectural Design Office (opened in a new window/tab)

Providing shade

Plants are a natural way to create shade. Tall and draping plants can effectively substitute (or complement) curtains and shades, improving thermal comfort both indoors and outdoors.

Kitchen shaded by outdoor draping plants.<span class="sr-only"> (opened in a new window/tab)</span>
Credit: MIA Design Studio (opened in a new window/tab)
Boxy building with protruding balconies filled with plants.<span class="sr-only"> (opened in a new window/tab)</span>
Credit: MIA Design Studio (opened in a new window/tab)

Growing food

Edible plants come with the extra advantage of providing fresh and zero-km cooking ingredients. Herbs are the most common option, but other fruits & vegetables can also be planted in a small indoor garden.

Population growth forecasts even suggest that growing our own food (at least in part) will become a necessity going forward. This topic has also been discussed during IKEA Democratic Design Days 2019. And the Swedish giant is already working on solutions to grow food in small spaces.

Hanging herb planters in a contemporary kitchen.<span class="sr-only"> (opened in a new window/tab)</span>
Credit: Kohler (via Houzz) (opened in a new window/tab)

Adding art & décor

Last but not least, what indoor plants are mostly used for – décor.
From sculptural vessels, to hanging vases and moss artworks... There are a million and one ways to complement a design with a living finishing touch!

Wall vase filled with moss and living plants.<span class="sr-only"> (opened in a new window/tab)</span>
Credit: Green Love (opened in a new window/tab)
Propagation wall: leaves in small tube vessels hanging on the wall.<span class="sr-only"> (opened in a new window/tab)</span>
Credit: Vintage Revival (opened in a new window/tab)
Moss artwork.<span class="sr-only"> (opened in a new window/tab)</span>
Credit: Greenstems (via Instagram) (opened in a new window/tab)
Wall frame filled with living plants.<span class="sr-only"> (opened in a new window/tab)</span>
Credit: The Design Umbrella (via Instagram) (opened in a new window/tab)
Graphic hanging planters.<span class="sr-only"> (opened in a new window/tab)</span>
Credit: Bolia (opened in a new window/tab)

 
Adding plants to interiors has multiple advantages. But looking at greenery as a piece of décor is reductive!
With the appropriate design thought behind, plants can serve many different functions, becoming decorative and practical at the same time!

Silvia's signature

Share this post

Comments

Don't be shy, let me know what you think!

Newsletter

Join 100+ biophilic and sustainable design enthusiasts on the monthly newsletter.
I'll never share your email with third parties and you can unsubscribe at any time.

Sustainable Product Picks
Scroll