Garden room: a new take on biophilic design

in Biophilic Design

It’s safe to say that biophilic design is having a spike in popularity.
This rising interest has also been captured in the annual trend research carried out by Pinterest, which compiles a list of emerging trends based on users’ searches.
Among the rest, this report has detected a growing interest in garden rooms, with +104% searches.

And in fact, garden rooms are a very interesting – and quite unusual – way to introduce biophilic design in a space.
So let’s talk a bit more about them!

What is a garden room?

Simply put, a garden room is a space where the key furnishings are…plants.
The idea is creating a room dedicated to greenery, a sort of private indoor garden where one can escape for a unique unwinding moment.

A garden room also brings the opportunity to engage with plants with all our senses. Besides being looked at, those plants can also be touched, smelled and heard, providing a fully immersive experience.

A sofa surrounded by tall plants.<span class="sr-only"> (opened in a new window/tab)</span>
Credit: Six Gallery (via Instagram) (opened in a new window/tab)

The reason behind garden rooms

In Pinterest’s research, garden rooms are included in the Home-Hub category. Essentially, this theme covers the fact that homes are becoming the background of many activities that used to be done elsewhere.
From office to gym, homes are multifunctional like never before. And in this context, garden rooms come as a new space, entirely dedicated to nature.

A seating area in a room with a vertical garden on the side and more plants hanging from the ceiling.<span class="sr-only"> (opened in a new window/tab)</span>
Credit: mf+Arquitetos (opened in a new window/tab)

An important clarification is needed here.
Spending time outdoors in nature is always going to be beneficial and garden rooms should not be seen as a complete substitute to that. From birds singing to a light breeze, there are many elements that make the experience of nature so rich.

But still, a garden room can be a supplement to that. An indoor space where plants are protagonists might create the opportunity to spend more time in contact with nature when outdoor nature is not close by, for instance in the middle of the city.

An indoor garden room with hanging sofa.<span class="sr-only"> (opened in a new window/tab)</span>
Credit: Bon Ton (via Houzz) (opened in a new window/tab)

How to create a garden room

So what are the features of a good garden room? To summarize, there are 4 key ingredients:

1. Numerous and different plants

If plants need to be the main element in the room, quantity is clearly going to count, but it's not everything.
Variety is a distinctive feature of the natural world and it’s also one of biophilic design’s tools to best reproduce the "ordered complexity of nature" in interiors.
So the ideal garden room will put together many plants of different species.

Tall room full of plants with a dining table in the middle.<span class="sr-only"> (opened in a new window/tab)</span>
Credit: Design by Rose Uniacke (via Gardenista) (opened in a new window/tab) - Photo by Matthew Williams

2. A varied arrangement

Placing plants at different heights will give movement and make the experience even more engaging. This can be easily achieved by playing with the height of the plants themselves, plus with a combination of floor and hanging vases.

A seating area with plants at different heights.<span class="sr-only"> (opened in a new window/tab)</span>
Credit: Six Gallery (via Instagram) (opened in a new window/tab)

3. Going beyond plants

Plants aside, what else makes a good garden room?
It goes without saying that natural light will need to be abundant in a garden room, as it’s essential for most plants to thrive.
Additionally, indoor water features can also be used. And the design can play with prospect, refuge and risk to make the space even more intriguing.

An armchair on the corner of a room, surrounded by plants and separated with a room divider from the rest of the room.<span class="sr-only"> (opened in a new window/tab)</span>
Credit: Revista Habitare (opened in a new window/tab) - Photo Edison Garcia

4. An inviting ambiance

If it looks like a messy point of storage for random plants, a garden room has no reason to exist.
Therefore, it’s important to keep the design balanced and not just stuff all the available space with greenery! This would actually turn the room into an overwhelming and oppressive space, totally defeating its purpose.
Also, it’s important to create a welcoming ambiance around all these plants, one that invites to spend time in that space. An armchair & side table moment is the first idea that comes to mind, and would actually be a great way to carve a dedicated space for relaxation at home.
But this is just one of the options, which leads me to the next point...

Indoor of a café with plants at different heights around the tables.<span class="sr-only"> (opened in a new window/tab)</span>
Credit: Café Vitória - Acanthus Magazine (via Instagram) (opened in a new window/tab)

Any room can be a garden room

Strictly speaking, a garden room is supposed to be a separate room dedicated to plants. But – in a world where living spaces are getting smaller and smaller – it’s likely that the overall space will just not be enough to create a garden room for its own sake…

So why not turning another room into a garden room?
Living area, home office, kitchen, bathroom, corridors… every room can be transformed into a sanctuary for plants as well as for us!

And if the available space is really small, a garden room can even become a garden corner! In this case, vertical gardens would come in particularly handy to add greenery without taking up too much space.

Big vertical garden on a contemporary living room.<span class="sr-only"> (opened in a new window/tab)</span>
Credit: Sergey Makhno (opened in a new window/tab)
View of a bed with a variety of plants behind it.<span class="sr-only"> (opened in a new window/tab)</span>
Credit: Красюк Сергей (via Houzz) (opened in a new window/tab)

The concept of a garden room can be applied out of private homes as well.
Some public spaces like the Sky Garden in London and Jewel Changi Airport in Shanghai have grabbed the opportunity creating stunning interiors where plants make a good share of the design.

View of the indoors of the Sky Garden in London.<span class="sr-only"> (opened in a new window/tab)</span>
Credit: Sky Garden by Gillespies (via Instagram) (opened in a new window/tab)
Indoor forest in Jewel Changi Airport in Shanghai.<span class="sr-only"> (opened in a new window/tab)</span>
Credit: Jewel Changi Airport by Safdie Architects (via Dezeen) (opened in a new window/tab) - Photo by Charu Kokate

To conclude, garden rooms are essentially another way of incorporating plants indoors. An example of Nature in the Space, to say it in biophilic design terms!

And beauty is not all there is to them.
Garden rooms and – more in general – greener interiors, buildings and cities are going to play an important role in shaping a more sustainable world, making human living spaces healthier for us and better for the environment.

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