Where biophilic and monochrome meet

in Biophilic Design

Can biophilic design live into monochrome interiors?

A monochrome scheme is one that limits the colour choice to one (or variations of one same colour).
So the question is, can one recreate the richness of a natural environment using basically just one colour?
I say yes.

Shifting the focus

Colour inherently catches the eye. By harmonizing colours in a space, the eye is given a chance to go one step further and focus on other elements: shapes and textures in particular.

From a design perspective, a monochrome interior is also a creative exercise. Colours are often presented as a tool to add interest, tie a space together and add character. Which is true, but I believe that all three things can be done equally well in a monochrome interior.

White textured vases containing white stems on a white background.<span class="sr-only"> (opened in a new window/tab)</span>
Credit: Palecek (opened in a new window/tab)

Texture and shape

If colour is out of the equation, textures and shapes become key.
Looking closer, textures reveal a personality of their own. Rough, etched, fluffy, smooth…

Juxtaposing textures and mixing their personalities will then be what defines the vibe. And the biophilic side will still be fulfilled by turning to nature-inspired textures and fractals.

The same is true for shapes. Clear-cut, organic, tapered, sculptural…
Each shape conveys a feeling and the choice of a shape over another contributes to the identity of the space.
For instance, shapes play an essential role in evoking mystery or prospect. And a curved and collected shape is ideal for a refuge corner.

Beige interior with patterned wall and floor adding character.<span class="sr-only"> (opened in a new window/tab)</span>
Credit: Drop it Modern (opened in a new window/tab)
Total-brown office area with rich wood texture on the wall.<span class="sr-only"> (opened in a new window/tab)</span>
Credit: Sivak Partners (opened in a new window/tab)

Light

How light hits surfaces and objects in a space is always important in interior design. Even more in this case, textures will come to life and shapes stand out from the background - adding interest to any room.

Beige vase with a rough textured surface.<span class="sr-only"> (opened in a new window/tab)</span>
Credit: Bombabird Ceramics (opened in a new window/tab)
Neutral armchiar with a wavy detailing that catches the light.<span class="sr-only"> (opened in a new window/tab)</span>
Credit: Bernhardt Furniture (opened in a new window/tab)

Beyond sight

Engaging the senses is key to biophilic design. And monochrome interiors offer a unique sensory experience.
Without marked colour variations, the brain will search elsewhere for clues about the space. Translated, other senses will take over.

Rich textures will be an invite to the touch, together with other tactile features (like varying surface temperatures).
More attention will be paid to sounds and scents, that will become a distinctive element of the space.
And what about movements? They will also contribute to adding interest.

Neutral bedroom with juxtaposed textiles in the same colours.<span class="sr-only"> (opened in a new window/tab)</span>
Credit: Mathilda Stjärnfeldt (opened in a new window/tab)
Neutral monochrome bathroom.<span class="sr-only"> (opened in a new window/tab)</span>
Credit: Jasmin Kodzha (opened in a new window/tab)

In practical terms, the same can be obtained with two colours - a base and an accent. The focus is still beyond colours and into sensory elements.

Neutral living room with black accents.<span class="sr-only"> (opened in a new window/tab)</span>
Credit: Stones and Walls (opened in a new window/tab)
Bathroom with green bathtub and walls and brown fixtures.<span class="sr-only"> (opened in a new window/tab)</span>
Credit: Concrete Nation (opened in a new window/tab)

Monochrome in nature

Back to our opening question: can one recreate the richness of a natural environment using basically just one colour?

Actually, monochrome inspiration is found in nature as well.
Ocean and sky paint a variation of blues, tree canopies are all green and the inside of a cave is basically all brown to sight. And still, neither of these natural environments feels dull or uninteresting.

So I say yes, biophilic design and monochrome interiors can definitely go together!

Ocean and sky meet.<span class="sr-only"> (opened in a new window/tab)</span>
Credit: Thomas Vimare (opened in a new window/tab)
Helicopter view of a forest.<span class="sr-only"> (opened in a new window/tab)</span>
Credit: Geran de Klerk (opened in a new window/tab)
A cave lit by a ray of natural light.<span class="sr-only"> (opened in a new window/tab)</span>
Credit: Ivana Cajina (opened in a new window/tab)
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