Bringing the Outside Inside Your Home


This article is part of our latest Design special report, which is about crossing the borders of space, time and media.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, Americans spend about 90 percent of their time indoors. If the experience of sheltering in a pandemic has taught us anything, it is the outscaled importance of that other 10 percent.

“Being in nature drops our cortisol levels, makes us calmer, reduces anxiety and improves our mood,” said Bea Pila-Gonzalez, an interior designer in Miami. “It’s a physical yearning. We are hungry for the experience of what the outdoors brings to us.”

This appetite is the subject of a newly released book, “Biophilia: You + Nature + Home” (Kyle Books, $21.99). The author is Sally Coulthard, an interior designer and writer based in North Yorkshire, England. She recounts how biophilia, the idea that humans are viscerally wired to feel a communion with the natural world, has shifted from a hypothesis espoused by the biologist Edward O. Wilson and others to the emergence of urban beekeeping, increasingly diverse city gardens and wild ideas for residences and workplaces.

He said from 2018 to 2019, he received a 67 percent increase in commissions. But a slice of the outside does not come cheap. He charges $20,000 for a 10-by-10-foot wall, for which he uses more than 600 plants, including philodendrons, orchids, African violets and xanthium. “Each is purposely placed to create a visual ordered chaos,” he said. The “colors, natural patterns of the plants and textures are something we deeply resonate with.”


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