Discover the Principles of Biophilic Design, Behind The Scenes with Angela Cheung.

One of the Decorcafe’s most recent events gave us the opportunity to learn more about the emerging trend of biophilic design. In a behind the scenes tour of designer, Angela Cheung’s most recent development, Lesser Foxholes in West Sussex, here’s what we discovered:

First an explanation for the uninitiated! Biophilia translates literally as ‘love of life’ but in a nutshell, it is the idea that humans have an inherited need to connect to nature. The theory was first advanced by the American biologist, Edward O’Wilson in 1984 when he noticed that increasing urbanisation was leading to a disconnection with the natural world and having an adverse impact on physical and emotional wellbeing. This philosophy has been researched and tested over the years but is only now gaining traction in architectural and interior design.

So much for the theory, here are some of the principles and how they are implemented at The Lodge, Lesser Foxholes.

Maximising exposure to natural light reduces stress, wards off depression and improves sleep. Angela’s involvement with the Lesser Foxholes development from very early on allowed her to have substantial impact at the planning stage. Placing windows and reflective surfaces so as to optimise natural light not only makes ecological sense, it also benefits the occupants physically and mentally.

Below you will see this, more innovatively, takes the form of a glazed transition area:

Incorporating elements of nature into the built environment: the most common example is the use of plants but naturally occurring shapes, patterns and materials (termed biomimicry) also reinforce the sense of nature.

Maximising views of the landscape and access to outside space, natural light streams through the floor-to-ceiling glass doors – unfettered by curtains or blinds – and invites the occupiers to enjoy the landscape from within or without.

Creating restorative areas. This is an obvious consideration for environments such as hospitals and other health facilities but is just as important for work and home settings. Angela staged this area as a retreat where potential occupants might practice yoga or meditation.

Natural materials, textures and patterns are the perfect foil to our over technologically advanced world. Here the use of oak and a variety of other woods in furniture, a woven raffia table runner and the decorative grasses in the vase all reinforce a connection to nature. Colours and materials take their cue from the local environment which includes the natural stone and burnt driftwood of the Shoreham coast.

The traditional ledge and brace, stable doors give a sense of place and hint at a connection to another, simpler, time when the plot was the site of a farmhouse with views of the estuary. And the vaulted ceiling adds to the airy and spacious feel as well as taking your eye up rather than down.

Soft chalky walls and engineered wood floors are both fresh and luxurious.

Angela originally trained as a graphic designer, launching her interior brand in 2020. She is passionate about examining how we live and creating living spaces which engage all the senses and address the increasing demands on our emotional and physical wellbeing.

Angela stresses that it is vital that a designer understands a project’s intent – what are the health or performance priorities of the intended users whether that is educational, medical or professional – as there are well-recognised ways of enhancing learning, promoting good health and recovery and increasing productivity. So we all have something to gain.

But this also makes sense from a commercial perspective. Angela’s use of the marketing materials below give buyers a sense of authenticity and provenance, as well as inspiring them with ideas on the property’s potential.

The distinctive branding proved effective, the Lodge, featured above, was under offer in less than a week.

Angela’s extensive skills include space planning, interior design, styling and staging, project management, branding and marketing. Moving forward, Angela’s main focus is to educate others in Biophilic design techniques, by offering bespoke consultations and group talks.

If you are interested in hearing more, please connect with Angela below.

Angela Cheung