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Healthy Organic Interiors Draw Inspiration from History

Posted by Elizabeth Burton on

Healthy Organic Interiors Draw Inspiration from History | Living Deep

Humans are feeling a greater need to be connected to nature

"Humans are feeling a greater need to be connected to nature and you will see elements of the ‘great outdoors’ infusing interior design." "These Will Be the Top Design Trends of 2020,"  Mikki Brammer, Architectural Digest

Organic materials and colors from nature have both emerged as huge interior design trends in 2020. These trends are projected to continue their reign in 2021. Infusing homes with elements from nature has become popular due to our renewed desire for healthy organic interiors, an interest echoed here at Living Deep. Ranging from deep, saturated shades to soft pastels, colors inspired by nature were chosen by every paint and coatings manufacturer this year. For example, Pantone’s 2020 Color of the Year was “Classic Blue” (19-4052), a jewel-toned nearly-navy. Benjamin Moore’s 2020 Color of the Year was “First Light” -- soft shell pink -- and their 2021 Color of the Year is “Aegean Teal.” Dunn-Edwards color of the year in 2020 was “Minty Fresh” while Behr’s was a sage-green shade entitled “Back to Nature.” The complementary palettes announced for each house paint giant’s Color of the Year 2020 were rife with other organic shades. They included shades from those inspired by the desert to those associated with forests and coastlines. Each of these colors was chosen by their respective company to represent a certain goal or evoke an emotion. “Classic Blue” was intended to encourage reflection and tranquility, while “First Light” represented potential and hope for the future. Behr’s choice focused on new beginnings and looking towards the future, while remaining grounded. Every one of these moods and goals remain appropriate as we shift into 2021.

Organic materials have also dominated interiors -- and patio -- trends in recent months. Rattan and wicker found their way back into style when “Grandmillennial” design established a foothold. Pale, unvarnished woods rose to popularity in response to global penchant for Japanese and Scandinavian interiors. Dark hardwoods like maple and rosewood were also breakout stars in 2020 as affection for Art Deco and Arts & Crafts Movement elements reappeared. The rising market for houseplants during the COVID-19 pandemic -- representing growing desire for a healthy and more natural interior -- should be recognized. Consumers have turned towards natural colors and organic materials for home health as well as aesthetics. Follow below to learn more about the benefits of filling one’s home with organic materials and natural colors. 

Healthy Organic Interiors Support Physical and Mental Well-Being

Physical Health

Natural toxins are reduced by organic materials

"Using natural materials, like silk or wool, or even water-based finishes, can do a lot to reduce toxins in the home." "3 key ways how natural materials can create a calm, energising home," Olivia Heath, House Beautiful

The majority of us are well-aware of the health benefits offered by clean, organic foods. However, there are a number of evidence-backed benefits to choosing natural materials in home furnishings, finishings and building materials. Firstly, as discussed in our article about fast furniture, in contrast with natural pieces, synthetic furniture poses a number of dangers to human health. We explained that “fast furniture components...are all prone to off-gassing.” These components include "like synthetic upholstery, particle board, some paints and coatings -- toxic flame retardants -- plastics and manufactured wood." Off-gassing occurs when volatile substances convert from solid to gas at room temperature. This process infuses the surrounding air -- breathed in by humans and pets -- with toxic chemicals. Some of these chemicals have dangerous effects on human health, including skin reactions, cognitive issues and cancers in extreme cases. 

Affordable furniture upholstery, cheap bookcases and chests of drawers and inexpensive rugs -- and some flooring and insulation materials -- contain synthetic materials prone to off-gassing. Harmful off-gassing can occur long after that “new carpet” smell dissipates -- sometimes for the entire lifetime of the product. Conversely, organic materials off-gas very little -- aside from the acetic and formic acid produced by some woods. When they do off-gas, they rarely do so for their entire lifetime or in harmful amounts. In an article for House Beautiful, Olivia Heath recommends swapping out synthetic materials with wood and metal wherever possible to improve physical health. She writes that “using natural materials, like silk or wool, or even water-based finishes, can do a lot to reduce toxins in the home.” One of the easiest ways to “bring nature into your home is to replace PVC windows with those made from solid wood." 

Mental Health

Exposure to nature improves mental health

“[Exposure to natural elements] reduces anger, fear, and stress and increases pleasant feelings,” University of Minnesota

Views to and other connections with nature are indisputably associated with improved mental health and shortened recovery time from psychiatric episodes. In fact, a recent study by Hyunju Jo, et. al for the Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health found simply viewing nature helps. The researchers found that “viewing elements of nature would be useful for preventive medicine, specifically nature therapy.” This was supported by the fact that looking at images of nature demonstrated psychological and “physiological relaxation.” Furthermore -- notes a brief published by the University of Minnesota -- exposure to natural elements “reduces anger, fear, and stress and increases pleasant feelings.” Including organic materials in the home “not only makes you feel better emotionally." It also "contributes to your physical well-being, reducing blood pressure, heart rate, muscle tension, and the production of stress hormones.” Excitingly, exposure to nature “may even reduce mortality.”

Combining Luxury and Nature - No Longer Mutually Exclusive

Simple cabins in the woods certainly suffice for a week-long getaway. However, today’s homeowners are searching for a way to combine luxury and nature. They hope to avoid the sacrifice of style and amenities that often accompanies eco-friendly living. One of the ways in which luxury and organic interiors have combined over the past year is through the revival of previous design movements. Elements inspired by the Art Deco and Arts & Crafts Movements -- the precursors of Mid-Century Modern design -- have reemerged in high-end interiors magazines throughout 2020. The opulence of the Art Deco Movement of the 1930s has combined with the social consciousness of the 19th century Arts & Crafts Movement.

Reviving the Spirit of the Arts & Crafts Movement

Mass production means less individuality

"Mass production methods have led to an abundance of choices for consumers but with that comes a loss of individuality and quality.” Emma Taggart, “The Revival of the Arts and Crafts Movement and the Artisans Behind It” for My Modern Met

Emma Taggart writes in her article “The Revival of the Arts and Crafts Movement” for My Modern Met, that the movement has modern implications. She notes that care for the planet and desire to support local craftsmen has spurred renewed interest in the Arts & Crafts Movement. Taggart writes that the growing interest in home decor produced by local artisans has indeed come from a place of eco-consciousness. It has also emerged from a desire to create a more personal space at home. She explains that “in the last few decades...mass production methods have led to an abundance of choices for consumers." However, "with that comes a loss of individuality and quality.” Today -- as in the late 19th century -- consumers are turning from cookie-cutter, mass-produced items as they recognize the social and health dangers associated with such pieces. 

During the Arts & Crafts Movement, craftsmen and their supporters turned towards natural materials and simpler -- yet more personal -- designs. They did so in order to push against increasing industrialization and dwindling workers’ rights. Today, consumers have become choosier due to concern over poor factory working conditions. They are also concerned about the environmental damage caused by lightning-quick, fossil fuel-driven trans-global shipping and the human health costs of off-gassing. Today, those creating handmade or small-batch interiors products have been bolstered by the cross-over of growing interest in their pieces and tech. Taggart explains that today’s artisan-made interiors pieces delight us because they “each [have] their own unique approach, and materials." Furthermore, "they value the traditional crafts of the past, but add a modern twist.”

Recalling the Decadence of Art Deco

Art Deco interiors are always in style

"The Art Deco trend inspires high contrast and dramatic spaces, which can be seen in more color saturation, brass, chrome, and luxurious or unexpected materials, such as velvet, concrete, inlay, marble, lacquer, fringe, and smoked glass,” Modsy VP Allessandra Wood, quoted by Julia Brenner in her article "Interior Design Expert Explains Why Art Deco is Forever on Trend” for Forbes

The revival of Art Deco design in 2020 has signaled a shift from the muted, minimalist affectation previously associated with biophilic interiors. Today, natural interiors include elements of glamour and personality. In their article “Art Deco Revival is the Luxe Interior Design Trend of 2020,” Wescover notes that statement-making pieces can be substantial and flashy. We forget that organic materials include granite, marble, crystals and shells. Instead, we assume wood and greenery are our sole two options for creating a nature-inspired interior. The 2020 revival of the Art Deco movement of the 1920s and 1930s of this alternative application -- a hundred years later. The “Art Deco Revival is all about incorporating elements from the...1920s while also making it practical for the modern designer.” This means choosing “pieces created from natural materials [that] elevate the style” of any home.

In her article “Interior Design Expert Explains Why Art Deco is Forever on Trend” for Forbes, Julia Brenner speaks with Modsy VP Allesandra Wood. Wood explains that “the Art Deco trend inspires high contrast and dramatic spaces." These "can be seen in more color saturation, brass, chrome, and luxurious or unexpected materials." These unexpected materials include "velvet, concrete, inlay, marble, lacquer, fringe, and smoked glass.” Many of these popular elements -- e.g. shell inlay, marble and glass -- correspond to an interest in organic materials while elevating them for luxury interiors. Wood supports this statement, noting that “today, we’re seeing geometric patterns and a rise in material investments, such as marble and burl wood.” Consumers have turned towards vintage and antique furniture in opposition to mass-produced pieces. Art Deco screens, sideboards, fireplaces, bar stools and club chairs have flourished on sites like 1stDibs and Chairish in recent months. This surge dispels popular opinion that antiques have no market to speak of. 

Excitingly, the health benefits of biophilic, organic interiors are no longer at odds with luxury and individualistic design. We have demonstrated their crossover through our partnerships at Living Deep. Stunning spaces can be created when designers seek inspiration from both the Art Deco and Arts & Crafts Movements. By remembering the positive health impacts of natural materials in the home, we can move towards creating more beautiful and nourishing interior environments.


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