Biophilic Designs: what is it and why is it so popular?

We as human beings crave nature. It has been our home, our habitat for millennia. Yet, centuries of modernization, by way of industrialization, have further strengthened the divide between man and nature. Gone are the dense thickets of trees and the clean, fresh air. Instead, our world has become digitized and disconnected. For many living in cities or suburbs, the sound of rustling leaves has been replaced with the sound of traffic. The sight of lush greens has been replaced with concrete walls and floors.

It’s no wonder that apps to help with sleep can play sounds like running water and rain, or even the croaks of frogs and chirps of crickets.


Biophilic design has seen a significant increase in interest and popularity. Biophilia translates as a love of nature, thus biophilic design incorporates many characteristics of nature. A perfect example is the living wall: a tear down of the concrete walls to which we’ve become so accustomed and instead an exchange for real living plants.

Biophilic design should not be confused, necessarily, with green design. Green designs usually signify a design that reduces a carbon footprint, or an environmentally conscious design. While it aims to protect the natural world, green design does not reconnect us to it.

The idea behind biophilic design is to recreate the natural world within an interior world. A significant turn from common design – modern designs generally incorporate symmetrical shapes and layouts, something that is not often found in nature – biophilic design truly is meant to recreate the world from which human beings first emerged.


Nature doesn’t just look nice – it will actually draw us in and captivate us. We are suckers for nature, or at least our brains are. Take, for example, a person who says they are not a nature person. Hiking can be exhausting, the bugs and the dirt can be a nuisance. Camping can become scary – a wolf howl, reports of a bear sighting, or no warm water in which to take a bath! Natural outings might not always be pleasing, but the images and the smells of a natural outing may have a different effect. Consider how popular photographs of landscapes, mountains, and rushing waters are. Or candles that are meant to recreate the scents of a pine trees or sweet florals.

It goes beyond just a poster of a tree, though. Sensory connections with nature can actually have surprising effects on human beings. Natural spaces can affect our ability to heal, both physically and mentally. Imagery and sound alone is enough to have an impact on the human brain. Researchers in Sweden found that after a particularly stressful math test, the heart rates of participants who watched nature scenes returned to their normal rates significantly faster than that of those who sat in a plain room. In Japan, walking through forests is considered a form of healing. Biophilic designs in physical stores actually increases the number of customers who enter, and also increases spending. Classrooms with natural scenery score higher on tests. Even an office becomes more productive and happier when biophilic design is incorporated.

In short, biophilic design does more than just aesthetics.


Perhaps the most well-known and commonly-used method of biophilic design integration is the living wall. A living wall is generally composed of different varieties of plants. A commonly used plant is moss; vibrant and plush, moss creates a unique design and aesthetic.

However, living walls are costly and can be difficult to install and maintain. Usually a heavy reinforced wall must be installed first, so as to provide support for the soil and other components of a living wall. After installation, constant care is required – specifications of sunlight and watering can become daunting and bothersome for some. Without proper care, the living plants can and will die, meaning added responsibility. When a plant dies, the dead plant and its roots are removed from the wall, and a new plant is generally installed. Without proper upkeep and replacement, a living wall can quickly turn into a huge hassle and eyesore.

Yet, when considering biophilic design, the first thought is almost always a living wall. A living wall is certainly an option, but it is certainly not for everyone. So, what are other options then?


While, again, a green wall is not for everyone, a preserved green wall is a simpler and less expensive form of the living wall. Preserved green walls usually come in the form of moss wall art: moss and ferns have their internal water replaced with glycerin so that the plant retains its liveliness, such as color and texture. This helps to stop wilting of the plants, but also means that there is no watering involved. Preservation essentially creates a green wall, but with absolutely none of the care.

Moss wall art is usually composed of mosses, like mood moss or sheet moss, and ferns and found wood. The artwork is highly customizable and can come in small or large sizes. Moss wall art, though, is meant to be indoors only. Excessive sunlight or exposure to the elements (like rain or wind) can actually wear the plants and the vibrancy can be lost. This is perhaps one of the bigger differences between a living wall and a preserved wall – living walls can be outdoors, but preserved walls should be kept indoors and away from direct sunlight as much as possible. (Sunlight is okay for preserved plants, but it shouldn’t be in direct sunlight for extended periods of time)

moss wall art


Perhaps one of the best options available is nature itself. The ability to incorporate this depends entirely on your location and the state of the interior environment. That is, if you do not live by a lot of natural space, then this option would not suite you. Also, if your interior space is difficult to modify, then again, this will not be the best option.

If you live next to a natural oasis, why not incorporate this in your design? Large windows or skylights are a simple way to incorporate biophilic design. If the interior space has not yet been built, a great idea is to orient a person’s view towards the outdoor space you wish to highlight. An example might be to build the building so that upon entering, you are greeted by the sight of the natural space outdoors.

Another option for biophilic design can include elements other than greenery. A common example is an indoor waterfall – a waterfall should attempt to look as “realistic” as possible. That is, design and embellishments should mimic natural waterfalls as closely as possible.

Thorncrown Chapel in Kansas

What are your thoughts on biophilic design? Would you want to incorporate it in your interior space? What option do you think would be best for you? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!

PAntone greenery color of the year door

Pantone Greenery: Small Decor Accents You Need

The sweet, fresh greens of a renewed spring, offset by the hazy warmth of the sun. This is the image Pantone’s 2017 color of the year, Greenery, is meant to evoke. The green-yellow color is meant to remind of us of “nature’s neutral,” as Pantone puts it. A breath of fresh air, a moment to disconnect from the digital world in which we find ourselves more and more submerged, a reminder of the environment hiding around us. It’s modern-day escapism at its finest.

Incorporating Pantone’s color of the year into your home or office will replenish and reconnect your space, transforming it into a serene sanctuary. For our list, we wanted to consider small pieces and accents to use in your space – rather than buying a new, large (and expensive!) couch, adding a throw on your existing couch will incorporate the color without dominating the room. We’ve compiled a list of five Pantone Greenery themed must-haves you need to embellish your space.

But first:

What exactly is Pantone’s color of the year?

Each year, Pantone reveals a symbolic color to represent the times, the aesthetic, the zeitgeist of the year to come. Pantone is a well-known for its Color Matching System, which standardizes pigments and colors. This allows for consistent color production for painters, fabric makers, and more.

Beginning in 2008, Pantone began holding secret meetings with similar companies from around the world. These meetings are where the color of the year is decided upon – it generally considers the emotions of the time to discover what color will represent the upcoming year. For example, in response to a more isolated and digital world, this year’s Pantone greenery is meant to bridge the disconnect that has taken place. The color of the year is published in Pantone’s color planner and quickly scooped up by designers, florists, textile makers, and more to inspire new products for the new year.

Now that you know all about Pantone’s color of the year, here are our top five décor items to bring into your space.


Pantone Greenery throw pillows

A throw pillow is a simple, yet effective method of bringing the Pantone color of the year into your home. Decorate a multitude of spaces with a throw pillow – a couch, a bed, an outdoor area. A throw pillow will bring a small, but concentrated burst of color into your home; and with throw pillows generally being inexpensive, you can easily place multiple pillows all around your home to ensure every room has a bright pop of green. It is easy to find a variety of throw pillows available in Pantone greenery, but we fell in love with Redbubble’s geometric ombre throw pillow. With a unique texture and brilliant color scheme, it is sure to catch the attention of your family and friends.

Pantone Greenery Throw Pillow

Redbubble Greenery Ombre Gradient Geometric Mesh; $19.17

Brighten your space with Greenery…and light!

Updating lighting fixtures in your home is another easy way to include Pantone Greenery in your space. Every home has a light fixture of some sort – standing lamps, hanging lights, wall fixtures, among many potential options.  A quick search on Greenery lamps will inundate you with a myriad of lighting options. For a quick and affordable choice, we went with Beautiful Halo’s industrial style light pendant. Dropping from the ceiling and illuminating the whole room, this hanging light is sure to please!

Beautiful Halo Industrial Style Light Pendant; $53.16

Serve up your Greenery in style

Invite your friends to enjoy the calming nature of Pantone Greenery by serving a meal and coffee, complete with beautifully green dinnerware. Dinnerware is another excellent option for a small touch of color. It is the perfect combination of functionality and beauty. Keep the dinnerware set in a china cabinet when not in use, so that the rich greens can highlight your room. A great option for a dinnerware set is the Noritake dinnerware set, which includes two plates, a bowl and a mug. If you want to have some Greenery dishes, but not an entire place setting, consider what kind of dinnerware you would most like. Do you usually have friends over for some coffee or tea? Or maybe plates are the more practical solution? Incorporate the color of the year with sets of whatever dinnerware you like!

Noritake Green Apple Dinnerware Collection; $39.99

DIY your own piece of Greenery furniture

Instead of searching for pre-made, pre-painted items, consider transforming a piece of furniture you already own! Ask yourself if there is a piece of furniture that could use a little sprucing up by way of a new coat of paint. We love the idea of painting side tables – the color brings an invigorating burst, but again is small enough as to not dominate. A great paint to use is Behr’s New Shoot paint, which you can get mixed at your local hardware shop. If you aren’t a strong DIYer, consider upgrades like sofa slipcovers or new bed sheets. It can brighten your space with almost no work.

Pantone Greenery DIY Table

Apply a fresh coat of paint to an accent table to freshen up your space.

Of course, moss wall art is the best option!

We may be a little biased, but we believe that to really transport the tranquility of nature, to really bridge that gap, the best answer is a piece of moss wall art. Moss wall art doesn’t just carry the color of nature; rather, it transplants a piece of the forest floor into your home. Bursting with various hues of green, WabiMoss’ moss wall art will work in any environment, from rustic to modern. Take a minute and just absorb the variety of colors, and just breathe. It is the perfect tool to meditate, to calm yourself or to simply enliven your interior environment. WabiMoss offers a variety of styles and sizes so that there is a moss wall art piece for everyone. The best part? Our moss wall art requires zero maintenance. Yes, you read that right! Unlike living walls, our artwork requires no water, no replacements, no heavy drywall, and no stress. Moss wall art is the simplest way to bring the green wall of your dreams into reality. Take a look through our shop, and we’re sure you’ll find something you’ll love!

hanging moss art

Moss wall art blends perfectly in a multitude of spaces and styles.

What are your thoughts on Pantone’s color of the year? What pieces of décor do you want to incorporate into your space? Find us on social media (at the bottom of the page), and tell us your thoughts!

The Depth of a Shallow Blue: What Nature Means to Me

Nature itself can be so inspiring, yet so broad a word – the drizzling spring rain against a backdrop of evergreens may inspire one, but the soft scuttle of an insect across grainy sand might inspire another.

Nature itself can be found in a canyon, untouched by man yet inhabited by many; or by the soft thistle of weeds, breaking out into the world by way of sidewalk cracks.

To me, nature is the inspiration in the world around us. It grabs the soul, fills the senses, and leaves us almost winded. The depth of shallow blue in the sky above, the smell of sweet florals, the symphony of chirps and whistles. All of it coherent and connected.

It brings a sense of rejuvenation, an awakening to the presence around us. Nature brings me joy and grounding. It fills me with wonder, yet helps my body stay rooted to the world I’m in. A walk through the park is like a mini retreat, a place I can go to clear my mind and focus my senses. I can smell the earth around me, hear the crunch of snapped twigs beneath my feet. I can feel the cool breeze pass gently across my face, and see a vivid display of bright colors and shapes.

The joy of immersing myself in nature is akin to the sheer delight a child feels as they walk into a theme park. The lights mesmerizing and the scents intoxicating.

We sometimes stigmatize a fascination with nature; we call one another hippies and tree huggers with tones of degradation. Yet when did we become so disillusioned, so disjointed from the natural world around us? Why have we hidden away in a concrete jungle, where the greenery of our world struggles to emerge? There must be a reason why the view from atop a hill fill us with grandeur and fascination, why the scent and sound of an ocean fills us with calm and delight.

Nature itself can be so broad, but so too can its effects.


– Emily Shapiro

moss art


The warm blue hues are the first to capture the eye. Soft cotton clouds drift slowly through the sky, moving gently with the breeze. The sun is only just emerging, casting a shadow upon the valley below, the dark green of nourished trees slightly peeking out from the darkness. The yellow haze is still hidden, buried beneath the the soft azure of the long night. The cold air pushes leisurely through the landscape, biting the skin and invigorating the senses. And the smell, what a beautiful smell. Rich in earthiness, damp with the odour of fresh rain. The birds, similarly awoken just moments ago, begin to sing in lively chirps, enveloping the scene with a beautiful song. Layered like a soundtrack, the boom of ocean waves beat like a bass drum, cushioned by the tender sway of leaves. The world is awake again, bringing the bliss of a new day.

– Emily Shapiro

moss wall art news

The Japanese Newspaper That’s Reinventing Recycling

A Japanese newspaper Mainichi Shinbun is one of the most popular daily newspapers in circulation in Japan. News of its green newspaper have begun to surface overseas, with many praising its efforts to preserve the natural world. According to a 2015 Mainichi Shinbun article, the green newspaper is part of a campaign called “Mottainai” which loosely translates to “less waste.” The goal is that after reading the green newspaper, you use it to help the environment instead of throwing it away in the trash.

The green newspaper is made from recycled paper which contains seeds of various plants and flowers. The ink is made from vegetables, which acts as a fertilizer. The newspaper recommends tearing up the green newspaper into small pieces before planting, then voila! A beautiful garden will emerge from the recycled material.

The green newspaper is not the first time that Mainichi Shinbun has made efforts to protect the natural spaces of Japan. They argue that metropolitan cities have lost their greenery and housing developments have displaced farmlands. While the Japanese government has made efforts to combat this, the newspaper says it is just not enough. Thus, Mainichi Shinbun paired up with the government to begin increasing green areas, such as forests and parks.

In 2006, they began a project in which they succeeded in planting about 330,000 trees. With another project, the newspaper and government were able to plant more trees by the coastline in an effort to alleviate the strength of any incoming tsunami waves or ocean flooding.

The “Mottainai” campaign is different, however, in that Mainichi Shinbun wanted the Japanese people to feel that they, too, can assist in creating more greenery in Japan. The green newspaper is produced for a special event in Tokyo on “Green Day,” where anybody can attend and collect one of these green newspapers. The green newspaper has articles that teach readers about environmental problems and solutions. After reading the newspaper, it is ready to be planted. The seeds inside the newspaper are a mixture of different plants and flowers, so that the reader will be surprised from what emerges.

While the newspaper is only printed for one day a year, the impact it can have is enormous. The campaign has been successful and popular, and can hopefully grow beyond Japan in order to regrow nature in man’s domain.

To learn more about this green newspaper, read this Lifegate article or watch this informative video!


Miyajima Trip: The Beauty of Nature in Japan

Miyajima Trip: The Beauty of Nature in Japan PT 1

My name is Emily and I’m an intern at WabiMoss. My mother is Japanese, and she now lives in Japan with my father and two sisters. Just recently, I returned to California after visiting them for two weeks. We had a wonderful time, both at home and during our travels. Our first stop: Miyajima. Miyajima is a small island off the southern coast of Japan’s main island, near Hiroshima. For two days and one night, we went to visit the small island.

Miyajima Ferry

We departed from Hiroshima to set sail for Miyajima by way of a ferry. From a window in the ferry, I watched the ocean water waves churn as we made our way to the island. The sun glistened up above and left a bright yellow sheen on the water, highlighting the tips of each wave.

We docked at the Miyajima port, and made our way to our ryoukan, or traditional Japanese inn. The summer weather in Japan is very hot and humid. That day, temperatures were near 100 degrees Fahrenheit with humidity at almost 95%. We trekked through the town, our luggage in tow, until we reached the small inn to check in and drop off our bags.

Miyajima Nature Moss Cement Walk

Afterwards, we began our journey through Miyajima. Almost immediately after walking out of the inn, I noticed a rock and cement wall that guarded the roads at one of the turns. The wall shielded the road from the hill behind it, which was covered in thick trees and greenery. What stood out, though, was the thick roots of the trees which had penetrated the cement wall and sprouted out, peaking out of its cement curtains, as if to catch a glimpse of the world beyond the wall. Besides the tree roots, adorning the cement wall was vibrant green moss. The humidity and heat made the moss open, which lent it its vibrant green hue in the summer sunshine. In this cement wall was the perfect image of nature and man’s coexistence – while the wall blocked any debris from spilling out into the streets, nature also decorated the scene with its power.

Miyajima Deer Island

Miyajima is also famous for the deer that co-inhabit the island. Multitudes of deer, young and old, walk the streets with the many people. While people are not supposed to touch or feed the deer, the deer seem comfortable with approaching people (and sometimes shoving their heads in people’s handbags in search of food!). As I sat on a bench, in search of a beautiful view of the water and reprieve from the heat, I was lucky enough to have one of these little deer sit next to me and eat some pine needles.

Miyajima Ootorii Tori Gate water view

Perhaps one of the most breath-taking and famous locations is Itsukushima Shrine, a beautiful Shinto shrine on the edge of the water – quite literally. The shrine is built so that when high tide comes in, the shrine sits above the water. The red coloring of the wood in juxtaposition to the cool blue of the water is mesmerizing. Beyond the shrine, further towards the deep waters is a large torii gate, called the Ootorii. The gate appears to float when high tide comes in, as the water wells and hides the gate’s lower portions. Even when low tide exposes the bottom of the gate, the sheer stature and look of the gate is spellbinding.

Itsukushima Shrine is only one of the many beautiful things to see in Miyajima. The streets are lined in beautiful shops showcasing fascinating art, quirky trinkets, and snapshots of Miyajima’s natural beauty. Bushes of moss are like carpets upon walls, sandy streets lead to the edge of the water, and red pagodas emanate from the luscious, green landscape. If only one blog post was enough to describe this fascinating place! The beauty of Miyajima island is almost unbelievable, but certainly worth the trip.

Miyajima Ootorii Tori Gate


(all photographs by Emily Shapiro)


Forest Healing, the Japanese Art of Shinrin Yoku

Forest Healing: When times become stressful or exhausting, perhaps a walk through the forest is the solution. This is the idea behind Shinrin Yoku (森林浴), a Japanese term which loosely translates to forest healing. This forest healing is used to achieve relaxation and boost healthiness. Many of those who practice forest therapy do so to relieve themselves of the stress, both physical and emotional, of our modern world.

     It does not imply a quick stroll through a forest, but rather a slow and purposeful walk. To achieve the desired results, one must take time in each step, absorbing the details in the surrounding nature. Listen to the sounds, the rustling of leaves as a gentle wind passes through. Feel the earth, whether it be the firmness of the dirt beneath you or the light tickle of the grass on your ankle. Smell the forest, and let the scent of the terrain envelop you.

Forest Healing

     It is argued that the air within the forest is pure as the trees create clean air within the space, and the green and orange colors of the environment have a positive effect on the human body. The smells of the forest are said to be healing to our bodies. Studies have been done to test the results of purposeful forest bathing, and this research seems to support the claims of forest healing. One study found that forest bathing, in comparison with walking through a city setting, lowered cortisol levels, blood pressure and pulse rate. Another study found that after three days of forest healing, participants had a significant increase in white blood cells, or natural killer cells.

     The art of forest healing is well known and respected in Japan, but it has now reached the states too. In Los Angeles, the Shinrin Yoku company has opened, who will take you on guided tours through forests to achieve results. Based in San Francisco is The Association of Nature and Forest Therapy, which certifies individuals who are looking to become one of these forest healing guides. Their website also provides a starter kit for anyone looking into trying forest healing.

     So give it a try and talk a slow stroll through the forest and see how you feel!

Moss Girls: The Japanese Phenomenon of Moss Viewing

Moss Girls of Japan: A cloudy sky hovers above, while the light patter of rain descends upon the rain coat of a young woman. She holds a book between one of her arms as she’s crouched, with a camera closely focused in front of her. She hesitates for only a moment, then clicks and the picture has been taken. She wipes the moisture off of the lens, then withdraws a magnifying glass. She inspects fervently, devouring every small detail. After some time, she stands up and maintains her focus in front of her. She takes another look at the wet, dewy carpet of moss glistening back at her, excited to print the fresh picture and add it to her moss book. She inhales deeply, then continues walking in search of her next discovery.

     She is one of many Japanese moss girls. Moss girls are part of a growing trend in Japan of moss viewing, where moss viewers inspect the art of nature in the form of moss. These viewers bring magnifying glasses to get an up-close look at the small plants and to see the very core of its presence. They snap pictures to put into their moss photo books, in which photos recount the treasures of previous exploits. While many people, of different ages and genders, participate in moss viewing, a surge of young women enjoying this hobby has become a trend. These women have varying reasons for their enjoyment of moss viewing, but many agree that studying moss is relaxing, beautiful, and a reminder of endurance.

     In Japan, finding moss is quite simple. It may be carpeting the forest floor, or slowly climbing the trunk of a tree in front yards. In fact, Japan is home to over 2,000 species of moss. Japan’s varying geographies invite a multitude of species to grow, creating a diverse landscape for the moss viewers.

     The Japanese maintain the value of coexisting with nature, and moss viewing allows its participants to step foot into the natural world and gaze upon its presence. Even if not physically able to go outdoors, Japanese art forms such as the bonsai tree, moss gardens, or flower arrangements bring the art form of nature indoors. While many parts of Japan have become sleek and urbanized, the Japanese still recognize the power and beauty of nature and some allow this curiosity to flourish while chasing the next thicket of moss.


To read more about moss girls in Japan, or how to do a moss viewing yourself, read Hisako Fujii’s article here!


Moss Girls Japan

Photo by Kyodo News

How our ancestors used moss

A few fun facts on the uses of moss by indigenous peoples, as well as survival uses of moss.

One use that will probably remain forever among field personnel is that of toilet “paper” (Open-Air). Sphagnum is particularly suitable, both for its absorptive properties and its antibiotic properties.

Since it has antibiotic properties, and is absorbent, it can be used to cover a wound and stop bleeding.

Alaskan Native Peoples have used blades of grass, rubbed together until soft, mixed with peat moss and squirrels’ nests to line a cradle as a diaper (Kari 1985).  Michigan’s Chippewa Indians used Sphagnum for this purpose to keep babies clean and warm (Crum 1973).

Moss has been used by indigenous people in daily housekeeping:  to stuff pillows, mattresses and toys for children.

Since moss holds water, you can put a layer of moss on your shelter and it will absorb the water and keep you dry.  It can also act as an insulator of both heat and cold, to be used in a variety of ways. Again, lining your shelter with moss can help provide adequate insulation, or you could line your clothes with moss if you were ever in a dire situation and were in need of insulation.

Moss is also absorbent so it can be used to gather water.  You can wring out the moss to get some water; if you have moss on your shelter, you can use it to absorb any rainfall, which you can then gather and drink.

If you can find dead moss or have the time to pick some and let it dry, it’s extremely flammable and is great for starting a fire. Since it’s lightweight, you may even want to add some of it to your homemade fire starters or just carry some raw.

So, moss is amazing stuff!! Not only is it beautiful, it can be useful as well.

See this article on the survival uses of moss