biophilic living

What is Biophilia? What It Means & Why It Matters

casa biofilico diseno design biophilia biofilia

As the world becomes increasingly urbanized, lifestyle convenience and stimuli typically increase while access to nature and green spaces decrease.

Biophilia and biophilic design are in this sense a thoroughly modern response to that disconnect from nature although, as you’ll discover, it is one informed by our meta history, having evolved as a species in relative harmony with nature over hundreds of thousands of years.

What is Biophilia?

We define biophilia as the human love of or need for a close connection with nature and other forms of life. When applied to modern lifestyles, ‘biophilic living’ resembles less a primal, hunter-gatherer lifestyle and is rather about the respectful integration of nature into our home, offices, gyms, diet, beauty products, transport choices and more.

Why Does Biophilia Matter?

Wherever health, wellness, and community are at stake, biophilia has a genuine contribution to make, partly to improve the lives of the people involved but also as a way to protect the planet.

Biophilia & The Triple Bottom Line

Biophilia is a Triple Bottom Line concept in this sense, as it accounts not just for People and Planet but also for Profit, which explains why it has been adopted around the world by some of the most valuable companies in existence.

Amazon, Google, and Apple have all tapped into the power of biophilic design recently for their office interiors, so what lies behind the shift to such botanical work spaces?

Clean Living

Plants convert CO2 back to oxygen as we know but recent studies by institutes such as NASA show that plants also purify the indoor air for us.

Within interiors, this means filtering out harmful chemicals, such as formaldehyde, benzyne, ammonia—to name a few— from off-gassing furniture, paint, building materials, and pollutants that track in from the outside world.

NB: We recommend going big on such plants in each room, around 6-8 per regular user if possible and then supplement that with an air purifier from Dyson, that’s how we do things anyway.


We are bombarded daily with endless stimulants in bustling urban areas—especially in the era of endless technology. Interiors and exteriors that utilize biophilic design create spaces where such stimuli can be set aside for a dose of Vitamin Nature that will recharge our internal batteries and, as a result, improve concentration, productivity and creativity.

biofilico recharge room green biophilia nature

Our Biofilico green recharge rooms and office interiors are designed specifically for this purpose in fact. When we integrate movement and activity into the mix as well, we end up with a Biofit gym’s ‘special sauce’ - double the wellness benefits basically!

Biophilia & Tribal Community

Not only does biophilia hold the key to connecting with nature in unnatural settings, it also creates opportunities for greater sense of connection between groups of individuals and nature, for example through the creation of communal gardens, green spaces in schools, or shared workspaces like Second Home in Lisbon.

The fundamental insight here is again informed by ancestral health principles that clearly show humans to be tribal animals, originally operating in groups of 150-250 people.

In conclusion, biophilic living is an effective way to counteract against some of the negative effects of urban living and by embracing this concept, we can improve quality of life, health and well-being whilst improving consciousness of our connection to the planet around us.

Related reads from Biofit & Biofilico:

5 Best Examples of Biophilic Design

10 Ways to Add Biophilic Design to Your Home, Office, or Gym

Air Purifying Plants in Biophilic Interiors

10 ways to add biophilic design to your home, office, or gym (part 2)

biofilico biophilic casa interni interiors biophilia

If you want your interior to truly look and feel its best, incorporating biophilic design elements is a tried-and-true method to add not just soul but wellness benefits to an interior.

By implementing a few of these key biophilic design strategies when designing your home, office, or gym you can create a space that prioritizes personal well-being—and looks aesthetically pleasing while doing so - while also respecting the planet. Here’s how:

Harness Nature’s Aromas

We discussed appealing to multiple senses in 10 Ways to Add Biophilic Design to Your Home, Office, or Gym (Part 1), and this should undoubtedly extend to scent too.

Incorporating certain aromas into a space is a simple way to extend the user experience and influence not just the tone of the room visually but also how its users feel whilst in it.

Forget synthetic fragrances though, we keep it clean with organic essential oils such as pine, cedar or lavender, preferably diffused into the air for 30-60 mins straight. This is especially beneficial first thing in the morning and last thing at night, while taking a relaxing bath or while concentrating on a writing or work task.

Purify the Indoor Air

Urban living comes with its benefits, sure but one of the inarguable downfalls is the reduced air quality, especially in certain cities such as Barcelona for example where the municipality struggles to keep pace.

Keep lungs happy and healthy by deploying an air purifier—preferably one with a HEPA filter. Dyson Air Cool is our model of choice for our bedroom in Casa Biofilico for example.

This helps restore air to its natural state by removing pollutants that off gas from furniture or, more likely, drift in from the streets outside. Incorporating a few plants can also assist with this goal although you’ll need to go big on quantities and choose the right species, and even then we still recommend using an air purifier. Take no prisoners on this front!

Go Organic on your Materials

Using organic material can lessen the presence of harmful chemicals that are regularly found in building materials and furniture—think benzene, formaldehyde, and trichloroethylene. Yes, this is a thing.

While plants and purifiers are a great method to filter the pollutants that get in, going organic is a preventative measure that will help ensure their presence is minimal from the get-go. Rather like taking your shoes off before entering a home so as not to bring in the dirt from outside. Joined-up thinking is the way to win this battle.

biophilic biofilico biophilia design diseno

A Natural Neutral Palette

The color scheme is arguably one of the biggest influencers of the mood that an interior elicits. While bright tones can add energy, neutrals will help any commercial or residential room feel grounded in nature.

Try opting for colors that you often see in the wilderness, like browns, beiges, and greens. Still looking for a pop of bright color? Try a dash of sunshine yellow a bright sky blue.

Welcome ‘Wabi-Sabi’

Nature is never about perfection, so why should your interior design be? Harness the intrigue and natural beauty that imperfection can bring and integrate pieces into your design that have variations in the finish or maybe even a couple of chips or cracks.

Wabi-Sabi a Japanese concept common among vintage and handmade products, so look for furniture, crockery sets, and pottery with such ‘imperfections’.

These actionable, biophilic design strategies can help propel any home, office, or gym design in the right direction. Whether you implement a few or all 10, both your interior and health will thank you!

Read 5 more strategies in Biophilic Design Guide (Part1)

Natural nootropics: Green tea

biofit health fitness green tea nutrition supplement matt aspiotis morley

biophilic living: natural green tea

Green tea is one of the most widely consumed drinks in the world and has been a staple in East Asian cultures for millennia, forming a key part in a biophilic lifestyle in tune with nature.

This leaf’s benefits on cognitive function, improved mood and, to a lesser extent, disease prevention are also becoming increasingly well known in the West, placing it firmly in the camp of contemporary natural nootropics as well as that of traditional medicine. And herein lies the magic…

In fact, we’d go as far as to say it’s a genuine powerhouse of a nootropic that should be part of any mental performance supplementation program. 

So, can a cup of green tea a day keep the doctor away? Or should you opt for a high potency supplement instead? Read on to learn more.

first things first, what exactly is green tea?

Green, black and oolong tea all come from a plant called Camellia sinensis; the differences between them only kick in after processing.

To make green tea, producers steam the fresh leaves right after harvesting. Steaming stops fermentation that would break down many of the plant’s health-promoting constituents and also preserves the leaves’ green colour.  

To make oolong and black tea on the other hand, growers allow the green tea to ferment, producing a different colour and flavour profile, as well as altered biological activity.[1]

matt aspiotis morley biofit health fitness gyms green tea supplement nootropics

how does green tea impact our health?

Most of the health benefits of green tea come from polyphenolic catechins, the most abundant being epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG); these are antioxidant compounds that help protect our cells from damage. 

Scientists are researching the effects of green tea catechins on a number of conditions such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and neurodegenerative diseases.[2]

Other natural nootropics in green tea are caffeine and the amino acid theanine, a uniquely helpful pairing that works in synergy to enhance clarity and focus. [3]

In lay terms words, if you consume more than 2-3 cups of caffeine during the day, a dose of theanine would be a sensible way to counterbalance any associated jitters. We’ll return to the joys of theanine shortly though!

natural green tea for neuroprotection

Researchers believe ROS and oxidative stress play a significant role in Parkinson's and Alzheimer's diseases, contributing to neuronal damage in other words. Antioxidant catechins may help to protect against these diseases, a theory supported by preliminary animal studies of EGCG.[4]

Research studies also show that a polyphenol rich diet can have a positive impact on preventing memory impairment associated with age-related disease such as Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. Our daily regime includes blueberries and a green tea supplement for their combined polyphenol power, for this very reason. [4]

green tea nootropic biofit supplements natural health matt aspiotis morley

green tea’s theanine for treating mild forms of stress

A hot cup of green tea can act as mental prompt to slow down for a few minutes to collect one’s thoughts but there’s more to it than that; theanine in green tea has proven anti-stress effects in humans and animals.[5]

Researchers gave 200mg of theanine to participants in one study resulting in reported feelings of relaxation and calm; additionally, the theanine helps counteract feelings of tension from tea’s caffeine content.[6]  

green tea’s benefits on blood pressure, cholesterol and the heart

Experts have uncovered a link between the lower rate of heart disease in Japanese populations and their green tea consumption.[7] In particular, green tea may lower blood pressure and cholesterol, helping to prevent heart attacks and strokes.[1] While these are all positive signs however, we still think tea’s big bazooka lies in its nootropic powers for improved cognitive function and memory.

first tentative forays into green tea and cancer research

Research is still in its early stages when it comes to green tea and cancer prevention, however, epidemiological studies and animal models have yielded some interesting results.  

As well as potentially protecting from skin, breast, prostate and lung cancer [8][9], EGCG and green tea extracts may be anti-mutagenic [10] and prevent the growth of the blood vessels that nourish tumours.[11]

That said, much of the evidence is conflicting, and high-quality studies in humans are a long way off.  Hopefully, future trials will help to reveal any true benefits in this area.

how much of this nootropic should you consume?

A good green tea extra supplement will offer you 200mg+ of EGCG from 450mg of green tea extract, equivalent to 9000mg of dried leaf. that is a lot of tea drinking!

Unless you have the habit of consuming green tea throughout the day, as is common amongst many Oriental cultures for example, we’d recommend the supplement route for maximum health benefits, at the very least on days when you do not consume enough of tea.

If you can form the habit of sipping away at a bottle during a work day at the office say, and that becomes a habit, then the supplement would be a practical alternative on weekends. Either way, with this range of benefits on offer, it’s a worthy addition to any nootropic regime.





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Wellness benefits of contrast bathing

contrast bathing biofit biofilico wellness benefits matt aspiotis morley

Warm and cold therapy is an established protocol amongst both natural medicine cultures and high-level athletic performance but in recent years the biohacking community have adopted similar techniques for their own mental and physical health benefits. 

The ‘contrast bathing’ version of such hydrotherapy deliberately alternates intense warm and cold experiences in the hope of reducing post-exercise recovery time and muscle soreness on one level while improving cognitive function and sleep quality on the other.  

This type of concept also fits neatly into Biofit’s belief in respectfully harnessing nature for physical and mental wellness; so how does it all work and how can you try it for yourself?

what is contrast bathing?

Also known as thermal cycling, in essence contrast bathing consists of at least one hot and one cold bath, shower or other experiential full-body immersion. Advanced, inner-city variations on the theme might involve an infrared sauna, ice bath or cryotherapy for example.

If you have access to a sauna in your gym or a hot bath home, a nearby lake, river or beach perhaps, or simply live somewhere with regular snowfall, you should be half way there already! In fact, I would argue there are additional psychological benefits to be had from integrating exposure to nature into the mix as well, more on that later though…

contrast bathing infrared sauna matt aspiotis morley biofit biofilico

what is the science behind contrast bathing?

Scientists believe that successive exposure to heat and cold increases blood flow to our muscles which reduces swelling and inflammation, helping to clear lactate from the system, an obvious marker for muscle fatigue.[3] 

Additionally, temperature stresses trigger extra nerve activity, crowding out pain signals[4] which in turn has a positive effect on the immune system.[5] 

Research also suggests that daily cold stress, such as a cold shower in the morning say, can lead to an increase in immune cells and protects against infection.[6] Again, our own anecdotal evidence here suggests some light exercise in the morning such as stretching or a brisk walk, followed by a cold shower is a safe bet for supercharging your morning!

what protocol should you follow?

There is no one definitive protocol for contrast bathing; coaches, sports physicians and enthusiasts all have their favourite techniques but, as a general rule, you’re looking to hit between 10-15°C for the ‘cold’ and 38-40°C for the ‘hot’ part.  

In lay terms, you should be looking for a moderate discomfort level before stepping out, really feeling the heat or cold making an impact on your body temperature. Much of this is mental of course but without some degree of stress being imposed on the body, the effects will be inherently limited.

how long should a contrast bathing session last? 

Recommended times tend to be longer for the heat sessions, 10 to 15 minutes say, and shorter for the cold, perhaps 1 to 3 minutes. A total duration of 15 to 20 minutes per cycle is therefore a good guideline.[1] One cycle is good, two to three cycles are better, if time allows. Just don’t go overboard! Listen to your body and don’t try to be a hero if are new to this. Over time, you will grow accustomed to it and you can start to play with your limits but go slow.

is thermal cycling helpful for post-exercise recovery?

High-intensity and long-distance exercise are especially tough on the body, so for those who train hard or go long on a regular basis the aches, pains and some degree of general fatigue becomes unavoidable, unless you happen to be under-18! 

For the greatest benefit in muscle recovery, scientific research suggests that contrast bathing should take place as soon as possible after working out.[2] Imagine pro footballers jumping from ice bath to hot shower or sauna after a game.

I would assume that most people are not pro athletes however and therefore may  not even have time for their full training session, let alone training and recovery treatments in quick succession. Luckily, anecdotal evidence indicates that it is also beneficial to drop into an ‘active recovery’ day.

biofit’s approach to rest & recovery

After nearly 25 years of training under my belt, and a plan to continue for at least 25 more (!), I’ve come to appreciate the value in deliberately scheduling a day of R&R in my training schedule every four weeks or so.

This typically involves some combination of a nature hike, deep-tissue massage, mobility session, self-myofascial release (SMFR), a short afternoon siesta (ideally in the sun for added Vitamin D) and a contrast bathing experience. 

My diet is nicely dialed in nowadays but on these R&R days I will be extra diligent about doubling down on the healthy fats, lean protein and cruciferous vegetables… as well as copious amounts of water to flush out the system and no caffeine to encourage any extra naps that might be on the cards!

It’s about doing everything possible to give the body a chance to grow back stronger and tougher than before. Intermittent fasting can wait for another day!

how much difference does it make?

Current evidence suggests that contrast bathing is better for recovery than simply resting (passive recovery) after exercise and is on par with other interventions like compression, active recovery  (see previous para) and stretching.[3] My approach at age 37 is to throw everything at the wall; and take no prisoners!

contrast bathing wellness benefits matt aspiotis morley biofit biofilico

why incorporate nature as well?

Scientific research studies that specifically isolate this particular variable within the thermal cycling experience are hard to track down but we do know that acute temperature stresses release beta-endorphin, a natural opioid which lifts the mood, without any side effects.[6] 

Exposure to nature has been shown time and again to have a positive impact on mood, reducing stress levels and creating feelings of vitality (see our own research studies from 2017 & 2018 here); outdoor contrast bathing of any variety simply layers the same benefits on top of those related to the physical exposure to hot and cold experiences.

Does it double the impact? Probably not but we might say it extends the range of benefits on offer from that one combined experience. 

can thermal cycling improve cognitive function?

Biohackers are onto a good thing here. Thermal cycling releases cortisol, noradrenaline and adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) into the bloodstream. These and other stress hormones increase alertness, focus and energy rather like an all-natural alternative to espresso [6],[5]

A word of warning though, personal experience suggests there is a thin line between coming out the other side with a clear head and hitting an entirely pleasant but all-consuming energy crash directly afterwards, so experiment on yourself to see what works for you.

cold tolerance and outdoor activities 

Finally, this may be stating the obvious but hot showers are a modern invention, not an evolutionary necessity - quite the opposite, otherwise we wouldn’t be where we are today at the top of the food chain. 

Introducing a small dose of nature-inspired ‘adversity' into a complete training routine is therefore both concordant with our evolutionary history and comes with a plethora of proven health benefits.[6] More generally though, cold-tolerance helps you when active outdoors, whether it be  surfing or skiing. So, what are you waiting for?









Nootropics - natural performance enhancers - part 1

Nootropics - natural performance enhancers - gingko biloba

what are natural nootropics, a.k.a. ‘smart drugs’?

In short, cognition enhancers originally intended to help improve cognitive function in aging individuals and/or those with age-related neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. 

Also, crucially, used by bio-hackers, entrepreneurs and other early-adopters looking for natural ways to boost physical and mental performance in everyday life. And this is the part we are focused on in this article…

you’re still healthy though, so are nootropics for you? 

To place this trend in perspective, it is the ability of nootropics to improve the prognosis (expected development of a disease) in patients that led to the hypothesis that they could also improve levels of attention/cognition in those who do not have a cognitive disease., or have not yet been diagnosed with one.

how do nootropics affect productivity?

Anyone who is out to change the culture in some way by making a contribution, be it small or large, to the world around them has got to be interested in productivity, especially those working in highly strategic, mentally engaging professions, be it start-ups, tech, legal, medicine or finance.

Making an impact on the world is not going to happen all by itself, especially as a solo entrepreneur. Instead it will almost invariably require blood, sweat, tears, moments of existential self-doubt and a break-up or two. There will likely be caffeine too, lots of caffeine…

the smart drug solution

Enter smart drugs, stage left. Nootropics claim to offer a cognitive edge; even a 5% boost in productivity and concentration can make a big difference over the course of a work day, especially when the number of work hours are limited by another job, relationships, fitness commitments and so on.

a list of common nootropics

Here is a list of nootropics that we will investigate in a series of forthcoming articles to address their affects as part of a functional health and mental performance program based on natural ingredients only:

  1. L-theanine 

  2. Bacopa Monnieri

  3. Ashwagandha

  4. Choline

  5. Gingko Biloba

  6. Lion’s Mane Mushroom

  7. Rhodiola Rosea

In the meantime, if you are looking for a one-stop shop to get into them, rather than trying to build your own bespoke ‘stack’ of smart supplements, check out Earthly Biotics for an innovative, all-in-one solution we have had our eye on for a few months now.

organic design: connecting nature & interior design in biophilia

organic design biophilia architecture interiors

eco-friendly design

Sustainable and eco-friendly buildings are a concept that has been introduced into mainstream design over the past 20 years but the historical movement of its predecessor, organic design, started long before.

With organic architecture and organic design stretching back as far as the 30’s there is a rich history of architects and designers deploying this philosophy in a poignant way, long before talk of biophilia and biophilic design. Indeed the creations birthed from this branch of design went on to heavily influence the trajectory of the design sector as a whole.

frank lloyd wright: the biophilia pioneer

Frank Lloyd Wright (1867–1959) was an American architect, interior designer, writer, and educator that not only coined the term organic architecture but also believed in and abided by the concept. After a full career that involved designing over 1,000 structures—532 of which were completed—he published "The New Architecture: Principles”, an essay that laid out nine principles of architecture reflecting his philosophy of organic architecture and design. 

what is organic architecture & organic design?

Organic architecture is best described as harmonizing the man-made world with nature. Or more abstractly put, "form follows function”, a statement coined by Wright’s mentor and fellow architect, Louis Sullivan. 

A structure built using the principles of organic architecture can be said to display the following characteristics:

  • Closely resembles nature, blending in and utilizing its natural surroundings

  • Creates things from the inside out, mirroring how much of nature functions

  • Uses materials and shapes found in the natural world 

The derivative term, organic design, extends the philosophy of organic architecture to smaller projects like furniture, accessories, and art. 

biophilic building case study: wright’s fallingwater (1935)

A home that truly embodies the theory and spirit of organic design is Fallingwater. Built by Frank Lloyd Wright above the running water in Pennsylvania, this family home makes great use of naturally sourced material, such as cut stone and beige concrete.

biophilic design case study: alvar aalto viipuri library (1933)

organic design biophilia architecture alvar aalto library

Use of natural materials, skylights, and irregular forms can all be seen in the construction of the Viipuri Library, all stylistically typical of the architect Alvar Aalto. It is this organic design approach used in Aalto’s architecture, furniture, textiles, glassware, sculptures and paintings that are attributed to his success as a highly recognized, modern architect and designer in the 1930’s. Notice too how this wave-like form repeats itself in the glorious Aalto-designed vase that proudly sits on our showroom table.

organic design biophilia vase alvar aalto biofilico

Specifically designed for the Organic Design in Home Furnishings competition organized by the Museum of Modern Art, the organic chair was revolutionary. Up until this point, comfortable chairs were constructed with expensive springs and heavy bolsters of upholstery padding. The lightweight, molded plywood seat was a game changer.

organic design eames chair biofilico

After the competition the developers, Charles Eames and Eero Saarinen, discovered that the technology to mass-produce molded plywood chairs didn’t exist, so not many were produced. However, this did pave the way for a chair that Charles would go on to create with his wife, Ray Eames. An iconic chair known as the Eames Lounge Chair. 

Email for more information on how Biofilico can help you create a biophilic, organic interior space with natural health benefits.

aromatherapy as part of a biophilic natural lifestyle

Aromatherapy as part of a biophilic natural lifestyle

Aromatherapy is a common medicinal technique that deploys aromatic plant oils, including essential oils, either inhaled or applied to the skin through massage, to positively influence our mood, mindset, pain sensitivity and sleep. 

Sadly, it has become all too easy to label something, be it a diffuser, soap or shower gel, as ‘relaxing’, ‘energizing’ or ‘refreshing’; such adjectives are so loosely thrown around nowadays that they have become near vacuous terms. 

biophilic bio-hacking

The inquisitive bio-hacker intent on living a more Biophilic lifestyle that brings them closer to nature  can and should demand more from the products he or she purchases, and aromatherapy still has a role to play in that process.

Ancient Chinese, Indian, Roman and Greek populations all appear to have made ready use of essential oils, both in religious or ritual practices and more practical applications such as cosmetics and perfumes. 

More recently, scientific studies have provided considerable evidence to back up aromatherapy’s claims to aid with reducing anxiety, improving sleep and enhancing cognitive performance; here we will address each in turn.

essential oils and anxiety reduction

642x361_What_is_Sandalwood.jpgAromatherapy as part of a biophilic natural lifestyle

One study focused on women undergoing an image-guided breast biopsy, exploring the use of aromatherapy scents compared to a placebo in a randomized, controlled study.

Anxiety was self-reported before and after the biopsy by 87 women using the Spielberger State Anxiety Inventory Scale. A statistically significant reduction in anxiety was shown through the use of lavender-sandalwood aromatherapy compared with the placebo group. 

aromatherapy for improved sleep

A meta-analysis of 12 studies using a random-effects model revealed that the use of aromatherapy was effective in improving sleep quality in 95% of cases with inhalation proving more effective as an application than massage therapy.

The study concluded that readily available aromatherapy treatments do indeed appear to be effective and promote sleep. More research may need to be done to develop specific guidelines for how to use aromatherapy to achieve the desired effect.

a natural solution to enhanced mental performance 

a natural solution to enhanced mental performance 

A sample of 42 administrative university workers performed a computer task in a university classroom while assigned into an aromatherapy group and a control group. Oil diffusers were is use during the session, one with petitgrain essential oil (orange tree leaf extract) and one with almost oil as the control.

Before and after the intervention, participants completed anxiety and mood state questionnaires (the Stait-Trait Anxiety Inventory and the Profile of Mood States). Heart-rate variability (HRV) was also measured before, during (20-25 min), and after the intervention to analyze autonomic nervous system regulation. 

The aromatherapy group performed the task 2.28 min faster than the control group suggesting that inhaling petitgrain essential oil specifically and aromatherapy more generally can help to improve cognitive performance in the workplace by reducing stress levels and increasing attentiveness and alertness. 

if you would like to know how I could advise on creating a wellness space, recharge room or simply a more biophilic way of living, simply reach out via my contact page.