The design brief:

To take clients on a personal and creative journey by commissioning art that breathes life into a space and brings tangible beauty to fruition.

Design principles in action

Biophilic design:

  • Seeking to connect building occupants more closely to nature
  • Capturing and enhancing both nature and a sense of place

The project in focus

‘Nature is painting for us, day after day, pictures of infinite beauty’
John Ruskin

Art breathes life into a space, it allows for personal expression and encourages dialogue and emotion. The type, size, colour and mood of the art displayed in your home or office has a big impact on the overall feel of the space. And it may often form the starting point of the design process.

Charlotte loves collaborating with a client on a new piece of art. Not only do they get a piece of art tailored to them but they also get to be part of the exciting creative process, meeting the artist, experiencing the commission process and securing a piece that will be enjoyed for many years and perhaps even passed down through following generations.

Restrained colour palettes, an exploration of differing dimensions, and a sense of ethereal escapism all complement the holistic ethos of a Charlotte Findlater project. Natural landscapes and scenes are part of her biophilic design sensibilities and art is a central part of that.

A biophilic art journey with Joanna Farrow

Charlotte’s biophilic art journey with Joanna Farrow began with a wish to commission a piece of art that captured the experience of being immersed in a natural, tree-lined landscape. That piece would then become one of the central visual pillars of her professional branding.

She was drawn to Joanna’s work from the moment she saw it as her artwork is a way to visually connect with natural landscapes.

Looking into this artwork, you can see a path or track that brings a human element to the piece and invites you to explore deeper, reminding us of our humanity and our place in nature.

Charlotte says:

“This piece of art is featured on my website and on all my stationery including my business cards. I was delighted with Joanna’s work – and with our collaborative process. She not only took my brief but exceeded what I could have hoped for…A difficult thing to achieve!”

Joanna says:

‘This drawing was inspired by a wonderful area of Heathland that borders the Ashdown Forest where I walk regularly. I want the viewer to feel as though they’re in the midst of these beautiful surroundings. I’ve done this by cropping through the foreground trees and distancing others, so creating depth and perspective. The trees tilt slightly inwards, which again takes the observer into the landscape, as though they are walking within it. In all my landscape paintings and drawings I resist the urge to ‘tidy up’. Instead, by using loose charcoal marks and undefined brushstrokes, the unmanicured charm of our natural woodlands and forests can be embraced and revered’.

Using nature or scenes of nature to reduce anger, stress and fear

Well-chosen art has the power to transform a space, allowing the owner to communicate their unique personality. Designers seek pieces that transform a space into something that is not only functional and practical but also personal, beautiful and restorative.

Naturally-inspired pieces also help us to cope with pain. Humans are genetically programmed to find plants, water, trees and other natural elements absorbing. In this way we are distracted from discomfort.

This was demonstrated by Robert Ulrich in his landmark study, view through a window may influence recovery from surgery. It showed that patients who had a view of nature from their hospital beds healed on average a day quicker and needed less pain medication than those who had a view of a brick wall.

Indirect connection to nature through pictures, photographs and paintings can stimulate our senses and help to strengthen our connection with nature. Furthermore, that has the beneficial effect of reducing heart rates and stress levels.

Natural and figurative imagery reflects our place in nature, particularly that which depicts shapes and forms from the natural world. This is the crux of biophilia: a need, that is deeply encoded within our DNA, for a connection to the natural world, natural elements such as trees and sunlight, and natural materials such as wood, stone and leaves. Just as deeply encoded is our intrinsic response to representations of these elements.

Exposure to representations of nature can transfix and fascinate people in a healing way just as being in nature itself. The majority of our time is spent indoors, so artwork that mimics, inspires or reminds us of our connection to nature can be restorative. Art is therefore a necessary tool in biophilic design as it provides an antidote to our overwhelmingly indoor existences.

It makes absolute sense to incorporate art into building design and interior spaces, establishing explicit connections to the earth. And to make it a critical element in spaces built to nurture, heal, support and protect such as hospitals, schools, care homes and libraries.

Creating a unique sense of beauty through biophilic design

Art, and particularly those pieces that are abstract and modern, are frequently commissioned by designers for the impact they create in any environment.

Originality is important to Charlotte’s clients. Individualism means the artwork can often serve as the centrepiece, effortlessly tying all other elements of the design together and creating a characterful space.

Biophilic stimuli and figurative artwork connect us to the natural world, its rhythms and its cycles, conveying layers of meaning that defy words.

Charlotte believes that as we move forward and green building principles and practices become the norm, evidence-based healing principles will become a catalyst in the design of residential homes and public spaces including schools, offices, shopping centres and retail outlets, clinics and community centres.

Architects and designers creating new, modern buildings and renovating or re-fitting buildings will consider, incorporate and implement:

  • restorative elements
  • healing elements
  • the principles and patterns of biophilic design

Credit to

Artwork, Joanna Farrow