Home Design Style of the Month: Bohemian Meets Biophilic

Ever since Justina Blakeney’s The New Bohemians: Cool and Collected Homes was published last fall, the home décor style that originated during 19th-century France (cue the soundtrack from Puccini’s La Bohème, or Les Mis if you prefer) has been on the rise. “Born of economic necessity and a rejection of bourgeois values, it was an unconventional style with the heart of an outsider—artistic, multicultural, and a little threadbare,” wrote Laurie Junker in a previous post about Bohemian style.

Blakeney, an Instagram influencer and founder of home décor site Jungalow, isn’t the only designer who has put a distinctive imprint on the style. Kristin Rackner, founder of Studio Vice, a Minneapolis design cooperative encompassing interior design, architecture, and brand/identity development, has her own thoughts on bringing Bohemian style into the 21st century.

“Bohemian design may have been the predecessor for our modern day biophilic design practices,” she says, “by embracing direct and indirect connections with nature, utilizing natural material, shape, and form, and by incorporating biomorphic patterns in furniture, textiles, and art.”Rackner believes that, “The desire to bring the outside into our homes is primordial. Humans have an innate need for nature. It is a subconscious connection many of our naturalist and bohemian literary icons have spoken of often, including Emerson, Thoreau, Kerouac, and Ginsberg. They all had insights as to what’s shaped this connection between human life and society.”

Biologist Edward O. Wilson is the thinker, however, who popularized the term with his book Biophilia. “Wilson once said that, ‘Nature holds the key to our aesthetic, intellectual, cognitive, and even spiritual satisfaction.’ So, the more direct connections people have with nature, the better,” Rackner says.

Nineteenth-century Bohemian style, she adds, “embraced unconventional beauty, a refusal to conform, and a desire to represent one’s genuine life; this push back from the norm inadvertently created a timeless design style.” Rackner says she’s “a rule breaker by nature, so I love working in the bohemian style because there are no hard rules about the aesthetic. The space is created for the individual’s personal enjoyment, not to impress or follow any particular style.”

As we all continue to stay home to stay safe as COVID-19 cases continue to rise, inserting a little Bohemian style into the home can help with stress. “Screen time, Zoom meetings, and artificial light drain us,” Rackner says. “They add to everyday stress that can trickle over to our family members and our current lack of work-life separation.”

Where to start? Introduce more plants, living walls, a small water feature, and images of nature into indoor spaces. Add décor and accessories that mimic nature by using natural materials and shapes. Open the windows and draw the curtains, to bring in fresh air and natural light. Better yet, create a workspace outdoors or outfit an outdoor living space that family can enjoy.

Mental health plays a major role on our physical health and can deplete our immune system,” Rackner adds. “Creating healthy indoor spaces by joining Bohemian style and biophilic design can result in authentic, supportive spaces that ease the hardship, create less anxiety, and improve productivity and mood.”

Photos by Spacecrafting, courtesy Studio Vice

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