In conversation with interior designer Oliver Heath

Smiling man with a beard and house plants behind him.

Oliver is Founder of Oliver Heath Design Ltd, an architectural and interior design practice
focussed on delivering health & wellbeing in the built environment through evidence-based
human centred design. Oliver’s work stimulates the adoption of happier, healthier places to live
and work through his projects as designer, writer, and TV presenter.

Since 1998 he has presented on numerous television channels for shows such as BBC, ITV,
The Discovery Channel and Channel 4. He frequently acts as a media spokesperson for the
UK’s Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC), WRAP and the Energy Saving Trust.

Oliver is the author of 4 books, most recently Design A Healthy Home (2021, Dorling Kindersly). His previous book Urban Eco Chic (Quadrille), sold over 30,000 copies in 6 languages, as well
as writing regularly for the Guardian, Grand Designs magazine, and House Beautiful.

Oliver has also designed a new online course where anyone can learn how to implement Biophilic elements into the home. Check it out here.

You can catch up with the conversation on IGTV here.

Here are our top 5 takeaways

  1. Biophilia means a love of nature. It explains humans’ innate attraction to being in and around nature and natural processes. We know that nature makes us feel good. It helps us relax, reduces stress and improves a sense of connection to the place with powerful memories of all the lush, multi-sensory environments and experiences. We treasure those moments and like to try and find ways of bringing them back into our own spaces.
  2. Biophilic design helps us bring elements of nature into our built environment to reduce stress, help us recuperate and also connect us more deeply to the space and the people in it.
    What it includes:
    a. Direct references – plants, trees, natural light, fresh air, natural movements,
    b. Indirect references – natural materials, colours, textures, patterns and technology that mimics nature
    c. Human-Spatial response – how we create spaces that are exciting and stimulating to us; buildings that we want to be in.
  3. Something as simple as colour influences how we feel in our spaces. Blues make us feel calmer because of the association with cool, relaxing pools of water. Greens are more energising and stimulating. Yellows are sociable, happy colours. Incorporating those colours in different ways helps elicit different moods and responses from people.
  4. Studies suggest that people are between 6% and 15% productive in a space that incorporates plants because it helps them feel more relaxed and creative. They are likely to take less time off work. Hospital patients can recover up to 8.5% faster if they have views that look out at trees or natural areas. They feel less pain while recuperating in natural light, take 22% less medication.
  5. Often, interior design is seen as lavish, extravagant or over the top. It shouldn’t be this way – it needs to be an essential component of how we create a space that evokes happier moments and is healthier for us. Health and wellbeing should be fundamental to the design of such spaces. It should connect us to the wider natural world and environment, and help us live more sustainably.

What Oliver has to say

“I’d like people to take away with them the understanding that the spaces we surround ourselves with have an enormous impact on our physical and mental wellbeing. By more deeply connecting with nature using Biophilic design principles in these spaces we can improve our wellbeing by reducing stress aiding recuperation and creating more restorative spaces for both people and planet.”

Oliver Heath, Oliver Heath Design

Oliver’s Blue Patch picks for Biophilic Design

  • Natural Bed Company

    Solid, sustainable wooden beds, made in Sheffield using traditional furniture making techniques

  • Blue & Green

    Innovative, award winning range of products for wildlife and your garden.

  • Full Grown

    Using ancient techniques we gently shape growing trees into chairs, tables, lamps and more

  • Peter Lanyon Furniture

    We use locally grown sustainable hardwoods from people we know and trust.

  • Harriet’s Plants

    Harriet’s plants are grown in peat-free compost in her glasshouse in Lichfield, Staffordshire.

  • Factory Furniture

    We are exterior furniture designers and makers. Our ethos is ‘simplicity of form and honesty of material’.

Watch the replay of our conversation with Oliver Heath

To check out other episodes in the same the series, click here.