EARTHLY DELIGHTS -Photograph of crystalline tartaric acid found in wine.



I often meet interior designers as I travel across the country exhibiting my artwork, and I have had the opportunity of collaborating with many. I met Stacey Lapuk last year and have become familiar with her design philosophy and award-winning work. Her specialty, biophilic design, incorporates natural elements throughout the design process. Colors, patterns and textures, materials, and lighting are all thoughtfully and beautifully integrated into her clients' homes and work environments.

Numerous studies have shown that when designs incorporate biophilic elements, there a measurable benefit to our mental and physical health occurs, including lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol and increases in dopamine and serotonin.

I talked at length with Stacey to learn more about this up-and-coming design trend and you can read more about her insights in this month's Art and Science column.

Since we spend the vast majority of our lives indoors these days, a closer look at what makes a space healthier is certainly worth the time and effort. Dr. Claudia Miller, the head of medicine at the University of Texas, sums it up by stating, "Architects and designers have a greater ability to improve public health than medical professionals."


- Lee

May 2023


“The goal of life is to make your heartbeat match the beat of the universe, to match your nature with Nature.” -Joseph Campbell, author



CALLAS -Photograph of crystalline acetaminophen


SYMPHONY -Crystalline citric acid -Installation Kingston, WA


“If you will stay close to nature, to its simplicity, to the small things hardly noticeable, those things can unexpectedly become great and immeasurable.” -Rainer Maria Rilke, author


Lee: The concept of biophilic design is unknown to most people, so how would you explain what you do as a designer to a new client?

Stacey: Biophilia translates into a love of nature, and I tell my clients that biophilic design acts like a cloak infusing all the design elements of the home, whether it be through the use of natural materials, lighting, color, or patterns. It's much more than putting a plant in a room. Think of it as living in a three-dimensional painting, where your beautiful space is also biologically aligned with good health. Beautiful design, biologically aligned.

L: It would seem to me that biophilic design is then one of the oldest design principles. Are designers and clients becoming more aware of the benefits?

S: Yes, they are. Remember, our nature connection is embedded in our DNA. We have over 200,000 years of evolution within the natural environment and only 20,000 years of living in structures. When I give talks, I often ask people to close their eyes, take a deep breath and imagine they are in their happy place. And most everyone raises their hand when I ask if it is someplace outside. It makes sense that incorporating natural design elements into our homes will be beneficial, and this has been proven true by numerous scientific studies.

L: How do you determine what biophilic design elements are appropriate for a particular client?

S: I ask them a lot of questions. I actually have a 15-page questionnaire. In it, I'm asking them how they want to feel in a space and what are their functional requirements. Then I look at the architecture of the space. Because people often have difficulty describing a style that they like, I give them homework to collect images of spaces that resonate with them. We can then discuss what in that space they find appealing.

Everything in a design should have a reason for being there. Perhaps why we like a particular element may be difficult to describe, but where we place that in the space should have a reason. That reason has to do with proportion, scale, and the relationship to the whole.

L: As an artist, I am convinced that including art as well as nature in our lives is extremely beneficial. What role does the inclusion of artwork play in your designs?

S: All types of artwork can be included, encompassing a client's interests and tastes. The art need not be as predictable as a relaxing landscape painting, although that may make a great addition, or even anything representational, for that matter. Art of all types can positively stimulate both conscious and unconscious brain functions.

Art supports us in multiple ways: First, it simply brings joy into our lives. It can also reduce stress. Research shows that simply viewing a favorite piece of art can increase the blood flow to the brain and increase the release of the "happy" hormones dopamine, serotonin, and oxytocin while lowering cortisol levels.

Viewing art also improves cognitive abilities, and as we make sense of what we are experiencing, we grow new neural pathways. Art also engages us, holding our attention and allowing us to pause, much like meditation. As we try to understand why it makes us feel a certain way we are reconnecting to our own life experiences. It gently encourages us to use our imagination. It should make us wonder, be curious, and ask questions. All this stimulates thought, encouraging creativity and expanding our worldview.

When you wake up each morning and experience a rich, multi- sensory home, its energy sets the stage for a joy-filled day.

Learn more about Biophilic Design and Stacey Lapuk on her website


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