Designing for Well-being: Exploring the impact of design on mental and physical health, including biophilic design and wellness spaces

Interior design has a, sometimes sub-conscious, profound impact on our mental and physical well-being. As our lives become increasingly intertwined with the spaces we inhabit, the design of our surroundings can either nurture or neglect our health. Today, we have the distinct pleasure of interviewing Circaphiles ambassador Angela Harris of Trio Design, whose expertise has redefined the relationship between design and well-being.

Together with Angela, we delve beyond stylish interiors, as she has harnessed her design prowess to explore the influence spaces exert on our mental and physical health. Read on to uncover the intricate connections between design and well-being, including the concept of biophilic design, a term that has been gaining momentum in the world of interior design.


Angela Harris is an American interior designer, product designer, CEO, mother, and industry board member. At her renowned interior architecture firm, Angela has spent over 23 years working directly with the nation’s most prominent builders, developers, and product manufacturers.

Her robust experience in market-driven design coupled with a Masters in Sustainable Design has led her to embark on a new journey inspired by mindful design powered by science and technology. Angela is currently earning her PhD degree in Visual Arts, pursuing research in the field of Aesthetics, Design, and the Built Environment through IDSVA.

Angela and her talented team collaborate on all aspects of master planned communities, model homes, clubhouses, sales centers, commercial, hospitality, multifamily apartment communities, and product development.


How do you balance aesthetics and functionality with the emphasis on promoting mental and physical health in your designs?

It’s been said that the future of science is in the home, and I couldn’t agree more. As a design professional, I have the opportunity to not only provide my clients with beautiful spaces but enhance their well-being on a daily basis. Luckily, on a biological level, we are hard-wired to be more attracted to spaces that mimic the natural world.


How do you incorporate the principles of biophilic design into your interior architecture projects to enhance the well-being of occupants?

Being human means taking in your surroundings 24/7, and sometimes these environments are healing, and other times they’re not. Studies have shown that interior design has the ability to ease stress levels and promote well-being through a variety of biophilic design tactics such as exposure to natural light, incorporating patterns and textures that replicate those found in nature, and the use of organic materials like wood, stone, etc.


Are there any challenges you’ve encountered when implementing biophilic design, and how do you overcome them?

Human beings use their subconscious mind more than their conscious mind. Knowing this, we are constantly judging our environment without even realizing it. As a designer, it’s important to keep this in mind so I can ensure my client is happy in their space. This can be a challenge, since there are always so many details to take into consideration – from the number of windows allowing sunlight in a room, to the texture of the carpet below your feet.

With your ongoing research in Aesthetics, Design, and the Built Environment, what exciting discoveries or trends could revolutionize the way we approach interior design for well-being?

Promoting a sense of connection with nature is simply essential for psychological well-being. Biophilic design is proven to promote better sleep, enhanced creativity, and even boost immune systems. Another way to look at it is that 90% of our time is spent indoors, so there must be a critical connection between the built environment, design, art, and well-being. At least that is the way I see it at a very fundamental level.


With your experience in various project types, from master-planned communities to commercial spaces, could you share how the concept of well-being and biophilic design varies in each context?

The concept of biophilic design can (and should) be applied to any project, whether it be a residential community or a commercial space. Human beings everywhere could benefit from this scientific research, making it a valuable tool for creating healthy and sustainable living spaces. For example, incorporating loads of natural light and fresh greenery into an office space will likely have a positive effect on the mood and cognitive function of its employees.


As a mother, how has your personal experience influenced your understanding of well-being in design, especially when it comes to family-oriented spaces?

Through the study of neuroaesthetics and biophilic design, I’ve grown to truly understand the importance of creating a healing space for kids and adults alike – one that provides them with peace of mind on a subconscious level. As a child, I was also able to experience the power of art by living with an aunt who had Schizophrenia. It was clear to me that the art on the hospital walls and the opportunities we had to create art together had a direct influence on her health and wellbeing.