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  • Writer's pictureRiya Wadhwani

Feeling Friluftsliv at Home

Updated: Nov 2, 2022

The Norwegian way of connecting and contentment with life

Stuck Inside? The interview with Iana Castro guides us on a way to help relieve the stress and feel friluftsliv without leaving your home.

Iana Castro, Heather Honea, Erlinde Cornelis (all working as Associate Professors at San Diego State University), and Anuja Majmundar (Principal Scientist, American Cancer Society) clearly establish the importance of biophilic (i.e., nature-related) elements in consumer environments in their recent IJRM paper (Volume 39, Issue 2, June 2022).

Experiencing Friluftsliv Inside

“Wooden desk, giraffe lamp, dogs, nature-quoting colors, and textures are the biophilic design elements that help me experience Friluftsliv inside." - Iana Castro

Friluftsliv is 5000-year-old Norwegian secret to happiness and contentment in life. Friluftsliv is the mental state people achieve when they are in an open environment, connecting with nature and, as a result, experiencing positive psychological responses. The authors were interested to know whether quoting nature and its elements in consumer settings can replicate the effects of being out in nature and generate a friluftsliv response.

They show that consumer environments rich in biophilic design elements such as green curtains, wooden desks, vases filled with rocks, and colors or textures that relate to nature, evoke a friluftsliv response (positive connection to a place and blended affective state). Using a marketing perspective, the authors were also interested in measuring the impact on behavioral outcomes. They found positive impact of biophilic designs on consumer responses to retailers’ offerings and on the willingness to spend time in the store, thereby driving consumer traffic and increasing consumer engagement.

Timing is important when it comes to research

In our interview, Iana described her passion to working on this topic and how the idea which evolved gradually over 10 years developed into a paper. During her Ph.D. in 2008, she was offered to work on understanding the impact of decorative styles on consumer experiences in retail settings. However, due to other commitments, she set the idea aside. She teamed up with Anuja (then a graduate student assistant), Heather, and Erlinde and the team started to think about the exact nature of setting and decorative styles. The pandemic, and people’s inability to go out freely made the concept of friluftsliv more salient.

Brainstorming sessions over Zoom meetings involved deliberating over conceptualization of friluftsliv and how it can be experienced inside, the role of biophilic elements (quoting nature through colors, textures, and other elements involving greenery, water, and wood) in generating friluftsliv responses, and its impact on crucial consumer behavioral responses. Through series of three experimental studies, the authors showed that the presence of biophilic design elements in consumer environments offers psychological benefits to consumers similar to those experienced outside.

Ensuring Consumer Wellbeing through BrightSide Produce

“If greens are important on your wall, so they are on your plate.” Dr. Iana Castro (Co-founder of BrightSide Produce)

"Retail and food decision-making has always been my passion," reveals Iana. Moreover, the intensity of this passion is reflected through her service for undeserved communities in the form of “BrightSide Produce.” BrightSide Produce is a non-profit organization that ensures food availability, accessibility, and affordability in communities where food insecurity is rampant. Along with this, she also highlighted the importance of delving deeper into the issue of food crisis. As of now, BrightSide Produce and team of experts from diverse fields such as nutrition, geography, supply chain, city planning, and public healthcare, helping with adequate data and expertise to dig deeper into the issue of food insecurity and rampant food crisis.

Iana further opens the future scope to understanding the possible extension of study on biophilic elements including smell, sound, or touch, and how it can trigger friluftsliv response.

Intrigued about friluftsliv and biophilia right? Click here for the full paper!


Meet Iana Castro

Associate Professor of Marketing at San Diego State University

Co-Founder and Director, BrightSide Produce

A ritual/practice/exercise that you can’t miss or start your day without?

Ensure spending time outside and experience friluftsliv in its true sense.

If you would not be a marketing researcher, what would you be?

In an alternate universe, I would have worked with a non-profit organization on the cause I am passionate about-food crisis.

If you could retain only one concept in marketing, what would it be?

Understanding consumer needs would always come first.

What is the number one question you hope to answer during your career (something that drives you)?

Healthy food, which is culturally appropriate, accessible, affordable, and available to everyone. It is a basic human right, and we are failing. I wish to find solution for this and through BrightSide produce, we are coming closer to finding answer to this question.


This article was written by

Riya Wadhwani

Ph.D. candidate at the Indian Institute of Management, Udaipur (Rajasthan, India)

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