Biophilic Design: Why Nature?

The concept that nature communicates with us through it’s expressions would seem obvious to most, but it is not until recently that have we have fully begun to understand the function that nature plays in our lives.

Evolving Workspaces

Biophilic design connects people to nature in built environments. Biophilic design is based on the concept of “biophilia” which is the idea that humans are innately drawn or connected to nature. Through our biological evolution nature has guided human being’s morphology and intelligence. The concept that nature communicates with us through it’s expressions would seem obvious to most, but it is not until recently that have we have fully begun to understand the function that nature plays in our lives. Our body temperatures rise and fall with the daily cycle of the sun.

One feels relaxation from listening to nature while trying to enter a stage of rest. The mind and body’s response to nature is present in it’s reactions and this concept requires more study and respect. We believe that the question isn’t about our future relationship with nature, but how are we living with nature in the present. We often only experience nature on recreational terms (i.e.walking the dog in the park or swimming in a lake) and rightfully anticipate the weekend to enjoy these activities. For many, those trips into nature are a deep source of pleasure and play even when in solitude. The pleasure that nature provides is undeniable regardless of the activity or location though we all have our favorites.

When incorporating nature into our everyday lives through design, you can take a simple element like a plant and create a new atmosphere. Plants help us refocus our thoughts on the present moment. One of our favorite design challenges was finding a specific plant species for a softly lit basement application. For the first five weeks, we carefully observed the plant’s response to its environment. We landed on a tall Draceana species which was what we were hoping for. If carefully observed, you will find that this plant keeps it’s shine regardless of the environment. It is pest-resistant, persistent in growth, requires careful exact watering, and is a dream to work into aesthetic design. We have learned over the years that diving Mach 10 into an interiorscape may cause discourse. If you’re too focused on moving quickly with plant care, you’re missing out on the process and key elements of the plantscape.

Water is another common biophilic element that soothes and calms. Water is rarely used in office design because though it takes our cares away, it can make us very drowsy. We like seeing water used in hotel buildings, restaurants, and resorts. Water can also be used in the home environment as ponds, waterfalls, and fountains. It is a treat to see these elements pop-up in homes.

An original interior plantscape vision can evolve many times. We have rarely began and completed an original concept without edits because of changes in team dynamics, the economy, and the wellness of the building (i.e. drafts, changes in lighting). Interiorscaping is an evolving, but not exact field. It is making strides in perfecting its craft by truly focusing on what the customer wants (not the bottom dollar) and what the purpose/function of the project is. Everyday the field is evolving.

The application of nature in design is subtle yet has the potential to be direct once understood. The conceptual original thinkers of the idea that humans are connected with nature were highly intelligent, complexly intuitive, and magnetizing forces of philosophy, literature, and design. Think Emerson, Whitman, and Frank Lloyd Wright. Along with their intensity was an approachable and oddly familiar feel that explored our place with nature. Past design applications seem to fall flat on the shoulders of nature. Biophilic design lends meaning, multi-dimensional depth to projects. Little can be compared to it’s beauty and mystery and there may be much more to be explored. We are drawn to it and look forward to seeing what 2020 has in store for design.

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