Beauty and Biophilia - the Intersection Between Nature and Design
In the year 2020, humans spend over 90% of their time indoors – and that number is on the rise. The introduction of new technologies and changing economic structures have caused the population to drift towards urban centers. Today, 55% of people live in cities, and the United Nations predicts that the number will grow to 68% by the year 2050. But as we barrel towards the future, armed with our iPhones and Amazon Alexas, our bodies are still attracted to the patterns, textures and elements found in the Great Outdoors.
And why is that?
The “biophilia hypothesis” believes that because humans have spent the vast majority of our existence outside, we have inherited a genetic desire to connect with nature. Researchers believe that this is why we are drawn to outdoor hobbies such as hiking in national parks, skiing on snowy peaks, or relaxing on the beach. Although our highrises and sprawling concrete jungles have created an illusion of distance between us and our world, we’re still emotionally attached to Mother Earth.
Biophilic Design Was Born
Our attraction to natural elements such as air, earth, water, minerals and flora and fauna has inspired designers all the way from the Hanging Gardens of Babylon to today. This includes building with natural materials – such as stone or plants – or recreating the look, feel and qualities of nature, known as biomimicry.
Aside from just being attractive to the eye, biophilic design also has some noticeable benefits to human health and wellness. Public Health Report studies show that bringing plants into the office can have major beneficial results on employee health and stress. The presence of greenery can increase productivity as well as overall happiness, related to a design principle known as aesthetic complexity.
Biophilic buildings have a 16% higher selling point than regular buildings, and architects are quickly taking notes. Montreal’s Tropiques Nord, Sydney’s One Central Park and Madrid’s Selgas Cano Office are all world-renowned examples of this type of architecture.
Cities that have incorporated biophilic elements into their urban design are reported to have lower crime rates, lower carbon emissions and higher rates of physical and mental health. As well as all these wonderful benefits, it is believed that being exposed to biophilic design causes people to have more respect for the natural world, and make more sustainable and earth-focused choices.
Bringing biophilic design into your work and living spaces is both beautiful and beneficial. Let’s take a look at some of the most innovative products out there that sit at the intersection between nature and the future.
Designed by Kenneth Cobonpue, this floppy floral chair makes the user feel like they’re hanging out in a tropical oasis. It comes in a variety of garden-inspired colours and is great as a stand-alone statement piece or to mix and match. Formed out of soft fabric, this chair has been strategically crafted for both style and comfort.
This awe-inspiring design by Zaha Hadid is almost indistinguishable from a floating pond. Intricately formed acrylic resin mimics the waves formed when pouring water. When sunlight hits the surface of the table, it refracts to make ripples on the floor. Hadid’s use of biophilic principles creates a piece of work that evokes serenity and calm wherever it is placed.
Imagine emerging from a summer swim in a lake – cool water dripping down your shoulders, sun drying your hair, soft moss between your toes. Nection wants to bring you to this moment every time you step out of the shower. Their living bath mat feeds off the excess water and humidity from your shower, while in turn drying off your toes. They are currently working to bring their product to market, but in the meantime, the internet offers many DIY guides for those who are feeling a little crafty.
Sitting inside Nina Bruun’s Nest Chair, one really feels like they rule the roost. The chair incorporates biomimicry, copying the shape of a bird’s nest. It is also made of natural materials, the bending birch strips suggesting both chaos and order. Bruun’s chair is the perfect place to perch with a good book or a cup of tea.
Dedalo’s Hydra luxury tub showcases curved marble, clear glass panelling, and whoever dares to take a dip. The gorgeous stone is specifically shaped to accommodate the human form, and the depth allows for the whole body to be submerged underwater. The design considers three natural elements: water, air and minerals. For an extra biophilic boost, this tub can even be installed outdoors.
- Bloom – Easy Armchair Swivel. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.kennethcobonpue.com/designs/collections/bloom/easy-armchair-swivel/
- Largo-Wight, E., Chen, W., Dodd, V., & Weiler, R. (2011). Healthy workplaces: The effects of nature contact at work on employee stress and health. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3072911/
- Lee, J. (2017, December 30). Inside the Luxuriant Residential Complex of Tropiques Nord in Montreal. Retrieved from http://www.towertrip.com/inside-the-luxuriant-residential-complex-of-tropiques-nord-in-montreal/
- Marble and Glass Bathtub for Luxury Bathrooms – Hydra. (2020, April 16). Retrieved from https://www.dedalostone.com/en/prodotto/marble-bathtub-for-luxury-bathrooms-spa-made-in-carrara/
- MOSS CARPET. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://nectiondesign.com/MOSS-CARPET
- Nest Chair by Nina Bruun. (2010, April 02). Retrieved from https://design-milk.com/nest-chair-by-nina-bruun/
- One Central Park. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.centralparksydney.com/live/sold-out/one-central-park
- Saieh, N. (2009, April 30). Selgascano Architecture Office by Iwan Baan / Selgascano. Retrieved from https://www.archdaily.com/21049/selgas-cano-architecture-office-by-iwan-baan
- Söderlund, J., & Newman, P. (2015, December 10). Biophilic architecture: A review of the rationale and outcomes. Retrieved from https://www.aimspress.com/fileOther/PDF/environmental/environsci-02-00950.pdf
- This DIY Moss Bath Mat Brings Self-Thriving Lush Greens Inside Your Home! (2017, August 26). Retrieved from https://cutediyprojects.com/diy/diy-moss-bath-mat/
- Understanding the Biophilia Hypothesis. (2018, October 26). Retrieved from https://www.terramai.com/blog/understanding-biophilia-hypothesis/
- Zaha Hadid Architects. (n.d.). Retrieved November 25, 2020, from https://www.zaha-hadid.com/architecture/liquid-glacial-table/