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Biophilia: Harmonizing Nature with Interior Design


Written by Taliyah Ali

In our current world, for the most part, there seems to be a large disconnection between our biggest founder, nature. We tend to build over it, destroy it, and create spaces with no real inclusion of it. Our transportation systems, the way we live, and the amount of pollution we create seem to disrupt and further disconnect us from nature as well. We must find ways to incorporate nature into our lives. Two ways that could greatly connect us more is the implementation of plants into architectural design and into our own households.

With the rise of urbanization and the higher shifts of people moving from rural areas to the cities, there seems to be more recognizable consequences. People are more stressed, more resources and energy are burned and people suffer more from pollution related health issues. According to the UN a projected 68% percent of the world population will live in urban areas by 2050. If this is going to be the case, it is important to understand the concept of biophilia. Biophilia is defined as the innate human instinct to connect with nature and other living things. I believe that most of us possess this quality in many ways through our ancestral counterparts, how most of us behave in nature and through the psychological effects associated with it. It has been proven numerous times that people tend to be much happier when spending more time with nature, so how can biophilic design be included into our urban spaces?

To start, there are three types of biophilic design to understand. Nature in the space, Natural analogues, and nature of the space. Nature in the space is the direct presence of nature in spaces in the forms of light, scents, animals, plants and many other natural elements . Large amounts of natural light, views of nature from inside, access to gardens and rooftop terraces, fish tanks and office pets and service dogs are more examples of this. Many of these effects have been shown to greatly improve productivity and relieve stress in environments. According to a study done in 1999 by the Heschong Mahone group they found that classrooms that exposed kids to more natural sunlight performed better on tests, and had increased cognitive functions. These forms of design are more direct than something like natural analogues.

Natural analogues are man made representations of natural elements. This includes organic shapes of walls and furniture, natural colors, biomorphic designs and patterns, the usage of stone and wood, artworks and artificial plants. In environments such as a workplace these elements of design have been shown to improve productivity and engagement with the space. By indirectly incorporating colors and patterns that resemble nature, people can feel more relaxed and comfortable.

Nature of the space has to do with a human's psychological response to certain architectural views. Naturally we are drawn to the unknown or to environments we feel we may be able to thrive or explore in. With this type of design, you will see open floor plans, extremely wide spaces, mazes, lakes, views of oceans, safeguarded cliffs and so many other forms of excitement and curiosity. With the inclusion of nature of the space, we are able to experience natural and man made creations in a safe way.

These are all amazing and insightful ways to incorporate biophilia into outside spaces but how can we include them into our own homes? Well to put it simply, plants. Plants are an amazing segway into incorporating biophilia into homes. They can help reduce carbon emissions, and can help improve our overall comfort through its natural effort to clear out air pollutants. It also just looks great in homes! Some other ways would be to, as mentioned before, play around with natural light in homes. Something as simple as letting in some natural sunlight into a room can greatly improve one's productivity and overall mood. Sound is another good example. Opening up a window or putting on some naturalistic soundscapes from youtube can allow you to listen to natural sounds such as birds chirping, the trees, ocean breezes and so much more. A sort of familiarity and comfort could be associated with the inclusions of natural sounds in a home. Another way of simply including biophilia into spaces would be the usage of texture, patterns and hues. Nature consists of many different textures and patterns and adding artwork, blankets or pillows reminiscent of that is an indirect way of natural inclusion. Certain colors and hues can give that same effect. A soothing blue or a sandy tan pillow are some examples of this.

The inclusion of biophilic design has been proven numerous times to be effective in conserving energy, improving mental clarity and just general improvements on wellness. Something as simple as opening a window, and adding hues of comforting naturalistic colors are all great ways to provide some biophilia to a home. Nature is all around us and will always be there to provide inspiration and comfort to our lives indoors and outdoors.

If you have any questions about biophilic design or our biophlia installations, you can contact us below.


Taliyah is an artist and writer. She is currently a student GSU and has presented her research to her Communications class.


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