Biophilic Design: What Is It and Why Is It Trending?

November 16, 2022

Biophilic design seeks to evoke natural feelings of connectedness with nature. It is currently on the rise, and for good reasons. Meet some of its several defining characteristics.

Biophilic design is an approach to interior and exterior design that endeavors to better connect people with their natural environment. Biophilia refers to humanity’s innate affiliation with nature, and biophilic design is an extension of that philosophy. Biophilic design uses a number of different design elements to accomplish its goal of facilitating a link between people and nature. Lighting, design, vegetation, natural and sustainable materials, and views of nature can all be used to achieve a biophilic design.

Biophilic design seeks to evoke natural feelings of connectedness with nature in a couple of ways. First, by surrounding ourselves with natural elements, we can innately feel more connected to our environment. Second, and just as importantly, by using natural and sustainable resources, we lessen our environmental impact and, ideally, gain a greater appreciation for our natural habitat. This goal aligns closely with Black Label’s own mission of using the most responsible and sustainable methods for sourcing all of our lumber.

Advantages of Biophilic Design: Why It’s Trending

By using natural and sustainable resources, we lessen our environmental impact.

Biophilic design is currently on the rise, and for good reasons, too. Many modern designs have led to greater feelings of isolation from nature. This is evident in cities, offices, and even our homes. Too many people spend the majority of their time in locations that make the natural environment seem alien. But for the overwhelming majority of human existence, we have lived in alignment with our natural surroundings. No matter how advanced our society becomes, we will always have biological needs and impulses. Biophilic design seeks to create a built environment that is more in tune with our biology.

There is strong evidence suggesting that biophilic design has wide-ranging benefits for our physical, mental, and emotional health. Biophilic designs reduce stress and increase creativity, which is great in both workplace and home environments. Exposure to natural lighting is also good for our circadian rhythm. This often leads to healthier sleep patterns. Additionally, plants act as natural air purifiers. A biophilic space that uses heavy plant decor often has much cleaner air than other built environments, leading to improved health.

In addition to other advantages, biophilic design is also trending because it lends itself to plenty of creativity. A biophilic space can take on many looks to suit a variety of personal and aesthetic preferences.

Biophilic architecture also makes heavy use of natural and sustainable resources. By creating biophilic spaces, we are not only improving our own immediate environment. We are also helping to preserve the planet’s ecosystem in small, but significant ways, by putting an emphasis on sustainability. As people all over the globe look for ways to be environmentally conscious, biophilic design represents an excellent option in more ways than one.

What Differentiates Biophilic Design From Other Types of Design?

The definition of “biophilic design” is not so simple as “any design which incorporates an element of nature.” Rather, biophilic design is defined by a more comprehensive emphasis on our natural adaptations. Another way to think of it would be that biophilic design seeks to construct a natural environment in a built space. 

Elements of nature are integrated as fully as possible in biophilic design. What this means is that not all design features which involve “nature” are biophilic. A single isolated plant – or even a few plants – indoors are beneficial, but does not make for a biophilic space. Likewise, a lone picture or sculpture of a natural landscape or an animal does not create a biophilic environment. These design elements are isolated reminders of the natural environment, but not a simulation of it.

Similarly, designs which seek to create a replica of a natural environment that is not native to humans are not biophilic. For instance, a simulated deep sea or space environment does not qualify as biophilic design. The purpose of biophilic design is to better connect people with their natural environment. 

There are several defining characteristics of biophilic design to be aware of.

Environmental Features

Biophilic design is defined by a more comprehensive emphasis on natural adaptations.

Biophilic design incorporates familiar elements of the natural world into the constructed space. This includes colors, natural light, water, plants, and animals. 

As mentioned previously, biophilic design does not merely scatter these features throughout a design for a small effect. Rather, the intention is to create a naturalistic environment by incorporating these features throughout the design to create a deeper sense of connection with the natural elements. 

Natural and sustainable resources heighten both our sense of connection to our environment, and our appreciation for it. For instance, sustainably sourced hardwood is a very common feature in biophilic architecture. Natural hardwoods can be applied in a number of different ways in homes and public settings. From flooring to siding or even in the ceiling. Environmental features do not simply need to refer to natural light and foliage: using hardwood as a natural resource is a great way to achieve a biophilic effect. At Black Label, that concept is at the heart of everything we do. Our lumber, as a natural resource, comes from the earth. That is why we protect the forests we harvest from, and only sell sustainably sourced lumber.

Natural Shapes

Even the grain and texture of a natural hardwood like Tigerwood can enhance the atmosphere of a biophilic space.

Many modern environments subtly isolate us from nature by incorporating shapes that do not occur regularly in nature. 90-degree angles and perfectly straight lines occur naturally in some cases, but are extremely rare. Biophilic design, however, does seek to incorporate more natural shapes and forms in its design. Plant, animal, and shell forms are often used to achieve a biophilic effect. Even the grain and texture of a natural hardwood like Tigerwood can be used to enhance the atmosphere of a biophilic space. Any shape or texture which elicits a feeling of being connected to the natural environment can work in a biophilic space.

Natural Patterns

Similar to forms, natural patterns are a hallmark of biophilic design. This refers not just to interior decor, but also to the way we interact with our surroundings. Biophilic design seeks to reduce stress and relieve tension by helping to simulate the rhythms and processes of nature.

Light

Light plays a huge role in our day-to-day well-being. Overexposure to artificial light can severely disrupt our sleeping habits and cause fatigue and stress. More natural light exposure, however, helps to regulate our circadian rhythm as well as our moods throughout the day. Biophilic design uses light (both natural sunlight and artificial lighting) to create a setting more attuned to our biology.

Building Biophilic Architecture with Sustainable Resources

Biophilic architecture can take on an infinite amount of shapes and styles. Just as Earth’s natural environments are incredibly varied, so too are biophilic spaces. The principles of biophilic design allow for virtually unlimited creativity in how we incorporate elements of nature into our spaces. Biophilic architecture can range from a simulated forest to more minimalist designs making use of natural light and foliage.

There are several constants when it comes to biophilic design, of course. Among them are the incorporation of natural forms and elements. But the use of sustainable resources is equally as important to biophilic design. Biophilic design seeks to better connect us to our environments both physically and emotionally. This is done in part out of an appreciation for our natural world and its relationship to us. As such, all resources used for biophilic architecture should be sustainable and environmentally friendly. Many natural hardwoods and thermowoods are also incredibly durable, meaning they will last longer, thereby requiring fewer resources.
Black Label is proud to be a company that puts sustainability first in everything that we do. All Black Label lumber is carefully sourced from well-managed locations, with a focus on regeneration and responsible harvesting practices. That means we harvest only a few trees at a time from a large area, which gives the forest time to fully regenerate. Lumber is a treasured natural resource deserving of our protection, and at Black Label, we treat it as such.

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