What is biophilic design?

What is biophilic design?

17 October, 2022

Biophilic design aims to evoke natural elements (plants, water, light, etc.) and reconnect human beings with nature.

The term “biophilia” was invented in the 1980s by the American entomologist Edward O. Wilson, known for his work in evolution and sociobiology. 

Wilson defined this word, literally and following its etymological root, as “the love of life” or “the love of what is alive”, alluding to the human need to be in contact with nature in order to achieve true well-being. 

Over the years, and beyond its new age reminiscences, biophilia has gradually been applied in different fields, including architecture and design: it is estimated that humans spend 90% of our time indoors in buildings (housing, offices, leisure centers, etc.) and we are gradually losing that link with the natural world which is so necessary for us.

Biophilic design aims to break this trend, incorporating elements of nature in urban interiors, adding plants (such as walls or ceilings), taking care of the views to gardens and green areas, using biodegradable materials (wood, cork, natural stone, etc.), installing systems to improve air circulation or simply betting on decorative elements that remind us of nature.

Characteristics of biophilic design  

Although it is a complex idea, what biophilic design does is, fundamentally, to observe nature in order to emulate its patterns in the buildings we inhabit

The three characteristics of buildings with biophilic design are: 

Introduction of “natural” elements, visual and sensory

Biophilic design uses materials that we would find in nature or that directly allude to nature, such as wood cladding or carpeting that mimics stone or grass surfaces

But that’s not all: colors, sounds, air quality, acoustic comfort, thermal sensation, humidity and even light variations through windows or skylights should remind us of natural environments. 

Biophilic design also introduces water into interior spaces, an element that is at the same time vital, harmonious, relaxing and full of energy.

Reproduction of biomorphic forms 

Biophilic design replicates patterns that remind us of or make reference to figures, textures or designs that we see in nature, both in materials and colors, as well as in shapes. 

Fluid, soft and rounded geometries are used, and corners and abrupt cuts are eliminated in order to integrate the different elements gradually into the space. 

Creation of natural spaces 

In biophilic design, order is essential to reproduce natural processes and ecosystems. The ultimate goal is the creation of open spaces, in which people feel comfortable living, working or resting.

Rooms that follow biophilic design principles are perfect for the development of creativity: observing natural phenomena or enjoying natural light and silence is beneficial for concentration and reflection.

This is one of the main reasons why many companies are already committed to creating spaces adapted to these criteria.

Examples of biophilic design:

  • Second Home Coworking in Lisbon, which brings together more than 2,000 plant species in a greenhouse where you can also work.
  • Gardens by the bay and large waterfall at Singapore’s airport.
  • NX Condominium in the Williamsburg neighborhood (Brooklyn, New York), with a lobby that doubles as a living room and work area, and has lush vegetation including a large ficus.
  • Seattle’s “The Emerald” tower, with more than 40 stories and 262 homes, whose glass facades allow residents to be surrounded by mountains and water.
  • Obsidian” community in Las Vegas, a development of 33 houses with biophilic aesthetics and among whose streets we find terraces landscaped with plants, rest areas, stone paths, water or pools overlooking the desert.
Biophic interior design

Advantages of biophilic design

Biophilic design is not a trend: it is a global movement, a philosophy based on sustainability and wellbeing, whose principles are attracting more and more people who are aware of the benefits that being surrounded by nature has on their health and mood. 

Regarding the advantages of this architectural and decorative style, we highlight: 

  1. By introducing the right elements, we can transform traditional offices into more pleasant places, which can significantly improve production and employee performance (up to 8%) and reduce absenteeism, sick leave and costs due to staff turnover. 

→ You may be interested in: The best types of office flooring.

  1. In shopping centers, biophilic design increases customers’ willingness to buy or pay more by up to 12% thanks to the positive experience generated by a natural space. In addition, open spaces are considered safer. 
  1. This type of design favors a circular economy and increases our commitment to the environment. In fact, one of the main foundations of biophilic design is to achieve maximum sustainability, by betting on production and consumption cycles that guarantee sustainable growth over time (thanks to the optimization of resources, the reduction in the consumption of raw materials and the use of waste). 

This idea of circular economy arises from imitating nature itself, where everything has value and everything is used, and where waste becomes a new resource. 

Biophilic design is much more than just putting a plant in the office: it is about creating spaces that help people perform their tasks and feel better, and in which colors, shapes and materials are very important.
In L’Antic Colonial’s catalog you will find floor and wall coverings made with natural materials, and ideal to fit in with this philosophy. Check it out on our website.


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