Humans have carried the connection to nature within them for thousands of years, having lived amongst and from nature for most of mankind’s history. As a result, we are all still subconsciously inspired by it and drawn to it. This innate connection also makes itself felt in terms of our stress levels. It has been proven that looking at plants and nature-like products makes you feel calm and therefore relaxed. In other words, Biophilic Design awakens our primal instinct and brings a touch of nature back into our urbanised lives. It stands for a concept of furnishing or design that focuses on creating an environment that resembles nature. This can take many forms from organic looking architectural structures to the incorporation of natural elements in urban settings, work, educational and exterior spaces as well as home living environments.
Courtesy of MeroWings Netherlands (NL) & Green Leaf nature-based Furniture
Biophilic Design's History and Evolution
E.O. Wilson coined the term in his book Biophilia, published in 1984. Wilson, a prominent biologist and Harvard University Research Professor Emeritus, articulated a basic human inclination to be drawn to nature and to imitate its processes and structures in daily life. E. O. Wilson defines biophilia as "the innate tendency [in human beings] to focus on life and lifelike process."
Simply being in the presence of trees has a major effect on our well-being, regardless of the setting. This is perfectly demonstrated by Shinrin yoku, or Forest Bathing, a Japanese practice that benefits both physical and emotional health. It has been shown to lower heart rate and blood pressure, enhance the immune system, and speed up recovery from illness, as well as reduce stress hormone production, promote feelings of happiness and free up creativity.
The Cave, Aix-en-Provence, France
Frank Lloyd Wright’s approach to Biophilic Design
“I go to nature every day for inspiration in the day's work,” the legendary designer Frank Lloyd Wright once said. Furthermore “I build on the concepts that nature has employed in its domain.” That is precisely the Biophilic Design mindset.
One of Frank Lloyd Wright’s House Projects
MeroWings contribution to Biophilic Design
Biophilic refers to an innate affiliation to nature. As such, Biophilic Design involves integrating elements like wood, plants, and water to create a natural ambience.
Moodboard by MeroWings
This is where MeroWings’ introduction of its original nature inspired textile-based replicas of real tree log poufs and tables the form of log cushions and tree trunk beanbags opened up new possibilities to experience Biophilic Design in a variety of settings.
Plants and Natural Light
Plants are particularly of great importance. They are the physical embodiment of Nature’s vitality and can be easily integrated in any human environment. To convey the feeling of Biophilic Design, real plants or pictures and patterns of them can be used. Biophilic Design should also give you a feeling of warmth and security. For this reason, natural light such as that of the sun plays an important role. Indeed, access to daylight is vital for existential reasons. These include health, social reasons and ultimately, to feel connected to one’s natural environment. In this sense, biophilic architecture focuses both on the inclusion of views to greenery, as well as incorporation of “day-lighting” within different settings.
Perfect example of the incorporation of natural “day-lighting” and plants
Aspects that MeroWings’ Products fulfil that relate to Biophilic Design
MeroWings’ nature inspired photorealistic prints and biophilic products clearly represent the biomorphic shapes found in natural environments. The term biomorphic means: life-form (bio=life and morph= form). Actually, the initial spark of inspiration for the first collections of their kind world-wide, came from Meena Valail-Dieter’s daily walks in the Forest near our offices.
Closeup of one of MeroWings’ photo-realistic tree prints
Creating a sense of Sanctuary with Biophilic Design
If you consider Maslow's hierarchy of needs, if you don't feel safe, you won't be able to reach greater degrees of happiness. Biophilia can help us to feel protected, supported, and in the moment. As such, it plays a major role in the whole area of “Mindfulness”, the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.
Reduced cortisol levels, a marker of our body's stress reaction, enhanced kindness, enhanced learning engagement, and better social connections are just a few of the many benefits of Biophilic Design for engaging our senses and boosting emotional wellbeing.
Decorative elements of stone or wood in natural forms provide resting points for the eyes. It has been proven that even images or replicas of shapes found in nature have the same psychological benefits for humans. A good example of this can been seen in one of MeroWings’ many projects with architects and interior designers in creating a sanctuary area for a high-end wellness club in Russia. Here, the interior designer’s initial plan was to use real tree trunks, with all the problems associated with such an endeavour, to create the feeling of being in a forest. However, after discovering the quality of our photo realistic prints, they realised that it would be much easier and better to use our fabrics and adorn light pillar constructs with MeroWings’ forest prints. The results were stunning and due to the inner foam layer around the pillar, had the added benefit of being safer for the smaller visitors to the area, namely the club member’s children.
Urban Garden’s project with MeroWings: Moscow Wellness Club Sanctuary
Biophilia, a colossal topic with many angles
There are of course so many more things that could be written on this immense theme. In conclusion, Kellert and Calabrese (2015) summed it up very well, identifying fundamental conditions for the effective practice of Biophilic Design. These include that Biophilic Design requires repeated and sustained engagement with nature. Furthermore, Biophilic Design focuses on human adaptations to the natural world that over evolutionary time have advanced people’s health, fitness, and wellbeing. It also encourages an emotional attachment to settings and places and promotes positive interactions between people and nature that encourage an expanded sense of relationship and responsibility for the human and natural communities.