What Even Is Biophilic Design And Why Are We Seeing It Everywhere?

Sourced from Business of Home

“Biophilic design” is an intimidating phrase—it sounds a bit like something you’d need a Ph.D. for. But the concept is actually fairly simple, and most designers are already doing it. Biophilic design simply involves using nature in interior projects. That does include installing a living wall of plants, but it’s also as simple as creating clear sight lines for a window that overlooks a garden. So why is this relatively straightforward concept—with a confusing name—suddenly all the rage?

“Biophilic design adds another element to how we think about sustainability, and how we think about human health and well-being in sustainable spaces,” Rhode Island School of Design Nature Lab director Neal Overstrom tells Business of Home. As more and more of us live and work in urbanized spaces, disconnected from the natural world, it has increasingly become a front-of-mind problem.

Harvard biologist E.O. Wilson was simply connecting the dots between our behavior today and how it’s an adaptation for survival when he created the concept of biophilic design in the 1980s. “Biophilia,” Wilson said in 1984, “is the innately emotional affiliation of human beings to other living organisms.” He continued, “Life around us exceeds in complexity and beauty anything else humanity is ever likely to encounter.”

In some ways, the “what” of the concept is obvious—essentially, it stems from a love of place. “Biophilia is the humankind’s innate biological connection with nature,” reported environmental consulting firm Terrapin Bright Green in a 2012 paper titled “The Economics of Biophilia.” “It helps explain why crackling fires and crashing waves captivate us; why a garden view can enhance our creativity; why shadows and heights instill fascination and fear; and why animal companionship and strolling through a park have restorative, healing effects.”

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