Biophilic design is a holistic approach to architecture and interior design that aims to connect people with nature. One of the key ways to incorporate biophilic design principles into a space is through the selection of furniture
Biophilic design is a holistic approach to architecture and interior design that aims to connect people with nature. It is based on the principle that humans have an innate need to connect with the natural world, and that doing so can improve our physical, mental, and emotional well-being.
One of the key ways to incorporate biophilic design principles into a space is through the selection of furniture. Biophilic furniture design is initially about using natural materials and organic shapes to create a sense of connection with nature – natural analogues.
But importantly it also has to contribute to nature in the space and even nature of the space elements. These are the intangibles of biophilia: the feeling you get in a cosy space, the wonder of aspect – wide vistas, the delight of discovery – and are potentially the most impactful biophilic design aspects.
These terms, come from the Terrapin Bright Green Patterns of Biophilic Design paper where they outline a set of 14 patterns that can be used to guide the design of biophilic spaces. These patterns are divided into three categories:
- Nature in the Space: This category includes patterns that focus on bringing natural elements into the space, such as direct sunlight, views of nature, and living plants.
- Natural Analogues: This category includes patterns that focus on using natural materials, shapes, and textures in design.
- Nature of the Space: This category includes patterns that focus on creating spatial relationships that are inspired by nature, such as biomorphic forms and complex spatial sequences.
Selecting Furniture for each Pattern of Biophilic Design
Here are some tips for selecting furniture that aligns with each of the Terrapin Bright Green Patterns of Biophilic Design:
Nature in the Space:
- Direct Sunlight: When selecting furniture for a space with direct sunlight, consider choosing pieces that are made from materials that can withstand sunlight exposure, such as wood, metal, or glass. You may also want to choose furniture that is designed to maximize sunlight exposure, such as chairs with transparent backs or tables with glass tops.
- Views of Nature: If possible, choose furniture that is oriented to provide views of nature. For example, you could place a sofa near a window that overlooks a garden or position a desk so that the user can see trees outside.
- Living Plants: Living plants are a great way to bring nature into any space. When selecting furniture for a space with plants, consider choosing pieces that are designed to accommodate plants, such as coffee tables with built-in planters or plant stands.
- Natural Materials: Choose furniture that is made from natural materials, such as wood, bamboo, rattan, or wool. These materials can create a warm and inviting atmosphere, and they can also help to connect people with nature.
- Natural Shapes: Look for furniture with organic shapes and curves. These shapes are more reminiscent of nature than geometric shapes, and they can help to create a more relaxed and inviting space.
- Natural Textures: Choose furniture with a variety of textures, such as grained wood, smooth metal, or soft wool. This can help to add visual interest to the space and create a more tactile experience.
Nature of the Space:
- Biomorphic Forms: Look for furniture with biomorphic forms, such as chairs with rounded backs or tables with organic shapes. These forms can help to create a more natural and inviting space.
- Complex Spatial Sequences: Arrange furniture in a way that creates complex spatial sequences. For example, you could create a series of vignettes within a larger space, or you could use furniture to create a sense of flow and movement.
- Self-encapsulated design: Furniture that within itself encapsulates elements of mystery or refuge. Office pods that ‘hug’ the sitter or hidden compartments for storage or that conceal charging points for example.
Additional Considerations for Biophilic Furniture Design
In addition to the above tips, there are a few other things to keep in mind when selecting furniture for a biophilic space:
- Scale: Choose furniture that is scaled appropriately to the space. Furniture that is too large or too small can make a space feel cramped or unbalanced.
- Colour: Choose furniture colours that are inspired by nature. For example, you could choose muted and naturalistic shades of green, blue, or brown. These colours can help to create a more calming and relaxing atmosphere.
- Functionality: When selecting furniture, it is important to consider its functionality. Make sure to choose pieces that are comfortable and easy to use. You should consider the needs of the people who will be using the space certainly, but also the tasks they need to complete whilst using the furniture. Do they need collaboration spaces, focus, ideation or creativity?
By following these tips, architects and interior designers can select furniture that will help to create biophilic spaces that are both beautiful and functional. Biophilic furniture design can have many positive benefits, including improved mood, reduced stress, and increased creativity. By connecting people with nature, biophilic design can help to create spaces that are both healthy and enjoyable.