Biophilic design: natural analogues

in biophilic design

Literally bringing nature indoors is the first biophilic design strategy to restore a healthy and meaningful connection with nature in interior spaces.
But it is not the only one.

Natural analogues – the second category of biophilic design patterns – includes indirect strategies that rely on an analogy with natural shapes and forms.

Such strategies are better explained in the following 3 biophilic design patterns.

8. Biomorphic forms & patterns

Nature-inspired textures, shapes, patterns.

Natural textures, patterns and shapes are all rich and complex, but structured at the same time. They've developed according to incredibly precise ratios and proportions, quantified with concepts like the Fibonacci series or the Golden section.

As complicated as this may sound, this ordered complexity has been proven to have a soothing effect on our mind and biophilic design aims at reproducing it in interiors.

Biomorphic forms and patterns can be introduced at all levels. From the structural design of a space (beams, columns, facades), to wall & floor finishes and accessories.

Another interesting element to consider is that in nature, curves and smooth angles are the rule as opposed to straights lines. This can be of inspiration for the design of interiors, leaving more space for curved, organic forms.

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Selection of home accessories recalling natural shapes and patterns, ideal to create a biophilic design.<span class="sr-only"> (opened in a new window/tab)</span>
Credit (from left): Lamp by Roche Bobois (opened in a new window/tab), Artwork by Moebe (opened in a new window/tab)+Paper Collective (opened in a new window/tab)+Norm Architects (opened in a new window/tab), Cushion by H&M Home (opened in a new window/tab), Candle holders by A by Amara. Update: unfortunately this item is no longer available. Moodboard: DforDesign
Biophilic wood floor, with carved flowers.<span class="sr-only"> (opened in a new window/tab)</span>
Credit: Bisazza (via Instagram) (opened in a new window/tab)
Tiles with wavy texture, a great example of biophilic design.<span class="sr-only"> (opened in a new window/tab)</span>
Credit: Marazzi (opened in a new window/tab)
Wallpaper with branches pattern.<span class="sr-only"> (opened in a new window/tab)</span>
Credit: My Fresko (opened in a new window/tab)
Curved wooden flooring, a great option for a biophilic design.<span class="sr-only"> (opened in a new window/tab)</span>
Credit: Bolefloor (opened in a new window/tab)

9. Material connection with nature

Natural materials and elements that reflect the local environment in terms of ecology or geology.

This pattern is aimed at creating a strong link between man-made spaces and their geographic location. Every place in the world has specific plants, rivers or some natural feature that makes it unique. A biophilic design will take inspiration from these features, creating buildings and interiors that truly belong to their specific location, celebrate its beauty and promote people’s attachment to it.

This can translate into sourcing local materials for the realization of interior finishes. Or even in reusing the trees cut on a building site as part of the design (as in the project shown below).

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Dining room with trees being part of the interior design, stunning application of biophilic design.<span class="sr-only"> (opened in a new window/tab)</span>
Credit: Hironaka Ogawa (opened in a new window/tab) (via Home Adore (opened in a new window/tab))
Wood panelling on floor and wall, great inspiration for a biophilic design.<span class="sr-only"> (opened in a new window/tab)</span>
Credit: Jagdhaus Tamers by EM2 ARCHITEKTEN (opened in a new window/tab) (via Caandesign (opened in a new window/tab))

10. Complexity & Order

Rich sensory information recalling natural spatial hierarchies.

Natural shapes are full of hierarchies, technically called fractals (opened in a new window/tab). A fractal can be thought of as a never-ending pattern, that repeats itself over and over again in different scales and sizes.

Leaf patterns, wood grain, corals, snowflakes are just some examples of fractal patterns in nature. And there are endless ways of incorporating them in interiors, from wall finishes to smaller accessories.

When using fractal patterns in interiors and buildings, moderation is key.
Indeed, it has been proven that a very high fractal dimension (i.e. the same pattern repeated a lot of times) can be perceived as stressful and uncomfortable in an interior. A three-step iteration seems to be a good rule of thumb to end up with a pleasant biophilic design.

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Sliding door with a coral patter impressed, great example of biophilic design.<span class="sr-only"> (opened in a new window/tab)</span>
Credit: Casali (opened in a new window/tab) (via Archiproducts (opened in a new window/tab))
Tree-shaped columns at The Tote: bar and lounge in Mumbai, India.<span class="sr-only"> (opened in a new window/tab)</span>
Credit: The Tote: bar and lounge in Mumbai by Serie Architects (opened in a new window/tab)

Keep exploring biophilic design through its other patterns:

Or take a look at my Biophilic Design Guide for a recap of all 14 patterns of biophilic design + links to more in-depth articles.

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