Biophilic design: natural analogues

in Biophilic Design

This post is a continuation of the mini-series on biophilic design.
Previous posts on the series:

Literally bringing nature indoors is the first, most intuitive way of restoring 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 divided in two 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 develop according to incredibly precise ratios and proportions that have been 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 both in the structural design of a space (beams, columns, facades) and in finishing touches like accessories and décor, making it accessible for everyone to achieve a certain degree of biophilic design at home.

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 (opened in a new window/tab). Moodboard: DforDesign

Floor and wall finishes are also a great option to recall nature, with several textured options available.

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)

In nature, curves and smooth angles are the rule as opposed to straights lines. This can be a point of inspiration for the design of interiors, preferring curved, more cuddling lines.

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 link between man-made spaces and their geographic location. Every place in the world has special plants, rivers or some natural feature that makes it unique. A biophilic design will take inspiration from them, creating buildings and interiors that really belong to their specific location, celebrate its beauty and promote people’s attachment to it.
An idea here could be sourcing local materials for the realization of interior finishes.

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))

Or even keeping the trees cut on a building site and using them as part of the design, as was done in this stunning project by Hironaka Ogawa.


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))

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). You can think of a fractal as a never-ending pattern, that repeats itself over and over again in different scales and sizes. Think about a big branch that splits into smaller ones, or a Romanesco cauliflower.

A romanesco cauliflower.<span class="sr-only"> (opened in a new window/tab)</span>
Credit: Pixabay

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

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))

When using fractal patterns in interiors and buildings, moderation is key. 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.


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)

Biophilic design is apparently a complex topic, but in reality is actually accessible and (at least partially) achievable within our everyday life!

Discover an example of biophilic design

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