What the Heck Is Biophilic Design? - WBCB: The Valley's CW |

What the Heck Is Biophilic Design?


We’ve talked a lot in the past about biophilia in our blogs, but for a refresher, biophilia is the name for the innate psychological need in humans to associate with nature and other types of life. Outside of the their air purification properties, It’s a big part of the reason that plant-life, regardless of the environment you’re in, does so much to alleviate stress and boost your mood. It makes sense then, that biophilic design is the practice of designing buildings and spaces around promoting and enhancing that biophilic connection in the people who use them. In short, biophilic design is integrating nature into the design of human places.

Biophilic design has been practiced in different forms all over the world for most of human history, from the modern plant walls that we at Plantz install today all the way back to the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, one of the wonders of the ancient world. Yale professor Dr. Stephen Kellert, who was considered one of the leaders of biophilic study before his death, dedicated much of his life to outlining the different ways in which biophilic design works on us. In his studies, Dr. Kellert described three distinct kinds of “experiences” related to biophilic design that we’re going to outline below:

The experience of space and place

  • The experience of space and place is a little bit abstract. Basically, it’s when a space evokes natural patterns to make it feel more organic and natural. This can mean anything from designing a space that segments itself around a focal center like a flower with petals to simply prioritizing ease and comfort of mobility in the floorspace. The experience of space and place is, ultimately, mimicking the structures and shapes of the natural world while not inherently using any natural materials.

The indirect experience of nature

  • The indirect experience of nature is a bit more concrete than the experience of space and place. The indirect experience is when a space uses natural imagery, earthy colors, and materials from the natural world like wood or stone in its layout. While the indirect experience may or may not be done in conjunction with the experience of space and place, in isolation the indirect experience gives a stronger sense of a natural presence than the first experience, often being the kinds of elements that people talk about when they say a place feels ‘woodsy’.

The direct experience of nature

  • The direct experience of nature is by far the easiest to grasp. The direct experience is when a space uses active natural elements such as natural light, flowing water, and of course plants and plant walls, to amplify the feeling of a natural connection in a definitively man-made place. The direct experience is the most evocative of the three experiences, and it’s the most directly effective at tapping into the benefits of biophilic design to reduce stress and encourage relaxation. Despite how powerful it is, the direct experience of nature has often been pushed off to the side and is the least commonly used of the three experiences in most urban environments.

At PLANTZ, it’s our mission to make people happy with plants! We want to fight back against the trend of being pulled farther and farther from nature in the day-to-day, so we specialize in bringing the direct experience of nature into the lives of our customers! Do you think that our plant walls sound amazing and want to look into them yourself? You can find an article with a breakdown of how our plant wall installations typically go right over here! Are you thinking about taking the first step towards a stronger biophilic connection? To start your path to the reduced stress and enhanced moods of biophilic design in your workspace, contact our indoor plant experts today to learn out about our office plant offerings and our plant care services.

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