Biophilic Design and Wellness: Biomorphic Forms & Patterns, Material Connections, and Complexity & Order

Our biophilic design and wellness series continues today with patterns eight, nine, and ten: biomorphic forms & patterns, material connections with nature, and complexity & order. With an emphasis on visual and textural elements of spaces, these three patterns work together to create spaces that prioritize our natural inclinations towards the outside world.


Biomorphic Forms & Patterns

Consider the curves and angles of geometric shapes that occur in nature. Perhaps it’s the symmetry of flower petals or the intriguing spirals of a seashell that come to mind. Or, maybe you recall the circular texture of a bird’s nest. Whatever your experience, it’s likely you’ve seen these types of forms and patterns in abundance outdoors.

In design, when we incorporate organic and biomorphic forms, we are not necessarily using actual living things, but are instead seeking to emulate and reference natural patterns. Ultimately, we use forms and patterns that are symbolic, avoiding the harsh edges of right angles and straight lines and instead turning towards symmetrical moments of interest and captivation. Whether used in a functional way, as a decorative piece, or a structural aspect of a design, biomorphic forms and patterns work to reduce our daily stress and enhance our concentration – both keys to establishing healthy life balance.

The curved silhouette of this lounge chair paired with its textured woven pattern provides a natural connection to the outdoor world. / Source: ASID Academy

The curved silhouette of this lounge chair paired with its textured woven pattern provides a natural connection to the outdoor world. / Source: ASID Academy

Hanging parasols decorate the ceiling of this atrium, providing a sense of symmetry that mimics geometric patterns outdoors. / Source:   Kyoto-Tsujikura

Hanging parasols decorate the ceiling of this atrium, providing a sense of symmetry that mimics geometric patterns outdoors. / Source: Kyoto-Tsujikura

 
Emulating the texture and shape of a bird’s nest, this installation provides the perfect nature-inspired backdrop to this restaurant. / Source: ASID Academy

Emulating the texture and shape of a bird’s nest, this installation provides the perfect nature-inspired backdrop to this restaurant. / Source: ASID Academy

 

Material Connection with Nature

Similar to biomorphic forms and patterns, material connection with nature takes its inspiration from the outside world and seeks to incorporate it into interior design. Yet, this pattern specifically features actual materials found in the local ecology and geology, guided by the core belief that humans always prefer real to synthetic materials. Touch is at the center of this pattern, and creating a space where exploration is encouraged is a major component.

This pattern manifests itself in design through a number of different ways, including the incorporation of certain color palettes (e.g. the use of green to encourage creativity), using a variety of materials in a single space (e.g. bamboo, woodwork, stonework, or dried grasses), and the use of these materials in specific ways based on a room’s functional needs (e.g. a certain percentage of wood in a room can either decrease blood pressure or serve to encourage restoration or relaxation, making it essential to determine your home or business needs when choosing this material). By using natural materials, we can enhance our ability to grow and thrive within our interior environments.

Wood paneling in this hotel lobby offers a material connection to nature that instantly softens the overarching corporate space. /   Source

Wood paneling in this hotel lobby offers a material connection to nature that instantly softens the overarching corporate space. / Source

By using wooden elements in a variety of elements within this space, it evokes feelings of nature and helps to create an experience grounded in biophilia. /   Source

By using wooden elements in a variety of elements within this space, it evokes feelings of nature and helps to create an experience grounded in biophilia. / Source

A combination of natural materials and colors, including earth tones, stone, and dried grasses, makes this space the perfect reflection of the outdoor world. / Source: ASID Academy

A combination of natural materials and colors, including earth tones, stone, and dried grasses, makes this space the perfect reflection of the outdoor world. / Source: ASID Academy


Complexity & Order

Our final pattern for today, complexity and order, takes its cue from the geometries and hierarchies found in nature and prioritizes symmetrical design that is sensory- and information-rich. The trick with this pattern, though, is to maintain balance between simplicity and overwhelm. If the design is too pared down, it will lack the appropriate levels of complexity to create intrigue, whereas if the design is too busy, it can actually backfire and lead to increased stress for the onlooker.

To create spaces with this pattern, it is essential to look to artwork and architectural features to display a sense of order. In fact, these types of designs have been used for centuries across the world to evoke feelings of calm and awe. With fractals at the heart of an interior, we can work to reduce the stress and emulate nature in every way possible.

 
In this light-filled atrium, complex geometric patterns and shapes manifest themselves in the banister, light fixtures, and ceiling details, promoting a sense of intrigue and wonder. / Source: ASID Academy

In this light-filled atrium, complex geometric patterns and shapes manifest themselves in the banister, light fixtures, and ceiling details, promoting a sense of intrigue and wonder. / Source: ASID Academy

 
Striking a balance between complexity and simplicity, this lounge pairs bold neutral pops with intricate patterns and streamlined wooden features for an all-around exciting aesthetic. /   Source

Striking a balance between complexity and simplicity, this lounge pairs bold neutral pops with intricate patterns and streamlined wooden features for an all-around exciting aesthetic. / Source

The symmetry of this hierarchical arched entryway excels in its attention to detail and sense of calm and order. / Source:   Park Associates

The symmetry of this hierarchical arched entryway excels in its attention to detail and sense of calm and order. / Source: Park Associates


Between biomorphic forms & patterns, material connections with nature, and complexity & order, there are limitless ways to emulate nature in our spaces, and there is no doubt that doing so has innumerable health benefits on our lives. As you consider the aspects of your space, remember to prioritize the visual symmetry and textural forms found in nature – you may find that by doing so, your stress levels decrease, and your enjoyment of life far exceeds what you ever believed to be possible.

 

By Megan Johansson, Contributor to Vela Creative

Megan Johansson