From a life mostly spent outdoors, many of us now prefer the comfort of our homes. However, the subconscious desire to connect with nature makes us introduce natural elements into our interior environments. In 1984, Harvard University ecologist Edward O. Wilson, who described biophilia as ‘the urge to affiliate with other forms of life’, said, “Nature holds the key to our aesthetic, intellectual, cognitive, and even spiritual satisfaction. So, the more direct connections people have with nature, the better.”
This is not surprising, given how most, when asked about their favourite places, are likely to respond with a name that has a nature connection. Biophilic design was born out of an innate human need to retain this affinity for nature within a built environment.
According to Australia State the Environments, most Australians spend more than 90% of their time indoors. Biophilic design, therefore, presents an opportunity for people to connect the indoors with the outdoors by introducing elements of nature into interior spaces.
Early twentieth-century architect Frank Lloyd Wright used the term ‘organic architecture’ to describe buildings designed in harmony with people and their environment. While biophilic design is hardly a new phenomenon, there is growing evidence of its positive impact in all types of commercial indoor establishments across workplaces, education facilities, hospitality venues, retail establishments and healthcare buildings.
The Human Spaces 2015 report titled The Global Impact of Biophilic Design in the Workplace, says, “Perceptions of wellbeing increase by up to 15% when people work in surroundings that incorporate natural elements, compared to those who have no contact with nature in their workplace.”
Biophilic design in flooring
Representing one of the largest surface areas in any commercial establishment, flooring is a practical design tool to create a connection with nature and the outdoors. Coloured carpet tiles, for instance, featuring nature’s myriad hues can be a great way to tell a story within a space, delight the senses, provide acoustic support and create a deep feeling of comfort.
Angelique Mandarano, commercial product manager at Signature adds, “In place of the lineal or graphic designs, which were commonplace in commercial interiors, there is a growing demand for carpet tile designs that are more organic, tactile and textural complemented by natural finishes like timber and stone.”
The textured patterns and organic shapes of many carpet tiles and vinyl planks take design inspiration from nature, delivering a realistic sense of the natural environment within interior spaces. For instance, commercial-grade vinyl planks offer true-to-life renditions, emulating the timeless and raw look and feel associated with timber and stone flooring. Custom nature-inspired carpets are an excellent way to evoke the great outdoors, especially within large hospitality settings.
There’s more. The concept of biophilic design also extends to the environmental credentials of flooring products. When sustainability is a priority, remember to look for products with GreenTag Green Rate Level A Certifications, Declare Labels and Environmental Product Declaration.
Backed by new technologies, processes and systems, commercial flooring is at the forefront of biophilic and sustainable design. With Signature’s diverse suite of flooring products, designers have plenty of options to create spaces that inspire and rejuvenate occupants.
PSM Designer: Foster & Associates
Macquarie University, Designer: Gray Puksand Photography: Robert Walsh