Biophilic Design: Why It Matters In Flooring

The interplay of shadows, shapes and repetition found in nature is harnessed through Biophilic Design in the built environment.

For centuries, Biophilia – defined as humankind’s innate connection with the natural world — has been expressed subconsciously in art and design. We have a sixth sense of how panoramas, color, light, sound, shape and smell can affect us in positive ways. Biophilia evolved into a design discipline under the leadership of the late Stephen Kellert, who pioneered what we now know as Biophilic Design: a conscious effort to integrate nature into the built environment in meaningful ways.

Why do we need Biophilic Design? As humans have evolved, the “natural habitat” of our contemporary population has largely become the great indoors where, according to Kellert, we now spend 90% of our time. Said Kellert, “The need for beneficial contact with nature continues to be critical to people’s health and fitness, but its satisfactory occurrence in today’s built environment has become highly challenging.”

 

Bringing plants into indoor environments is the most obvious and simple way to integrate nature, but is not Biophilic Design. Neither is merely adding a living wall, although it’s a start. Other features such as light, water, exterior views, natural colors and textures, variation of air flow, and the inclusion of indigenous cultural and ecological references all combine to build a biophilically designed environment.

As a flooring manufacturer, at Aspecta we have inherently used biophilic influences in our designs – wood grains, stone or even abstract looks all influenced by nature – for decades. We know from experience these looks resonate most deeply with architects, designers and end users. Now research proves that these biophilic designs can produce measureable improvements for how people experience the built environment. That is why biophilic design now drives the creation of our products.

Environments evoking biophilic patterns have been shown to positively affect a wide spectrum of physical, mental and behavioral benefits. According to Kellert, physical outcomes include enhanced health and physical fitness, lower blood pressure and fewer illness symptoms. Mental benefits range from increased satisfaction and motivation, less stress and anxiety, to improved problem solving and creativity. Positive behavioral change includes better coping and mastery skills, enhanced attention and concentration, and improved social interaction.

Flooring can be the pathway to biophilic design: literally the groundwork for integrating it into both residential and commercial environments. As designers, that’s where we should start to build the desired atmosphere we want to achieve for the space.

Resilient flooring so effectively replicates natural materials and patterns, making it one of the most versatile, affordable yet low-maintenance materials to help achieve biophilic design objectives. It often replicates wood grain patterns because they are so inviting – nature’s neutrals. Biophilic Design appeal in flooring also occurs wherever there’s an interplay of light and shadow: diffuse and variable, integrated with spatial properties.

Debuting at NeoCon, our Aspecta Ten Tilt & Tones flooring demonstrates how two Biophilic Design elements were incorporated.

The collection features 24” x 24” tiles presented in four color groups, each consisting of 4 unique Tilt tile designs that can be paired with 2 companion Tones tiles. Aspecta Ten Tilt & Tones had a dual biophilic design inspiration:

Fractals: Natural geometries and scale that are the building blocks of nature. Patterns that evoke fractal scaling naturally stimulate our visual and tactile interest. Nature is not literally repetitious or predictable and neither are the Tilt tiles, which echo nature by taking a geometric form and making it become organic. The Tilt pattern was inspired by hard-edged angles and lines reflected in geometrically shaped shadows, while reflecting Fractal patterns of repetition and scale.

Sensory Variability: In nature, one finds rhythmic repetition and layers of beauty, which are experienced as comfort and reassurance. Tones tiles evolved from the diffused effect that angular shadows cast upon textiles and outdoor surfaces such as rocks, beaches and meadows.

Visit aspectaflooring.com for a deep dive into how biophilic design is expressed in each of Aspecta’s 200+ flooring designs. Biophilic elements and patterns have been added to the product filter for search using biophilic criteria.

We invite you to learn more about how Biophilic Design elements can be expressed in flooring by taking Aspecta’s CEU course “Biophilic Design & Resilient Flooring” available on AEC Daily. Sign up for an Aspecta representative to present the course in person HERE. Visit us at NeoCon Booth 7-10115.