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Beneath the Trend: Biophilia

At Arborite we believe developing relevant designs requires understanding the cultural drivers behind trends.

It’s winter in Montreal. But despite the cold and dark, people bundle up and get outside. Our city is full of festivals and light. The greenhouses at Montreal Botanical Garden bustle with visitors longing for lush surroundings. Throughout the city people enjoy ice skating, sleighrides and sledding. Soupe aux pois and tart au sucre (pea soup and maple sugar pie) keep us warm and connected to nature. Also, poutine.

It’s the perfect time to unpack the design trend biophilia.

Psychologist Erich Fromm first used the word biophilia in 1964 to describe “the passionate love of life and all that is alive.” The basic concept acknowledges that human beings are part of the natural world, and thus feel a biological need for contact with the natural world. Friendly, eh?

Over the decades it’s been the basis of countless studies in different areas of architecture, design and science. Research shows biophilic design can improve productivity, enhance learning comprehension, reduce stress and increase recovery rates from illness.

But why is biophilia trending now?

Part of it has to do with a desire to find balance in a society where technology is ubiquitous. Looking at pictures of trees on Instagram isn’t the same as standing in the forest, smelling the evergreens, hearing the snow crunch, feeling the breeze, tasting the sap of the thaw....mmmmm maple syrup... ahem, pardon.

W-474 LE – Uptown Urban Walnut

Another factor is the rate people are moving into cities and apartments. The UN predicts 66% of the world’s population will live in urban environments by 2050. Underlying this shift are the two most populous generations, Baby Boomers and Millennials, both moving toward smaller living spaces for different reasons. Boomers are downsizing and simplifying- gravitating to homes that are low maintenance, close to entertainment and provide easy access to quality healthcare.

Millennials are characteristically “woke,” valuing experiences over things. They are more likely to rent than own property, and when Millennials do buy homes, they prioritize efficiency, sustainability and proximity to cultural experiences over traditional grandeur.

Enter biophilia.

More than the classic design concept of “bringing the outside in,” application of biophilic design gives modern people much-needed natural touchpoints. It’s the driving factor in the on-going trends toward making healthcare and hospitality more spa-like. Think blues and greens, strategic windows and water features. But that’s just the beginning. Living walls and light fixtures are appearing in restaurants and boardrooms. Stone, woodgrain and leather soften austere metal and temper opulent textiles. The patterns, colors and textures found in nature are being incorporated in materials both obvious (welcome back, chintz!) and refined.

P-948 – Hiverna

P-394 – Arctic Snow

Whether bold or subtle, tactile and visual cues that trigger a sense of nature help offset the strain of urban dwelling in a technology-based society. Biophilic design, with its power to transform, revive and relax, will influence more specific trends into the future.

Arborite’s collection is continually curated to harmonize with major macro trends. Biophilia comes through in woodgrains tuned to urban settings as well as abstract patterns with natural origins.

Just as no single characteristic defines a time, each design in our collection aspires to express the intersection and integration of all relevant fashions, and the beautifully-human anthropology that drives them. Stay tuned.

 
 

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