Learning From Nature: Leveraging 4 Billion Years of Nature’s Problem-Solving Skills
Written by: Graeme Labe, Principal & Managing Director, Luxury Frontiers
How do you feel hiking in lush forests or running along the edge of the ocean? How does it differ from running on a road or a treadmill? The action may be the same, but for most our emotional response to being in nature will completely transform the experience. Humans spend 93 percent of their time indoors, but if nature can enhance even the most mundane activities, surely designers have a responsibility to pull the natural world into the built environment.
At Luxury Frontiers, we are cognizant of challenges brought on by climate change and overly developed built environments. As such, a key principle in our company ethos is to counteract the damages that humanity has inflicted upon the earth by promoting the theoretical premises of biomimicry and biophilia in our hospitality designs. We aim to integrate these principles on physical, philosophical, and psychological levels into all the work we do.
Easy to confuse, biomimicry and biophilia learn from nature in different ways, leveraging nearly 4 billion years of nature’s problem-solving skills to generate sustainable design solutions and technologies. The former is the imitation or emulation of nature’s engineering to solve mankind’s design challenges, while the latter describes human connection with nature and recognizes the physical and physiological benefits of our biological connectedness with the natural world.
From innovative passive cooling structures to the invention of Velcro, the magnitude of the technological advances achieved through biomimetic design is astounding. By using nature as a mentor, for example, the aerodynamic bullet train was conceived by carefully studying the shape of a bird’s beak, and the Wright brothers’ first flying machine emulated the flight of pigeons. Meanwhile, biophilia (that is, “love of life”) inserts instances of nature, natural patterns, or spatial conditions into the built environment to facilitate reduction of stress, improvement of cognitive performance, and support of positive emotions and mood.
Typically, biomimicry is more frequently used in technological and product development while biophilia applies more directly to interior design, architecture, and urban planning. Biophilic designs are often more subtle attempts to pull nature into human-built and human-serving environments.
As a hospitality design firm, Luxury Frontiers has a responsibility to stimulate and improve the human psyche within the built environment by learning from the solutions that nature has conjured over centuries.
Whether adopting the systematic thinking behind biomimicry or the sensory-driven biophilic approach, it is important to draw inspiration from the natural realm if we wish to make valuable contributions to the built world.
“I go to nature every day for inspiration in the day’s work. I follow in building the principles which nature has used in its domain.” – Frank Lloyd Wright