What's the Difference Between Biophilia and Biophilic Design? (2024)

Biophilia and Biophilic Design – two huge buzzwords at the moment in the interior design world. But what do they mean, and how are they different? Is there even a difference?


Biophilia is described as “an innate and genetically determined affinity of human beings with the natural world” by the biologist E.O. Wilson. His theory suggests that humans have an innate attraction for living things, a love of nature that they are born with. It indicates that humans want to seek connections with other living things. The word is from the new Latin “love of life”, from ‘bio’ + ‘philia’.

Biophilic Design

Biophilic Design is linked to Biophilia, but quite different in some ways as well. It plays on the idea of Biophilia, but adds extra elements and practicalities to bring this theory into the built environment more effectively.

Biophilic Design focuses on natural shapes, textures, light, planting and other elements to create a space that has hints of nature running through it. Designers draw inspiration from nature to create spaces that evoke a positive reaction. It’s proven that spaces with these elements in help increase employees happiness and productivity, and reduce absenteeism and illness.

Some of the main forms of Biophilic Design are:

  • Planting

Plants are the obvious choice for any business wanting to add some biophilic touches to their office. They help add some colour into the space, and improve the environment as they filter the air and keep the humidity at the optimum level. Artificial plants can also be used to bring in colour and vibrancy to the space. These are particularly useful when they are placed in environments where live planting wouldn’t survive. Green walls and Moss walls also are used to help green up spaces. Learn more about Office Plants

  • Lighting

It is also extremely important that workers get enough natural light in their environment. Spaces that are starved of natural light are depressive and this has a negative effect on the people there. Artificial lighting can also be used – by colour changing lighting, companies can use this to tap into their workers circadian rhythms and help them feel more relaxed.

  • Textures and Colours

The textures and colours in a space also have a big biophilic benefit. Wood, stone and green textures help create a more inviting and natural space. This can be brought in through furniture finishes, wall finishes, and flooring. Many companies now are producing biophilic wall coverings and flooring finishes to assist designers in bringing these elements into a space.


Biophilia is the innate connection between human beings and other living things, whereas Biophilic Design is how designers play on this idea and bring natural elements into a space to help make it more attractive and resonant with the senses.

What's the Difference Between Biophilia and Biophilic Design? (1)

What's the Difference Between Biophilia and Biophilic Design? (2024)


What's the Difference Between Biophilia and Biophilic Design? ›

Biophilia is the innate connection between human beings and other living things, whereas Biophilic Design is how designers play on this idea and bring natural elements into a space to help make it more attractive and resonant with the senses.

What is the difference between biophilic and biomimetic? ›

So What's the Difference? In a nutshell, biomimicry is the “mimicry,” or more accurately, the emulation of life's engineering. In contrast, biophilia describes humans' connection with nature and biophilic design is replicating experiences of nature in design to reinforce that connection.

What makes a design biophilic? ›

Biophilic design is an approach to architecture that seeks to connect building occupants more closely to nature. Biophilic designed buildings incorporate things like natural lighting and ventilation, natural landscape features and other elements for creating a more productive and healthy built environment for people.

What is an example of biophilia? ›

The Barbican Centre is one of the earliest and most famous examples of biophilic architecture. Opened in the 1980s as an estate in London, it's renowned for its striking, brutalist design. The bleak style of the Barbican is juxtaposed with the use of natural and artificial lakes and extensive wildlife.

What is the difference between biophilia and Biomorphism? ›

Biomorphism looks at nature as an inspiration for unconventional forms. Biophilia concerns how nature or natural elements make us feel, what impacts are the greatest in terms of physical and psychological wellbeing. These are the differences.

What is the difference between biophilia and biophilic design? ›

Biophilia is the innate connection between human beings and other living things, whereas Biophilic Design is how designers play on this idea and bring natural elements into a space to help make it more attractive and resonant with the senses.

What is the opposite of biophilia? ›

We like to think of biophilia as finding the joy in nature – 'affiliating with other forms of life' sounds a tad creepy. The opposite, biophobia, is the fear of nature.

What are the disadvantages of biophilic design? ›

Cons: Cost: Incorporating biophilic design into a workspace can be expensive. The cost of materials, design, and construction can be prohibitive for some businesses. Maintenance: Natural elements in the workplace require maintenance, including watering plants and cleaning up leaves and debris.

What are the three pillars of biophilic design? ›

It is just now that design professionals and researchers are pulling these together en masse and presenting them under the umbrella of biophilic design. There are three pillars of Biophilic Design: Nature in the Space, Nature of the Space and Natural Analogues.

What are the colors for biophilic design? ›

How did Biophilic Design become simplified to green and wood? From a colour psychology perspective, I can see why these elements were chosen as the 'poster children' for biophilia. On a very primitive level, we are reassured by green, knowing where there is green we can find food and water – it equals life.

What is not biophilia? ›

Aspects that are unrelated or offer limited sustained benefits to people, such as desert or deep-sea habitats, microorganisms, alien species, extinct species, or obscure elements, are not considered integral to biophilic design.

What is the theory of biophilia design? ›

Biophilic design fosters positive and sustained interactions and relationships among people and the natural environment. Humans are a deeply social species whose security and productivity depends on positive interactions within a spatial context.

What is biophilic style? ›

Biophilic design is a concept used within the building industry to increase occupant connectivity to the natural environment through the use of direct nature, indirect nature, and space and place conditions.

What is the aesthetic of biophilic design? ›

Thus, biophilic design introduces elements that appeal to all our senses: sight, but also smell, hearing, and touch… To enjoy relaxing sounds, fresh scents, in open spaces that offer a visual connection with nature.

What is the difference between green architecture and biophilic design? ›

Difference Between Biophilic and Green Architecture

While both approaches are important for creating sustainable and healthy buildings, biophilic architecture places more emphasis on the psychological and emotional benefits of connecting with nature.

What is the difference between biomimicry and bio inspired design? ›

An important factor that differentiates biomimicry from other bio-inspired design approaches is the emphasis on learning from and emulating the regenerative solutions living systems have for specific functional challenges.

What is a biomimetic design? ›

Biomimetic Design, or in simpler terms Biomimicry, is a practice that learns from and mimics the strategies used by natural species alive today. It follows the concept that the secret to our survival in the future lies in the natural evolution of species that remain on this planet after billions of years.

What is Biomimetics also known as? ›

Biomimetics or biomimicry is the emulation of the models, systems, and elements of nature for the purpose of solving complex human problems.

What is a biomimetic environment? ›

Biomimetics, also known as biomimicry, is defined as the imitation of biological processes or models from nature aiming to solve various complex biological problems such as the drug delivery in biomedical applications, characterization of nanostructurated biohybrid materials, etc.

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