Why Biophilic Design Is Good For You: And “Bio” Terminologies Defined

In biomimicry, biomorphic patterns, biophilia, biophilic design, community center design, green design for interiors, green installations for public spaces, green solutions for the workplace, green walls, greenery for public spaces, library design, maintenance free green walls, maintenance free moss design, nature inspired design, public space design, Uncategorized by fatplantsocietyLeave a Comment

Biophilic design is good for your mental and physical well being and we will explain why.  But before we do that, let’s break down the many “bio” terms that are currently being used in architecture, engineering, and design and define these terminologies and the role each plays in improving the spaces in which we live and work.

Moss installation at Nikao Corporation in Overland Park, Kansas. 6-ft by 2-ft pillow moss installation that complements the natural wood design.

Biophilic Design

Biophilic Design uses the principles of biophilia (as coined by E.O. Wilson as “the urge to affiliate with other forms of life”) to create a natural and human-centered approach that improves our work and living spaces through benefits to our health and well-being.


Biomimicry (and we always link to the work of Janine Benyus while simultaneously applauding the work of great guy Jamie Miller, founder of Biomimicry Frontiers) is the design and production of materials, structures, and systems that are modeled on biological entities and processes. Essentially, the larger picture regarding how to mimic nature (Mama Nature knows way more than we do) in everything from urban planning to building design.

Jamie Miller, Founder of Biomimicry Frontiers uses the Calla Lily as the model for the water moving impeller.

Biomorphic Forms and Patterns

Biomorphic forms and patterns are those that are made from and/or reflect the natural world.  Designers, engineers and architects alike utilize naturally occurring patterns or shapes that call to mind nature and living organisms.  At the Fat Plant Society, we use nature itself as our design material.

There are a number of creatures and shapes that we, as humans are highly familiar with whether we are consciously aware of them or not.   From the Nautilus to the Fibonacci Sequence to the human body, we are inherently drawn to the forms and patterns of nature because not only are they natural, these bio designs make us feel better.

Golden Spiral and Reindeer Moss Photo Credit.Alexandra Rhoades Photography

We’re seeing the trend toward biophilic design in so many places from large corporations (Amazon has been in the news for their mini rain forest) to retail store design home interiors and public spaces like libraries and hospitals.

“Natural light is just one of the many biophilic elements that have positive effects for retailers. Greenery is fast becoming one of the hottest design trends, and it’s a perfect fit for retail. Studies show that greenery enhances the visual quality of a retail environment. This has many of the same effects that lighting does: increased perception of quality, higher levels of receptiveness to prices, and a more positive shopping experience in general.”


We have gone through these definitions because these are terms you are going to hear a great deal in the next few years (if you haven’t heard them already).

Butterfly by Oracle Kansas City complemented with parchment and Fat Plant Society Moss

Now that we have our terminology straight, let’s take a look at why biophilic design makes us happy and we even have data to back that up.  For that, we turn to again to Terramai who has produced a number of valuable papers on the connection between biophilia and happiness.  In their article, titled, “How Biophilic Design is Making Humans Happier,” Terramai cited the 2011 study from the Journal of Happiness Studies that cites psychological health and happiness is directly related to contact with nature.   The study finds, “changes in NR (nature relatedness aka nature in view) mediate the relationship between environmental education and changes in vitality.” This study builds on a previous study from the same journal that cemented the connection between biophilia and mental health.

So if you are feeling a little disconnected, a little frustrated and even angry, the data supports that surrounding yourself in nature can have significant benefits on your psychological well-being. If you don’t have time to take a forest bath every day (but if you can, please do, it is so incredibly good for you), introduce plants and other forms of greenery (such as zero maintenance moss designs) so as to bring the forest to you.  The bottom line is that we humans are hard-wired to need nature to feel good or feel “right” as it were…

This applies at home just as it applies to the workplace and frankly, anywhere from dark, windowless conference rooms to hospitals to hotels to restaurants.  As author Emma Loewe notes in her article for mbg Planet (mind-body-green planet)

“This year, research by the World Green Building Council’s supported biophilic design’s ability to improve outlook, finding that families who visited the Akron Children’s Hospital were 67 percent more satisfied with their experience in the space after it underwent a green sweep. Van Vliet and others at the conference agreed that data collection like this is crucial. She also thinks that more collaboration between architects and scientists—particularly neuroscientists—is essential for spaces that promote well-being.”

Emma Loewe/mbg planet

Ms. Loewe notes that we human beings are complex–our senses go far beyond sight, sound, taste, and smell.  In fact, we have 30 senses and how we design the spaces we inhabit has great bearing on all of our 30 senses.  Loewe notes, that we actually consciously register/perceive much more than we know including, senses “like echolocation (how we perceive where we are in space related to the sounds around us) and thermoception (how we perceive the temperature of objects).”

Moss Wall at HogsheadKC on the Country Club Plaza in Kansas City. It has been over one year since we installed and the moss is as fresh and lush as it was the day we installed it.

We know some artists who are actually examining that very concept and working to interpret what happens to we humans in both positive and negative environments.

The United States Green Building Council is on board with the concept of biophilic design for human wellness and well-being too.  They are offering sessions on how biophilic design affects the human brain and human well-being and productivity. They also address the economic impact of these human behaviors is presented, and the value of moss walls as a specific biophilic design solution. We’re using their words here not, ours, the USGBC states, “Compared to some other biophilic design solutions, moss walls are affordable, require no light and no irrigation.”

We love it when we’re understood.  We all do.

Biomimicry Frontiers Founder, Jamie Miller with The Fat Plant Society Founder, Morten Klinte

So if you are questioning the importance of the role that nature can play in your well-being, you need ask no more.  The studies and research confirming the value of biophilic design will continue and at The Fat Plant Society, we’ll keep building green walls and developing more, unique ways to bring real nature into the spaces in which we live and work.

As Always, Yours in the Love of All Things Green,

Kasey and Morten

The Fat Plant Society 

*announcer voice speaking rapidly*

“By virtue of reading this post, you are now a member of The Fat Plant Society.  Your dues have already been paid.” 

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