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Nurturing Nature: The Interesting World of Biophilic Design

Nurturing Nature: The Interesting World of Biophilic Design

Have you ever entered a room and somehow felt instantly soothed? Are there certain spaces that just make you feel calmer and more at ease? If so, the chances are pretty good that the space integrates aspects of biophilic design. 

Even if the term is new to you, the concept probably isn’t. Biophilic design refers simply to the practice of incorporating natural elements or influences into a built environment. This typically involves the inclusion of natural materials, such as plants, stone, wood, sand, or water features. It can also go far beyond that to the intentional use of shapes, colors, textures, sounds, and scents derived from or inspired by nature to create spaces that are comfortable, inviting, and even healing to the mind, body, and spirit (1-3). This article explores the fascinating world of biophilic design and describes strategies you can use to integrate it into your next personal or professional project.

Unleashing Nature’s Benefits

When you consider the fundamental principles that underlie biophilic design, it’s not difficult to understand why it works. We humans aren’t just the product of our modern technological world. We’re also the result of the outcome of thousands of years of living with, through, and because of the natural world. 

We have learned to engage with and adapt to nature. For centuries, human health, happiness, and survival have depended on the capacity to do just that. Is it little wonder, then, that humans would exhibit a direct and decided physiological and psychological response to sensory stimuli that echo those found in the natural world? 

This is a reality that has been known and embraced by traditional cultures across the globe, from the earth houses of the indigenous peoples of Burkina Faso to the ancient art of feng shui. Native peoples have, both by necessity and by choice, long been constructing their environments in harmony with nature.

Today’s science is increasingly proving what the ancients already knew: that when you surround yourself with elements and echoes of nature, your physical, mental, and spiritual well-being are enhanced (1, 3). For example, research suggests that biophilic design in the workplace can improve worker productivity, performance, collaboration, and overall sense of workplace satisfaction (2). Other studies indicate that biophilic design can improve an individual’s sense of interconnectedness not only with the natural world but also with other persons–and within themselves (2, 4).

Perhaps the most intriguing and impactful evidence of the power of biophilic design lies in the growing body of research on its health benefits. Studies have shown, for example, that nature sounds can reduce stress and support healing in hospitalized patients and can even improve function and overall quality of life in persons with mental illness. There is even evidence to suggest that exposure to forest sounds yields specific neurochemical and physiological responses in the brains of persons experiencing addiction, potentially reducing their risk of relapse (5).

Integrating Biophilic Design

As suggested above, biophilic design isn’t just about adding a houseplant or two to your office, classroom, and clinic in order to make the space a bit more appealing. Rather, biophilic design involves a purposeful strategy of incorporating natural elements and influences in ways that appeal to all the senses–hearing, sight, taste, smell, and feel–and, in so doing, echo the mind and body experience of being outside and enveloped in nature. 

The effect of this coordinated appeal to the senses is greater than the sum of its parts because the senses are not discrete systems or mechanisms of perception. They’re profoundly and inextricably interconnected, shaping, amplifying, and reinforcing one another. 

Color My World

That interconnectedness of the senses, almost a kind of synesthesia, can provide a significant advantage for informed architects, engineers, and designers seeking to create inviting, functional, and healing spaces for future occupants. For instance, research suggests that interior colors can significantly impact the perception of sound

Thus, when you’re endeavoring to create an ideal sound environment for your space, incorporating earth tones and, in particular, the blues and greens of water and sky can enhance the effect. This is one reason that we offer FSorb in a variety of custom colors, including an endless array of hues designed by Mother Nature herself.

Shape and Sensation

In addition to the profound impact of nature-inspired colors, shapes and textures also play a significant role in biophilic design. Curved and wavy lines, circular and elliptical shapes are all prevalent in nature and, consequently, in biophilic design. Highly tactile surfaces and semi-rough textures, too, feature prominently in nature, from the tickling touch of leaves and grasses to the mild abrasiveness of sand. 

FSorb’s acoustic solutions also frequently mirror the patterns and textures of nature. Undulating and irregular surfaces, prominent in biophilic design, are also essential in sound mitigation due to their capacity to break up and diffuse sound waves. Rough, porous, or otherwise highly textured surfaces, a characteristic of natural objects, are also a staple in acoustic design due to their soundwave-absorbing properties.

Bringing the Outside In

With the above principles in mind, there are a few key strategies designers, architects, and engineers can use to capitalize on the power of biophilic design:

  • Pay attention to color: Prioritize hues found in nature, particularly blues, greens, terracotta, and other earth tones.

  • Avoid hard, uniform, and angular shapes: Nature seems to prefer curves, waves, circles, and ellipses over right angles and sharp edges.

  • Think texture: Smooth, hard surfaces occur in nature, of course, but what you’ll find most often are highly tactile surfaces that implore you to touch and feel them, such as the sawteeth of a fern or the rough bark of a tree.

  • Capitalize on the interconnectedness of the senses: Because our five senses are linked, automatically complementing and enhancing one another, your best bet is to appeal to all of the senses when you design with nature in mind.

  • Remember the soundscape: Nature sounds, as we’ve seen, have enormous benefits for the mind, body, and spirit. That means that no biophilic design plan will be complete without designing an optimal soundscape that incorporates the cry of the wind, the murmur of water, the rustling of leaves, or the singing of birds.

How FSorb Can Help

For decades, FSorb has been proud to lead the industry in acoustic design. FSorb’s history of innovation has benefited hospitals, schools, offices, homes, and public spaces the world over. Our vast array of customizable solutions, with their immense variety of shapes, colors, and textures, enables us to offer everything you need to bring your biophilic design ambitions to fruition. 

Contact your local FSorb representative today to explore how our unique, best-in-class products can bring your biophilic vision to life!



At FSorb, we are motivated by improving human health and do so by creating eco-friendly acoustic products. Our mission is to help designers build beautiful spaces that reduce excess ambient noise while calming the human nervous system. With over 25 years in the acoustic business we stand behind FSorb as a durable, environmentally friendly, and low-cost product. If you want an acoustic solution that is safe to human health at an affordable price, then we are your resource.

(844) 313-7672



  1. Tekin BH, Urbano Gutiérrez R. Human-centred health-care environments: a new framework for biophilic design. Front Med Technol. 2023 Jul 25;5:1219897. doi: 10.3389/fmedt.2023.1219897. PMID: 37560462; PMCID: PMC10408300.

  2. Gray T, Birrell C. Are biophilic-designed site office buildings linked to health benefits and high performing occupants? Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2014 Nov 26;11(12):12204-22. doi: 10.3390/ijerph111212204. PMID: 25431874; PMCID: PMC4276610.

  3. Huntsman DD, Bulaj G. Healthy Dwelling: Design of Biophilic Interior Environments Fostering Self-Care Practices for People Living with Migraines, Chronic Pain, and Depression. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2022 Feb 16;19(4):2248. doi: 10.3390/ijerph19042248. PMID: 35206441; PMCID: PMC8871637.   

  4. Alves S, Betrabet Gulwadi G, Nilsson P. An Exploration of How Biophilic Attributes on Campuses Might Support Student Connectedness to Nature, Others, and Self. Front Psychol. 2022 Apr 13;12:793175. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2021.793175. PMID: 35498153; PMCID: PMC9043241.

  5. Ochiai, H. et al.2020. “Relaxing Effect Induced by Forest Sound in Patients with Gambling Disorder.” Sustainability 2020, 12 (15).


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