Biophilia is a term increasingly more common in the design fraternity: But what exactly does the term refer to and how could it be relevant to lighting ? In this article I will explore how Biophilia can be incorporated in indoor lighting.
Biophilia is a concept that suggests that our physical and mental well-being is closely tied to our connection with nature. This concept was popularized by biologist Edward O. Wilson in his book "Biophilia" published in 1984.
Indoor lighting plays a significant role in the context of biophilia because it can either enhance or hinder our connection with the natural world.
As John Cooke from Wakanine in Austin, USA comments:
“ in our view, biophilia is examining processes in nature & replicating them in the "human" world. Biophilia has been extended into interior design as a term however we feel that what is happening in product design is closer to "biomimicry" as designers are stylising nature & incorporating this into product design / aesthetics. Biomimicry can be extended in terms of broader use of nature through sustainable materials, raw/untreated materials, non-toxic/safe ingredients ¨
The most obvious use of Biophilia in modern lighting is through natural light. Sunlight is considered the most biophilic form of lighting. It provides the full spectrum of colors throughout the day, mimicking the natural environment. Exposure to natural light indoors has been linked to improved mood, productivity, and overall well-being.
Additionally Proper indoor lighting design takes into account the human circadian rhythms, which are our natural internal clocks that regulate sleep-wake cycles. Lighting that mimics the changing intensity and color temperature of natural light throughout the day can help regulate these rhythms and promote better sleep and overall health.
The correct positioning of lighting in the sleeping areas for example combined with correct temperature control is an imperative to enable the body to adapt to its natural rhythms and its preparation for deep sleep. Care should be taken when choosing lighting for sleep areas.
John Cooke suggests Biophilic design in the interior may incorporate specific details such as:
- Shape of fixtures being stylized by nature.
- Accentuating shadows or patterns that are natural fractals or ¨nature¨ shapes.
- Incorporating natural materials that are "true" i.e. raw, unfinished, etc
- Utilizing technology such as controllable illumination re: color temperature dimming,
Biophilic design principles also encourage the incorporation of natural elements into indoor spaces. Lighting can be used to highlight natural materials, such as wood and stone, or to create dynamic lighting conditions that mimic the outdoors. This helps create a more soothing and visually appealing indoor environment.
Additionally many indoor environments include plants, which are a direct connection to nature. Proper lighting is crucial for the health of indoor plants. It's not only about providing enough light for photosynthesis but also about creating a visually pleasing atmosphere with natural light patterns and colors.
Exposure to natural light and views of nature either physically enabling the interaction between the exterior or through windows or skylights can have a positive impact on people's mental and physical well-being. It can reduce stress, improve mood, and increase cognitive performance. Lighting design that takes these factors into account contributes to biophilic experiences indoors.
Incorporating Biophilic design principles can help create indoor spaces that foster a deeper connection with the natural world and promote better health and productivity.