There a number of ways of incorporating nature into your home.
Often, we look around us and are awed by the sheer wonder of nature. We try to mimic these wonders in many of the ways we use light, color, art, and design. In our search to better serve nature, new technologies have come about. At the base of some of these technologies is a science called biomimicry. This science has been applied in fields of engineering and architecture. This article explores how it can be applied in decorating and design within a home.
What, first of all, is biomimicry? Biomimicry (from bios, meaning life, and mimesis, meaning to imitate) is a relatively new science that studies nature, its models, systems, processes, and elements, imitating or taking creative inspiration from them to solve human problems sustainably. In her 1997 book, “Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Nature,” author Janine M. Benyus writes, “Our planet-mates have been patiently perfecting their wares for more than 3.8 billion years ... turning rock and sea into a life-friendly home. What better models could there be?”
According to Benyus, there are at least 9 ways we can mimic nature to benefit ourselves and our environment. Let’s check out how some of these methods can be used in the design of our home environment:
Light: Nature runs on sunlight. Studies show that you think more clearly and are healthier when you are in sync with natural light cycles. To mimic leaves and flowers, follow the sun’s movements. A south-facing window will warm a room in winter. In the summer, position your shades to shut out the hot sun. If your room is dim, installing a skylight or using daylighting tubes will help to bring in this life force of nature.
Energy: Here too, the sun becomes our force to follow. Solar energy from solar panels will provide your home with needed electricity or hot water. You can save on energy by relying on this natural light source whenever possible. For more information, visit our Solar Blog.
Function: Successful organisms make the most of their environment, adapting their shapes and function to the ecosystem in which they live. When choosing home furnishings, select pieces based on function and shape. Chairs with upright backs are useful for dining and overstuffed chairs are for relaxing and comfort. Keep the function of the piece in mind when making your selections and consider double use for some pieces to make them more adaptable to the space you have placed them. Drawers for storage in a coffee table are one example.
Cooperation: Species that endure over time in nature are in harmony with their environment and with each other. Apply this to your home space in the way of your furnishings so that the pieces are dependent on one another visually. Mix your patterns, textures, shapes, sizes, and colors to create a work of visual order. Distribute your furniture in such a way that there is balance in function and style, with a focal point at the center.
Diversity: There is great value for beauty in nature. Showy petals on flowers, bright colors, tantalizing scents, and sweet nectar are all necessary for pollination and survival of a plant. Use objects that reflect your appreciation for beauty and passions: music, art, and family. Frame and display the things that are valuable to you. Place them in groupings or as center pieces, always remembering to stay in balance.
Recycle: Nature always makes good use of materials, oftentimes recycling its very structures two or three times. For example, a hermit crab uses a shell for a home, outgrows it, and moves on to another shell; but that shell will not be wasted, it will be used again. The new shell, too, was a castoff from another animal, reclaimed. In your home, an old chest used for storage can become a coffee table, a sheet or lace tablecloth becomes a curtain, and the old wood from your last remodel project becomes a new table. The seasons remind us of nature’s cycles. Bring the outside in with seashells in pretty containers, autumn leaves in crystal bowls, or gorgeous blooms in hand painted vases.
Curb Excess: Nature is resilient and efficient. Perennials put down strong roots that will survive through the toughest winter. By doing so, they return summer after summer. Longevity is the reward for learning to do more with less. Everything you put in your room design should be long lived. When you are finished using it, reuse or donate.
Power of Limits: Nature stays within the limits of its environment. It is the perfected systems of the natural world supporting life, nourishing and reusing every resource, perpetuating each cycle. When we mimic nature in our home design, we create a healthy, eco-friendly environment that will reduce waste, soothe, and energize.
Demand Local Expertise: Nature always calls on nature for help. Call on your local experts for any needs you may have and put the use science of biomimicry into your nature-inspired design.
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