Reconnecting with nature through biophilic design

Project: Seat Mergo |

Project: Seat Mergo

Reconnecting with nature through biophilic design

Interface, a global modular commercial flooring company and a leader in sustainability, has invited students from IED Barcelona’s Undergraduate Degrees in Interior Design and Product Design to think about the challenge Nature Beyond Design, in an aim to explore new concepts of spaces, services and products capable of reconnecting humans with nature and providing a positive impact on individuals and society.

The proposals investigate present and future scenarios from a creative, innovative and sustainable perspective, and are materialised in the recovery and redefinition of natural environments in the city of Barcelona, the conception of spaces for socialising, the creation of new materials and the generation of virtual experiences.

Within the framework of this collaboration, focused on final year projects, the approaches, although extremely diverse, have the common denominator of applying principles of biophilic design; one of Interface’s key lines of action in its commitment to the creation of ‘positive spaces’ by applying human-centred design. 

For the company, in the words of its Concept Designer, Odile Beranger, “choosing a theme as beautiful as “Nature Beyond Design” while going through such an unusual period allows us to reconsider the beneficial power that nature has on our well-being and health, and how our bond with it makes us “alive” when we respect it. It is a great opportunity for students to explore new connections and meeting points between nature and human-centred design,” she adds.

Design School Managing Director, Raffaella Perrone, also highlights that “we are living in a very stimulating moment for design professionals and students, since the Fourth Industrial Revolution has accelerated processes of production, usability and consumption, plunging a model that is not sustainable in the long term into crisis”.

In her opinion, nature “is a source of inspiration, the origin of things, simple material, an environment in which to live and from which we can improve. It’s about us integrating with it and not imposing upon it”.

How does a certain space make us feel? How can this affinity with the natural environment be fostered by the interior or product disciplines? Organic forms, ventilation and illumination, vegetation, the selection of natural materials and the generation of experiences are some of the aspects contemplated in the final projects of the students from IED Barcelona.

Project Descriptions

‘Frequenza’ from Valentina Maria Grazia Loffa. Student of the Undergraduate Degree in Design, specialisation in Interior Design.

Frequenza proposes to bring the natural world closer to the citizens of Barcelona through a space conceived as a plant clinic as well as an educational workshop. With the intention of recovering the historic greenhouse in Ciutadella Park, the design contemplates a smart façade that would transform the area’s high levels of noise pollution into frequencies between 10 and 100 hertz. These frequencies would be responsible for healing the plants that citizens bring to the centre.

In addition to this use, the student has designed another space dedicated to a workshop where the vegetable world can be studied in greater depth, and a bar located in the entrance area to savour different waters from across the planet.

‘Unrooted Communities’
from Tahani Barada. Student of the Undergraduate Degree in Design, specialisation in Interior Design.

Unrooted Communities is conceived as a meeting place to recover the feeling of community and a return to our roots through the art of food, its cultivation and preparation, in an environment that fosters exchange.

Its circular construction is crowned by a roof that alludes to the idea of protection, in spite of the absence of walls, and combines modernity with primitivism. The proposed design includes a central garden and cultivation space, around which a large fire is situated, in order to cook food and reinforce the sense of belonging and warmth.

With a main structure made of clay and terracotta and a roof of bamboo and straw, all the materials used in its construction are natural. In addition, it is supplied with solar energy and rainwater.

‘Déjà Vu’
from Mariana Ramírez. Student of the Undergraduate Degree in Design, specialisation in Interior Design.

Using an in-depth analysis of the current situation and possible future scenarios as a starting point, Déjà vu is conceived as a multi-sensory experience of shared virtual reality, bringing us closer to natural landscapes from different parts of the planet.

Playing with time and space, the project demonstrates the potential of humanised technology by generating connections with the natural environment, as well as among people. It appeals to the senses by recreating spaces focused on nature from countries such as Colombia, Iceland and Japan. The aim is to promote mental disconnection and a sense of belonging using a didactic and playful approach.

‘Transgea’ from Anna Valdeolivas. Student of the Undergraduate Degree in Design, specialisation in Product Design. 

The project explores the study of the earth element as a union between nature and design in order to propose a new type of flooring that mixes sustainable materials. It is conceived as an alternative to artificial indoor paving.

The result of this research is Transgea – a name that combines the terms transformation and Pangaea – a tile made from sand and natural rubber to create mutant spaces, volumes and furniture. With the focus on a more sustainable future, Transgea adapts according to its geolocation, and its modular nature offers infinite possibilities.