Biophilia and Biomimicry: My take on nature after a visit to the NY Botanical Garden

Posted on March 2, 2011


A lot of us find inspiration in nature and I’m no different. I like nature; it calms me, perks me up and inspires me. I’m not always surrounded by it, but when I am, I’m happy. I bet this goes for a lot of you out there. There has been a lot of talk in the past few years about how human beings innately seek nature, always; and that being surrounded by it increases our productivity and enhances our health. This may only seem like common sense to a few of us but this has led to a new field of study called Biophilic design ( lit. love of life). Researchers are able to quantify the effects of having access to nature – be it a view to the outside (from your cubicle/office) or bringing in the outdoors (in the form of plants, landscapes, living walls etc.) on human beings. This reiterates the point that man is tied to nature and is happiest and healthiest when surrounded by it.

Another recently popular field of study is Biomimicry. As the name suggests, it is a process of mimicking nature. Applied to design, it presents endless possibilities of creative solutions that have been tried and tested by nature. If biophilic design aims at connecting humans to nature, biomimicry aims at translating nature’s design solutions to our problems.

I recently made a trip to the New York Botanical Garden. This trip fulfilled both my longing to be surrounded by nature and exposed me to a myriad of design ideas. Considering New York is still bang in the middle of winter, I was very very happy to get out of the cold (read: -10C/14F) and enter a warm and humid (read: 21C/70F) tropical greenhouse.  The exhibit was a display of Caribbean trees and plants, and all it took for me to trek all the way to Bronx on a chilly day was a brochure with a color photo of a flower on it.

Not sure if this happens to anyone else out there, but when I’m surrounded by beautiful design, my mind goes for a toss. I lose it, literally, and this trip was no exception. I was jumping up and down in excitement, swooning over little leaves and flowers and taking loads of photographs. I let my imagination go wild and this somehow lead to a little game that my husband and I played called ‘what (else) can you see?’ . We had a lot of fun with this game so I wanted to post a few of my favorite photos from this trip and play the game with you.. Are you ready???

P.S: All photos were taken with an IPhone camera (Did I tell you I lost my camera???!! 😦 ) To see all the photos I took on this trip, check out the Flickr photo stream to the right >>>

Hanging Skyscrapers

One of my most favorite plants. For the curious, it is called Ceratostema Rauhii, Ericaceae, Peru.

What I see: Each of the leaf is a unit with a central service core. Private activities in the overlapping areas. Water that trickles over each ‘unit’ is collected and used for service and domestic purposes.

What else: ready made leaf garlands 😉

Satellite docking station

What I see:  Round satellites, disc shaped docking stations, elongated service core and white antennas

Wild Beauty

What I see:   Such beautiful color palette. Almost seems surreal an out of this world! I don’t think i want /can see it as anything more right now… to awed by it 🙂

The Wise One

What I see: An aged and wise Star Wars character. Beautiful, beautiful grayish-blue. Would love to make a dress inspired by this color and texture palette.

Predator’s Hair

What I see: Same as the title; Also see it being a prototype for a optic cables or fuel lines….

Large Scale: A city within a city

Small Scale: Cruise ship decks

What I see: First I saw a huge city; each petal is a city and all the petals combine to make a mega city. Imagine the ‘cup’ of the petal filled with layers and layers of floors and the underside covered with little windows…

What else: Cruise ship decks with flight landing on top of each petal..


What (else) do you see??

Post a comment and tell me