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January 2023 – When Life Imitates Art? No, When Design Imitates Nature

Updated: May 30, 2023


There’s an old saying, “When life imitates art” which expresses the notion that an event in the real world was inspired by a creative work. This has inspired Bella Home Interiors to investigate an opposite idea of that, “When Design Imitates Nature”. This carries a similar notion but turns it on an axis and instead of the art creating the real world, the real world is creating the design. Nature is an amazing and intricate thing and has provided the foundations of how we function in our day to day lives. Sometimes these blueprints are obvious but sometimes they are subtle with an impressive impact. We’re ready to dig into just how “Design Imitates Nature”!

There’s the easy ones to spot… the wallpapers, paintings, light fixtures, color palettes, etc. The simple ways we show nature in our homes and spaces. The clear cut replication of very specific natural elements that we incorporate. But what about the less evident ones? The ways we build, the materials used and the replication of functions that provide us with a better quality of life.

One way we do this is through biomimicry.

Biomimicry is the design and production of materials, structures, and systems that are modeled on biological entities and processes. Examples of biomimicry include:

There are three types of biomimicry as provided by the Biomimicry Institute:

  • One is copying form and shape

  • Another is copying a process, like photosynthesis in a leaf

  • The third is mimicking at an ecosystem level - like building a nature-inspired city.

When it comes to building materials, we have the very apparent use of trees for wood. Most nails are made of steel, which is made from iron ore, a compound of iron, oxygen and other minerals that occur in nature. When corrosion can occur, nails can also be made from aluminum, brass, nickel, bronze and copper all which are naturally occurring metals produced by nature. Clay can be used as an excellent option for maintaining comfortable temperatures inside the home without much use from heating or cooling systems. Straw is an insulator and sand can create glass and concrete. Natural stones and marble adorn our countertops and walkways, while wool provides the beautiful rugs we use to bring color and comfort to our homes. It’s something that logically we all know in the back of our minds, that our house, office, favorite restaurant is built with materials provided by the earth. But how often do we really stop to think about the origination of that wall, or floor or every nail holding the structure together? When we remember where all those parts started from, we realize that while we’re technically “inside” of a house or building, we’re actually just surrounded by the elements of nature used to design and build with.

Most importantly, designing our spaces to promote sustainable efforts is imperative. Nature provides us with all we need, the layouts and the materials. But how much of that are we cycling back? Sustainable design methods have become a regular part of our world today and later this year, Bella Home Interiors will give you the ins and outs of designing your home sustainably while still being stylish!

In the meantime, take a minute to look around your living room, scope out your kitchen, pay attention to each doorway and the various flooring throughout the house. Consider what elements in your home mimic nature, where the materials that hold your home together came from. Observe how you use your spaces and how an animal outside uses theirs. Find the similarities, identify how every little bit of the outside works its way inside, and appreciate just very much how Design Imitates Nature.

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