Biophilic design is a rapidly growing field that incorporates elements of nature into human-built environments for the benefit of our health and well-being. To explore this fascinating topic further, we recently had the pleasure of speaking with Johan Behrin:designer & founder of Green Furniture Concept. In this interview, we discuss the beginnings of biophilic design area benefits, challenges, and latest trends in biophilic design.
Adina: I think it would be very interesting, besides what we already know to tell us the story, the beginning of Green Furniture Concept, how this idea came to you from more of a personal and professional background.
Johan: Absolutely. I designed a chair. This is like a little bit more than 15 years ago. And I showed it at the Copenhagen Furniture Fair, and it was picked up by a french distributor and launched in Paris, just like that. And my intention was to find a producer. That's why I exhibit this as a designer, not as a producer. But, there was such sudden demand that I started manufacturing it with a local factory and that was very successful and it became a smash hit.. But I was shocked by how smelly the manufacturing was, even though here under Swedish regulations, which I thought were great, but it was smelly and I decided to do green, I decided to show the world that you could do something really sustainable and good looking and functional. And so that became the purpose of Green Furniture. So ten years ago.
Adina: You really had the vision.
Johan: Yeah. That was lovely, really. And at the time the Leaf Lamp was for private use for your living room, and we as Green Furniture didn't have a specific place to furnish, so we didn't have a specific direction or concept in terms of place. So that came only a couple of years later and where we found the blue ocean of the public interior. And so that came basically with the Stockholm Central Station. I got the opportunity to use sort of what had come from the chair. I also used the chair even more. I converted this as sustainable as possible with the possibilities there. I changed the seats, removed the lacquer. The varnish was the biggest problem environmentally, so I started to use wax instead. I started to source the wood and the glue in a better way and really environmentally conscious as much as that was possible. And I sliced that chair up, pulled it out like an accordion, and it became a bench. And like that I had a first little installation. It became a modular setup of seating and did a couple of shopping malls in Stockholm. And the shopping mall owner of one of them became the leader of Stockholm, Stockholm Central Station. So he brought that with him. But he also said, Hey, fix the clean-ability of that thing because it wasn't really made for public interior and public wear, use, maintenance and cleaning. So I got the possibility of doing something for the main room of Stockholm Central Station. So we designed it for that and that became the novelty bench that you now just installed in Cluj-napoca.
Adina: Is there any difference between the Biophilic design and sustainable design? Because as the first time you are hearing they can be pretty similar.
Johan: Yeah, absolutely. So biophilic is the architectural term. So that's a design term: that's how it looks. While sustainable and circular, that is how it's made. If you do something, if you have a good biophilic design, it will communicate sustainability. You will tell by the looks, materials and touch. People will feel that it's sustainable. It doesn't have to be sustainable though, but you can also then make it sustainable, which we do obviously make it circular. So starting from there. Circularity comes because I think circularity is the main way of doing something sustainable. So circularity, keeping things in a loop and using so nature has its own loop, right? So natural materials will be part of a natural loop and you can borrow it from there, use it as long as possible. And with a minimum of resources and with renewable energy and all that. And then eventually we'll go back to nature. So that's the natural loop and then the technical loop in, in a cradle to cradle or circular approach. A technical loop is recycled materials that can be recycled again. And here there is usually a misuse of that term because people in the industry will tend to say, it's recyclable and basically anything is recyclable. The biophilic design talks sustainable. And I think that's a reason why I like it. Also, it feels good. It feels like somebody has done something sustainable and real for them. And I think that's appreciated.
Adina: How do you think that the design can improve our health and wellbeing?
Johan: Absolutely, there are lots of studies on greenery. So greenery in office environments especially, improves our ability to concentrate. And so that's that: greenery is biophilia, greenery is biophilic design. And it doesn't have a function like you can't sit on it or you can't sort of use it in that sense. What we have done is make usable furniture that is designed like nature and gives the same kind of effect and feeling. It is a lot about natural materials and the variation that you would have in a piece of wood in the veins of the structure of the wood and, and how they are all different. So it makes it interesting, even if we may not perceive that as human beings, but it's there and our brain gets that and the variations makes it interesting. Also with a little bit bigger scale variation of color, a variation of shape. Nature is not monochrome, nature is not parallel, nature is not straight lined, but nature is meandering and we love touching and the softness of well-designed wood. So everybody that gets the chance of touching a nice piece of furniture will caress it. And that's something that goes deeply.
Adina: I read a lot of articles and lots of information on your website before we talked, but I feel like you still have a lot of new and exciting information for us. So this is just a preview of what we are going to talk about face to face when you come over. Thank you for your time. It was nice to “meet” you and to talk with you. I'm sure that our audience will be excited to read a part of our conversation from today.
We hope you found our interview informative and inspiring. By incorporating nature into our indoor spaces, we can create environments that promote relaxation, productivity, and overall well-being.
If you're interested in exploring biophilic design further, be sure to check out our website for more information about our upcoming events specially the on on jJune 15th The Green Connection: Exploring Biophilic Design
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