A Study of Furniture Design Incorporating Living Organisms with Particular Reference to Biophilic and Emotional Design Criteria

Nurul ‘Ayn Ahmad Sayuti, Carlos MONTANA HOYOS, Elivio Bonollo

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    This paper reports on the first (theoretical) stage of a two-part investigation of selected aspects of biophilia theory as applied in the design of furniture, and with particular reference to design criteria that designers may use, including emotional criteria. The second (empirical) part of this investigation will report on the results of surveys based on the findings of the first stage and, while some empirical findings will be previewed in this paper, the main findings will be published in a separate paper. The aims of this paper are twofold: firstly, to investigate the wide-ranging typology of published furniture designs incorporating living organisms (often with few logical explanations apart from anecdotal or implied axiomatic benefits) and, secondly, to identify the criteria designers and users may employ to make design-and-use decisions about such furniture with particular reference to biophilic and emotional design criteria. Biophilia theory proposes that humans have an instinctive and innate need to connect with nature. In general, biophilic design uses biophilic principles in the design process. Interestingly, a review of the literature has found that, although biophilic design has been widely reported in architecture and environmental design circles, few studies address the logical application of these principles in the context of furniture design. Following a critical literature review, this paper proposes a novel typology of furniture designs that incorporate living organisms (such as plants, animals and insects). This typology is based on at least 168 furniture designs classified into 4 main categories and 24 sub-categories. The underlying purpose being to provide a framework from which useful furniture design criteria may be inferred subject to empirical testing. For brevity, a synopsis of this typology is presented in the main body of the paper with the details given in the appendix along with source credits. This is followed by proposing a model of evaluation criteria, a metric which may be used to inform the design of furniture from a user and designer perspective. The paper also presents a brief preview of how these models have been applied in the empirical part of this investigation, along with a summary of findings and conclusions.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)75-106
    Number of pages32
    JournalAcademic Journal of Science
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2015


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