help, i've lost nature
Post on 21-Feb-2016
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DESCRIPTIONIn an increasingly urbanised world our society is becoming more disjointed from nature. The term biophilia refers to human beings intrinsic love of nature. The biophilia effect refers to the exposure to imagery of nature having a positive influence on general wellbeing, while improving concentration resulting in reduced stress levels. This project explores creating a digital and tactile biophilia effect, designed to benefit stressed and distracted Wellington students living without easy access to the movement and surprises of nature.
your quick fix of biophilia
My name is Amelia Stewart, I am a 21 year
old graphic design student. My personal
experience of university has informed this
project. I grew up in rural Waikato so
moving to busy Wellington city was quite
an adjustment for me.
I have been living in various apartment
buildings for the last three and a half
years. Apartments are generally warmer,
cheaper and safer than living in a house in
Wellington. However apartments are a lot
more confined with no back yard, minimal
natural sunlight and often windows facing
into other apartments. Sure there are parks
and public areas for enjoying nature, but
sometimes thats just not practical if the
weathers miserable or Im swamped with
University students in Wellington are the
perfect target audience for this project as
most of them could do with increased
interaction with nature in their daily lives
since they live in such an urban area. The
halls of residence are all apartment blocks
in Wellington so most university students
initially move into apartment buildings here.
As a student myself I spend almost all of
my time working from home, since I have
everything I need there, which includes less
distractions. A lot of people I know work
better from home than at uni, so I wanted to
focus on creating something that students
could use in their home environment.
By designing a portable object this doesnt
restrict the use of the product to students
homes, it could be transported to use where
ever the student is working. It goes without
saying that students are often very stressed
and poor, so if there is a fun, cheap, easy
and practical way to reduce stress while
improving concentration in students, it is
going to be effective.
The following booklet is an explanation of
my design response to creating a nature fix
for young, university students.
DEFINING BIOPHILIAThe term biophilia describes to human beings
intrinsic love of nature, a concept popularised
by conservation biologist Dr. E. O. Wilson with
the release of his book in 1993; The Biophilia
Hypothesis. Wilson argues that regardless of
an individuals background, financial status or
culture beliefs human beings are all united by
our innate love of nature. This theory revolves
around the concept that biophilia is a product
of humans biological evolution and therefore
is genetically encoded into each and every
one of us. People often limit nature to things
like flowers or grass, overlooking the fact that
animals and the weather are also key natural
elements in our lives.
The United Nations (2004) estimates that for
the first time in human history the majority of the
worlds population live in urban areas, instead
of rural environments . Urbanisation is projected
to continue to increase, with it estimated that
70% of people will be living in urban areas by
the year 2050.
With the increase in people are living in
apartment buildings in densely populated areas
peoples access to nature has become more
restricted. Therefore our innate love of nature is
becoming lost in todays modern society.
THE IMPACT OF BIOPHILIAThe Biophilia Hypothesis essentially claims
that human beings are dependant on regular
interaction with nature to sustain a long and
healthy life (Wilson, 1993).
Another researcher, Kaplan, has scientifically
verified that office workers are less stressed if
they have a window view of nature and also
perform tasks better if they have a pot plant in
their office, compared to those workers that do
not (Heerwagen, 2010). Kaplan also argues
that by taking a short nature break a persons
attention span is replenished, therefore enabling
them to refocus easily after taking a break.
Increased interaction with nature, by taking
a nature break, has been proven to reduce
stress, while improving concentration and over
all well- being. The biophilia effect is the term
that refers to the exposure of nature having a
positive influence on the well- being of humans.
Interestingly enough images that depict nature
have been shown to have the same positive
influence on humans that real physical nature
does, even if its not quite the same experience.
In a world that is becoming increasingly
urbanised, retaining our bond with nature has
never been so important. The halls of residents
for university students in cities like Wellington
are all apartment buildings. This means that the
majority of students who begin university will
initially move into flats with limited access to
nature. Moving out of home to start university
is a big adjustment for most young people, let
alone the fact that their new home is a large,
densely populated city.
University students live unusual lifestyles;
they have restricted money so theyll cheaply
decorate their flats with photos or images
from magazines, theyll pull all nighters to get
assignments done and barely leave the flat
during a hand in or exam week. This project
explores creating a digital and tactile biophilia
effect designed to benefit distracted, stressed
out Wellington students living without easy
access to the movement and delight of nature.
FINDING NATURE IN A BOXThis is an unconventional book, that explores
the concept of creating a digitally produced
biophilia effect, acting as a easy nature break
for busy university students.
Our society has never been more reliant
on digital technology. We all depend on
technology for work, socializing and carrying
out daily chores. These digitised devices are
all recent, man made objects that we are very
accustomed to, whereas nature has been
around since the beginning of time and yet it
seems to be disappearing from our daily lives.
It was my communication objective to rekindle
peoples love of nature and consequently
offering escapism from their stressful, modern
Books have traditionally used as a form of
escapism. People today are now turning to TV
and virtual worlds, such as The Sims, to escape
from their daily lives. As children we were
encouraged to read books, spending hours
fantasising about the world of Harry Potter. By
the time you reach university though, reading
books has become part of a educational chore
and is often overlooked as a form of escapism.
By capturing a stylised version of nature in
a book format this offers the university students
a practical and an easy way to access nature.
If the weather is miserable or theyre having a
melt down at 3 am, the student can turn to this
book, hidden in their desk to give them a stress
relieving biophilia escape. The design of the
book set was purposely kept simple, which is a
contrast to their busy lifestyle.
THE DELIGHT OF NATUREBy using pop up construction the books are
brought to life as it captures the movement of
nature, therefore mimicking the delight and
surprise that nature brings into our lives. This is
a tangible way to interact with a representation
of nature through the tactile use of pop up.
Often it is not enough to just see nature, you
want to touch and interact with it too.
I wanted people to respond to my project
with a smile and I have found that the surprise
of the pop up design achieves this. You never
know what to expect with nature, for instance
that moment when youre smelling a sweet
rose and out pops a bee. This element of the
unknown has been translated into my design.
Having the pop up pages looking identical
from the outside adds an supplementary layer
of spontaneity to the design. Every time the
student looks at the books theyll open them in
a different, arbitrary order, therefore subverting
the monotonous quality of a typical book.
Abstracting images of nature in a digitised
form (through the process of scanning imagery
and laser cutting) gives my design a fresh twist
on real nature, which is appropriate for my
mediated target audience. Our modern society
is becoming increasingly over cluttered with
images and therefore people today pay more
attention to new or unusual images than
This project was originally inspired by the
beauty of real nature, the gorgeous colours and
textures that together create the allure of nature.
I have expressed the intangible essence of
nature through a more expressive graphic style
than photography. The illustration styled and
watercolour textures that portray nature visually
capture a dream- like quality that evokes
remembering personal memories associated
with these elements of nature. The abstract
textures were intended to not be realistic as