help, i've lost nature

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In 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.


  • about.


    your quick fix of biophilia

  • Hi there!

    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 work.

    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

    everyday lives.

    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

    familiar ones.

    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