You might not be too familiar with the term, but biophilic design is at the heart of living well and being inspired by the natural world, and it has been part of the Wendy Morrison Design ethos since our earliest days.
The word biophilia originates from the Greek ‘bio’ meaning ‘life’ and ‘philia’ meaning ‘love of’, so literally translates as ‘a love of life or living things’. Biophilic design is based on the human need for a connection with nature, to create environments that are restful, restorative and beneficial for our wellbeing.
From the early 1980s, biophilic design has played an increasingly important role as our understanding of the benefits of having a connection with the natural world grows. Studies have shown that spaces with a good visual connection to nature can be calming, and improve wellbeing and productivity. It’s a relationship that has always been important to Wendy and is at the heart of many of her rug designs.
‘It feels instinctive to me to be inspired by the natural world. Flora and fauna feel like the obvious choice for inspiration, full of colour, pattern and texture. There really is so much to learn from Mother Earth and her fabulous bounty – what more do we really need?’ she says.
‘Initially it was flowers and their colours that inspired me,’ Wendy explains. ‘I started off with simpler designs, combining two or three elements and, as my confidence as a rug designer grew, I experimented, adding extra motifs, including birds and animals, trees, mountains, waves, water, the sun and moon. The designs may have become more intricate and complex, but their inspiration still comes from the natural world around me.
Decorating with images of nature can help to create a more calming home, a place to recharge and revive,’ Wendy suggests. ‘Surrounding ourselves with the beauty of the natural world and feeling a connection to it, can make us feel happier and more positive, as well as creating a more beautiful space to live in.’
One of Wendy’s earliest biophilic designs is the Magnolia, a bold, hand-tufted rug featuring branches full of white magnolias which spring to life against a golden backdrop. Not only lovely to look at but, in Oriental culture, these flowers are symbols of nobility, perseverance, dignity and a love of nature.
Floral inspiration also features in the gorgeous Flowers of Virtue in Opal, which makes you feel as if you are stepping into a field of beautiful everlasting blooms. Uplifting and telling a wonderful story, the four flowers portrayed, plum blossom, chrysanthemum, orchid and bamboo – known as the ‘Four Gentlemen’ in Chinese culture, symbolising uprightness, purity, humility and perseverance – add a glorious connection to the natural world.
Flowers are held in high regard in Chinese culture and are believed to convey positive messages. It was the combination of plum blossom, orchid, bamboo and chrysanthemum, which are all linked to positive human values and in ancient China were named the ‘Flowers of Virtue’, which inspired the design of Chinese Garden of Virtue.
Eternal Toile is a wonderful example of how Wendy’s inspiration from nature has developed. This beautiful design tells the story of enjoying a long and healthy life, in harmony with nature, which is a key element of Oriental culture. You can read about the design inspiration and the meaning behind the symbols used in our previous journal post, Storytelling is at the Heart of Eternal Toile.
Our hand-tufted Eternity is full of natural world symbols that represent a long and happy life, including a pair of soaring cranes, outlined in gold, which represent happiness, good fortune and longevity. Mountains, waves and clouds combine with flora to paint a vivid picture telling the uplifting story of eternal life.
Dreams of the Jungle was inspired by Wendy’s family’s first trip to the Indian jungle and portrays a vivid picture of the country’s flora and fauna, including the Bengal tiger, peacocks, langur monkeys and Chital deer. It’s an atmospheric piece offering a window into an exotic, natural environment.
Sustainable design is always on the agenda here and we often have enquiries about the option of a plant-based rug. As a result, we have been creating a custom-made rug using Tencel, a sustainable material made from wood pulp sourced from sustainably grown forests. We have plans in place to work on a plant-based rug in the near future, so watch this space for future announcements!