E.O. Wilson and the Biophilia Hypothesis

In our last entry we discussed the idea of “biophilic design” – design that consciously implements natural elements in otherwise man-made environments. Today, we’ll take a moment to pay tribute to the man we have to thank for the idea of biophilic design, Edward O. Wilson.

Prior to developing his famous biophilia hypothesis, Wilson spent three decades as a member of the faculty at Harvard University where his chief interest was the study of ants, or myrmecology. His love of the outdoors, and insects in particular, was fostered from a young age. After losing his stereoscopic vision in a childhood fishing accident, he became enamored with the anatomy of tiny insects that he was still able to see in great detail up-close.

He collected insects extensively, and spent much of his childhood, and later his career, establishing taxonomical scheme for the specimens he found in the wild. Then, in 1984 he published a book called Biophilia that would popularize a far-reaching theory about the way humans are influenced and affected by natural elements in their environment.

Wilson’s biophilia hypothesis suggested that there is an inborn, evolutionary bond between human beings and other living organisms. Likewise, when humans are near other living things they tend to feel better, and more at ease. In his book, Wilson succinctly describes biophilia as “the urge to affiliate with other forms of life.”

Wilson then deduced from this hypothesis that humans could live measurably better lives by intentionally surrounding themselves with other living things. Thus the idea of biophilic design was born. Today, Wilson is retired from teaching but he continues to publish books and pursue his passions as a naturalist.

Here at Foliage Design Systems, we put Wilson’s theory to work every day by infusing the workspaces in our area with vibrant plant life. Want to learn more about the work we do? Take a look around our photo gallery to view our portfolio, or give us a call today at (561) 784 – 5040 for more information.