Episode 69: Thomas Heatherwick on the Power of Biophilia

Published 17 November 2020


In this episode, Christian Ward is joined by designer Thomas Heatherwick and Stylus’s senior editor of Product Design Dewi Pinatih to discuss the power of biophilia – how nature can contribute to better workplaces, buildings and cities.

Date:Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Guests On this Episode

Thomas Heatherwick is a British designer and founder of Heatherwick Studios, which brings the practices of design, architecture and urban planning together in a single workspace. Heatherwick is behind recent acclaimed developments including London's Coal Drops Yard and is currently working on 30 projects in 10 countries, including Google headquarters in California and London.

Dewi Pinatih is Stylus’s senior editor of Product Design.

Episode Discussion Points

  • What is biophilia? [1:16]
  • Designing more human-centric environments [2:05]
  • Why it's important to accept imperfection [7:17]
  • Incorporating landscape as part of architecture [9:39]
  • Post-pandemic design priorities [15:58]
  • Using nature in design to improve mental health [17:35]
  • How nature will be integrated into future design [24:37]

Key Quotes

On human-made vs natural

"I've certainly found that there's been so much emphasis on human-made stuff, and not enough on the counterbalance, the thing that's a relief from 'made-ness'. You go into environments and everything's so hard. The ability to look into the infinite is something that made things often don't give you." [5:46]
Thomas Heatherwick

On designing better working environments

"Why wouldn't you have the qualities you aspire to in your home in a workplace? What are the things that bring out the best versions of ourselves?" [13:24]
Thomas Heatherwick

On the importance of interior design for improving mental health

"Our mental health has been affected majorly. More people are aware of what our interiors mean for our wellbeing. A focus on healthy materials is not just growing in commercial projects like the workplace, but also for residential environments where natural light, clean air [and] low-emission materials are something that consumers are really going to pay attention to." [16:39]
Dewi Pinatih

On fighting back against the commercialisation of design

"We have to learn how to make places that can be really moving for us, rather than be moving for architects. And it's not just the architectural profession – it's procurement, it's the way that the commercial world has been driving the agenda of making cities. The human side has got pushed aside." [25:13]
Thomas Heatherwick

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