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Bringing Natural Elements in Architecture and Design

Nature has always been a source of inspiration. At this year's iF DESIGN AWARD, lots of products and built projects create a new harmony between human and natural environment.

Whenever natural elements surround us, we feel right at ease, less stressed and in touch with ourselves and the environment. A trend strongly recognizable in hospitality as well as in residential by seeking to balance between ecological value, comfort, and modern design. Many architects and designers have understood that there is a perceptual dialogue between the space and individual and thus environments for individual well-beings. 

The use of natural materials, the consumtion of less energy and water, or keeping the building cool with green facades — the charactericitcs of more sustainable hotel and residential buildings are as varied as nature itself and the innovation grade of products from categories like building technology, lighting, bath, and kitchen

iF award-winning designs 2021

Within a village of Hangzhou in China, the architects have completed the renovation of a rural old house and its adjoining four courtyards to create a boutique hotel that blends traditional architecture with contemporary design.
MYMORY Boutique Hotel - The Rural Old House Reborn | Manufacturer: MYMORY Boutique Hotel, Hangzhou, China

Within a village of Hangzhou in China, the architects have completed the renovation of a rural old house and its adjoining four courtyards to create a boutique hotel that blends traditional architecture with contemporary design.

Ícaro merges the benefits of houses and urban apartments in a sustainable three-tower complex in Curitiba, Brazil,. The project’s premise is based on offering naturally lit and comfortable environments while ensuring the dwellers’ privacy using local and natural materials.
ICARO JARDINS DO GRACIOSA | Manufacturer: AG7 Realty, Lin'an, Hangzhou, China

Ícaro merges the benefits of houses and urban apartments in a sustainable three-tower complex in Curitiba, Brazil,. The project’s premise is based on offering naturally lit and comfortable environments while ensuring the dwellers’ privacy using local and natural materials.

Tanit is a portable and rechargeable table lamp, with soft light diffused through a screen woven by hand with cotton thread.
Tanit M/29/R | Manufacturer: Bover Barcelona, Cardedeu, Spain

Tanit is a portable and rechargeable table lamp, with soft light diffused through a screen woven by hand with cotton thread.

This granite composite sink with a distinctive apron front is reminiscent of a classic farmhouse-style sink. With two installation options, a striking granite look and high resistance make this sink a unique kitchen feature.
VINTERA | Manufacturer: BLANCO GmbH & Co. KG, Oberderdingen, Germany

This granite composite sink with a distinctive apron front is reminiscent of a classic farmhouse-style sink. With two installation options, a striking granite look and high resistance make this sink a unique kitchen feature.

SIGNATURE is a customizable collection of bathroom furnishings. The selection of removable front covers made from a variety of materials can be used to accommodate changing tastes or new interior designs. Moreover, faucets and toilets can be matched to the front cover materials thanks to customizable covers.
SIGNATURE | Manufacturer: JOMOO Kitchen & Bath Co., Ltd., Fujian, China

SIGNATURE is a customizable collection of bathroom furnishings. The selection of removable front covers made from a variety of materials can be used to accommodate changing tastes or new interior designs. Moreover, faucets and toilets can be matched to the front cover materials thanks to customizable covers.

The design of this residential building follows the world outlook of Six-Directions in Buddhism, and integrates the architecture into environment in the Six Directions of East, West, South, North, Sky and Earth , as if it grew naturally from the wild.
Six-Direction Meditation Courtyard House | Manufacturer: ICI Architecture, Guangzhou, China

The design of this residential building follows the world outlook of Six-Directions in Buddhism, and integrates the architecture into environment in the Six Directions of East, West, South, North, Sky and Earth , as if it grew naturally from the wild.

The overall design of house is simplified from complexity, free of complex decorations. Modern architectural techniques and materials are adopted to express the tranquility, which is impermanent and inclusive. The layout of three bedrooms, two living room and two bathrooms meets the residential needs and the spiritual needs, and there is enough storage area for the owners.
Sanctuary of the Soul | Manufacturer: UNI-X ASSOCIATES, Nanjing, China

The overall design of house is simplified from complexity, free of complex decorations. Modern architectural techniques and materials are adopted to express the tranquility, which is impermanent and inclusive. The layout of three bedrooms, two living room and two bathrooms meets the residential needs and the spiritual needs, and there is enough storage area for the owners.

The design of this residential builing evolved to use relatively simple forms and durable materials. On the morphological side, it transformed into a floating box shape from a traditional gable roof. It is a result that shifted upper floor space gradually falls to kitchen space.
Tranquility House | Manufacturer: e-depot, Goyang-si, Gyeonggi-do, South Korea

The design of this residential builing evolved to use relatively simple forms and durable materials. On the morphological side, it transformed into a floating box shape from a traditional gable roof. It is a result that shifted upper floor space gradually falls to kitchen space.

The design of this hood and hob is inspired by the European culture's understanding of nature. The product is divided into two parts, the top used to absorb lampblack, enveloped around smoke, the middle strong fumes. The stove adopts a minimalist pot holder shape with a pure appearance.
Natural Series | Manufacturer: Midea Group, Foshan, China

The design of this hood and hob is inspired by the European culture's understanding of nature. The product is divided into two parts, the top used to absorb lampblack, enveloped around smoke, the middle strong fumes. The stove adopts a minimalist pot holder shape with a pure appearance.

Built in six weeks as a 100% tongue and groove house, with construction and interior living requirements, this residential house is a process of creating a symbiosis with the environment. Furniture that pulls out into the outdoors, a barbecue grill that becomes a kitchen, camping chairs that become living room chairs - these all represent the extension of offline living to the outside.
House 1 / 2 | Manufacturer: Hide Lin, Taoyuan City, Taiwan

Built in six weeks as a 100% tongue and groove house, with construction and interior living requirements, this residential house is a process of creating a symbiosis with the environment. Furniture that pulls out into the outdoors, a barbecue grill that becomes a kitchen, camping chairs that become living room chairs - these all represent the extension of offline living to the outside.

How can you relax comfortably semi-outdoors? This residential building was designed with such thoughts in mind. The facade uses a doubled skin to hide the windows or unnecessary lines seeing over the house; this installation also improves the performance for insulation from heat and solar shading.
Oranque | Manufacturer: kiriko design office, Kochi City, Japan

How can you relax comfortably semi-outdoors? This residential building was designed with such thoughts in mind. The facade uses a doubled skin to hide the windows or unnecessary lines seeing over the house; this installation also improves the performance for insulation from heat and solar shading.

The cabin is located in the midst of a cloudy hillside and enjoys a magnificent view of the forests. From the wooden structure on the outside, the interior of the house is made of solid wood. The large floor-to-ceiling windows bring the natural greenery into the house.
Into the mountain: A cozy cabin | Manufacturer: Corange Design, Zhubei City, Hsinchu County, Taiwan

The cabin is located in the midst of a cloudy hillside and enjoys a magnificent view of the forests. From the wooden structure on the outside, the interior of the house is made of solid wood. The large floor-to-ceiling windows bring the natural greenery into the house.

Each floor of this interior design project is an open space that uses a lot of glass, as well as the penetrating metal stairs and air bridge that construct a lithe flow line of lights and air.
Flowing into the Boundless Realm: Poem of Rain | Manufacturer: Shang Yih Interior Design Co., Ltd., Taipei, Taiwan

Each floor of this interior design project is an open space that uses a lot of glass, as well as the penetrating metal stairs and air bridge that construct a lithe flow line of lights and air.

Linnut - the Finnish word for birds - is a collection of lighting sculptures. These birds are made of rotational-moulded polycarbonate, a material allowing to create an effect very similar to the rich finish so typical of blown glass.
Linnut | Manufacturer: Magis S.p.A., Torre Di Mosto, Italy

Linnut - the Finnish word for birds - is a collection of lighting sculptures. These birds are made of rotational-moulded polycarbonate, a material allowing to create an effect very similar to the rich finish so typical of blown glass.

'Hong' is a Japanese restaurant, the predecessor of this restaurant is a movie props warehouse; built in the 1960s, brick-wood structure. The interior design of ‘Hong’ represents the traditional humanity spirit and spiritual value. Architecturally and structurally, the designer retains the original wood structure of the original warehouse roof, which is a wonderful memory.
Hong Japanese cuisine | Manufacturer: Fairytale Group, Xi 'an, China

'Hong' is a Japanese restaurant, the predecessor of this restaurant is a movie props warehouse; built in the 1960s, brick-wood structure. The interior design of ‘Hong’ represents the traditional humanity spirit and spiritual value. Architecturally and structurally, the designer retains the original wood structure of the original warehouse roof, which is a wonderful memory.

This residential house architecture and interior design focuses on the minimum necessary "living". The housing suits the site environment, climate, natural features, and the senses of the residents.
Honest house | Manufacturer: KIMURA KOUGYO Co., Ltd., Kiyose-shi, Japan

This residential house architecture and interior design focuses on the minimum necessary "living". The housing suits the site environment, climate, natural features, and the senses of the residents.

This residential interior design project is mainly used as a vacation house and also a place to accommodate guests. The overall color is based on grey and black, which response to the calmness while incorporating the wood color to increase a warm feeling.
Dance with Nature | Manufacturer: YUANKING International Interior Design Co., Ltd., Kaohsiung City, Taiwan

This residential interior design project is mainly used as a vacation house and also a place to accommodate guests. The overall color is based on grey and black, which response to the calmness while incorporating the wood color to increase a warm feeling.

  • 01/17

From nature-themed designs to the use of natural materials, bringing the outdoors in plays an important role in creating a space that exudes simplicity and tranquility. Some people don’t even have much free time to spend outside due to working conditions or health circumstances and for them, integrating natural elements in their interior design is another way of reconnecting with nature.

Nature is also an essential inspiration for everyday products since it creates a more productive and healthier environment for people. In a world where we heavily rely on digital processes and technology, organic elements give us a feeling of being connected with nature. For instance, wood and greenery add a warm, vibrant texture to a room, while striking finishes like stone or stone veneer give the design a contemporary twist. The mantra is: Being respectful of the environment is a given.

iF gold award-winning designs 2021

Morelli is a holiday home in Tuscany. Built in a traditional Tuscan style, the house was restored and extended with an outside area, and complemented by a modern interior. Looking towards a reduced material palette, cotto was used throughout the house – on floors, the fireplace and the kitchens.
Morelli | Manufacturer: Holzrausch GmbH, Forstern, Germany

Morelli is a holiday home in Tuscany. Built in a traditional Tuscan style, the house was restored and extended with an outside area, and complemented by a modern interior. Looking towards a reduced material palette, cotto was used throughout the house – on floors, the fireplace and the kitchens.

OSOL is a permanent art pavilion that was installed on the west coast of South Korea. Inspired by the reflection of light on the sea, OSOL, the pine forest-like structure made from anodized aluminum, reflects the surrounding colors and allows visitors to gain a new perspective on the relationship between man and nature.
OSOL | Manufacturer: Hwaseong City, Hwaseong City, South Korea and Gyeonggi Cultural Foundation, Suwon-si, South Korea

OSOL is a permanent art pavilion that was installed on the west coast of South Korea. Inspired by the reflection of light on the sea, OSOL, the pine forest-like structure made from anodized aluminum, reflects the surrounding colors and allows visitors to gain a new perspective on the relationship between man and nature.

Located in the middle of the white deer plain in Xi 'an, the capital of China's Shaanxi Province, the linguistic symbolism embedded in the architecture of this resort hotel reflects continuity and rhythm. Changes in sunlight and shadow produce different experiences.
White Deer Plain. Tongchen Hotel | Manufacturer: Shaanxi Siji Yuanmai, Xi‘an, China

Located in the middle of the white deer plain in Xi 'an, the capital of China's Shaanxi Province, the linguistic symbolism embedded in the architecture of this resort hotel reflects continuity and rhythm. Changes in sunlight and shadow produce different experiences.

  • 01/03

At this year's iF DESIGN AWARD, lots of modern hotels, guest villages and building complexes are honored in the Disciplines Architecture and Interior Architecture and show major hospitality trends. The gold awarded "Morelli" holiday home in the mountainous landscape of Tuscany, for example, uses local materials such as cotto and bog oak in all its rooms. "Six-Direction Meditation Courtyard House" even includes religious aspects of Buddhism. "OSOL" is gold awarded and a one-of-a-kind public art pavilion that mimics a pine forest and stands on a tidal beach in South Korea. The folding doors of "Tranquility House" to the garden is an illustrative example of making the boundary of in and out ambiguous. All of them in celebration of the alluring beauty of nature.

More and more architects and designers keep sustainability in mind these days to create projects in harmony with nature. It seems like they are aware of the harm made by a world heavily characterized by plastic consumption and choose materials that are easily associated with topics of reuse and recycling. These ideas are accompanied by a new naturalness, to which the use of local materials makes a decisive contribution. Designer and iF juror Marta Alonso Yebra advices: "In situ manufacturing is a good example of how to reduce waste and CO2 since it brings together ways for dealing with local materials and crafts from different cultures."

Bringing Natural Elements in Architecture and Design
In situ manufacturing is a good example of how to reduce waste and CO2 since it brings together ways for dealing with local materials and crafts from different cultures.
Designer and iF juror Marta Alonso Yebra

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(published in May 2021)

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