Eco-friendly vs. biophilic (in graphic design)

Eco-friendly and biophilic design are sustainable and nature-inspired graphic design trends that have gained significant attention in recent years. This article compares their differences, benefits, challenges, and reasons to use them.

What is eco-friendly design?

Eco-friendly design, also known as *sustainable design, focuses on minimizing the environmental impact of design practices. It involves using materials, processes, and techniques that are sustainable, renewable, and non-toxic. The goal is to reduce waste, conserve energy, and promote the use of eco-friendly materials.

*Although the terms “eco-friendly” and “sustainable” are often used interchangeably, they have different meanings. Eco-friendly refers to products or practices that are not harmful to the environment. Sustainability refers to the ability of a product or practice to be maintained over time without compromising quality or performance.

Exploring biophilic design

Biophilic design is centered around the idea of bringing nature into the design process. It acknowledges the innate connection between humans and nature and aims to create environments that mimic natural elements. It seeks to enhance the user’s well-being, creativity, and productivity.

Advantages and challenges

Both eco-friendly and biophilic design offer numerous advantages and benefits to both designers and users; however, they also present challenges and limitations.

Eco-friendly designBiophilic design
Advantages Designers can reduce their carbon footprint and contribute to a healthier planet.

Using sustainable materials can also lead to cost savings in the long run.
Biophilic design has been shown to have a positive impact on human well-being.

Studies have found that exposure to nature in design can reduce stress, increase productivity, and improve overall satisfaction.
ChallengesEco-friendly design may require additional research and sourcing of sustainable materials, which can be time-consuming and costly.Biophilic design may not always be feasible in certain design contexts or may contradict the goals or values of the product. It may face criticism from various stakeholders.

A Comparison

  • Focuses on sustainability and minimizing environmental impact.
  • More concerned with the materials and processes used.


  • Using recycled or biodegradable materials for printing and packaging, such as soy-based inks, cardboard, paper, or corn starch.
  • Choosing eco-friendly fonts that use less ink, such as Ryman Eco, Ecofont, or Spranq Eco Sans.
  • Creating digital products that minimize energy consumption and carbon emissions, such as websites, apps, or e-books.
  • Designing logos or graphics that communicate environmental messages or values.
  • Applying green principles to the design process, such as reducing waste, reusing resources, or collaborating with local suppliers.
  • Emphasizes the connection between humans and nature.
  • Focused on incorporating natural elements into the design.


  • Incorporating natural elements into the design, such as plants, animals, water, or landscapes.
  • Using natural colors, textures, or patterns that evoke nature, such as green, brown, wood grain, or leaf shapes.
  • Creating designs that mimic natural forms or structures, such as biomimicry, fractals, or Fibonacci spirals.
  • Enhancing the sensory experience of the design, such as adding sounds, smells, or tactile feedback that relate to nature.

* Both approaches can coexist and complement each other.

Key takeaway

It is important for graphic designers to consider the impact their work has on the environment and the well-being of users. By incorporating eco-friendly and biophilic design principles into their projects, they can create designs that are not only visually appealing but also sustainable and beneficial to users.

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The content of this article was based on information retrieved from a conversation with ChatSonic, 2023-10-27. Edited by Athina.Design