Organic design is a philosophy that promotes harmony between human habitation and the natural world through design approaches so sympathetic and well-integrated with its site, that buildings, furnishings, and surroundings become part of a unified, interrelated composition.
The term organic design was coined by the great American architect Frank Lloyd. Wright introduced the word ‘organic’ into his philosophy of architecture as early as 1908. Although the word ‘organic’ in common usage refers to something which has the characteristics of animals or plants, Organic design takes on a new meaning. It is not a style of imitation, because organic design does not claim to be building forms which were representative of nature. Instead, organic design is a reinterpretation of nature’s principles as they had been filtered through the intelligent minds of men and women who could then build forms that are more natural than nature itself.
Organic design involves respect for the properties of the materials. Organic design is also an attempt to integrate the spaces into a coherent whole: a marriage between the site and the structure and a union between the context and the structure.
The idea of organic design refers not only to the buildings' literal relationship to the natural surroundings but how the buildings' design is carefully thought about as if it were a unified organism. Geometries throughout buildings build a central mood and theme. Essentially organic design is also the literal design of every element of a building: From the windows to the floors, to the individual chairs intended to fill the space. Everything relates to one another, reflecting the symbiotic ordering systems of nature.
Bruce Brooks Pfeiffer has made the following observations about Organic Architecture (quoted in Rattenbury 12):
"Organic architecture is architecture appropriate to the time, appropriate to place, and appropriate to man."
"Appropriate to time" means a building that belongs to the era in which it is created, addresses contemporary life-styles, social patterns, and conditions, and employs available materials and new technological methods gracefully and honestly.
"Appropriate to place" means a building in harmony with its natural environment—a building that in its proportions, materials, and design, belongs to its site.
"Appropriate to man" means a humane architecture, on a human scale.