Natural Instincts: Finding Physical, Emotional, and Spiritual Wellness on Planet Earth
For our first trend of the new year, we’re going back to the most basic thing — our connection with the planet. Those of us who spend hours in the digital realm each day are feeling a strong pull toward nature as an antidote to high-tech, high-speed lifestyles, and the anxiety of always-on news and social networks. People are seeking wellness through natural ingredients in everything from foods and beauty products to textiles and organic mattresses. They’re also looking to nature as a sanctuary and choosing brands that provide for their material and spiritual needs.
The Natural Instincts trend is shaping the visual world, too. Exquisite images of pristine ecosystems, along with photographs of people finding solitude and rejuvenation in nature, are trending in stock. In the last year, Adobe Stock users explored the search term “introspection” 80 percent more frequently than the year before, “self-care” jumped 78 percent, and searches for “veganism” spiked by 93 percent. (Check out our curated gallery of Adobe Stock for a collection of Natural Instincts-inspired images and videos).
Natural ingredients, spiritual healing, and sacred retreats
In the last year, 88 percent of U.S. households purchased organic foods and beverages, according to Nielsen. Fifty-one percent of households say they look for “natural” ingredients in personal care products as well.
While much of the demand for natural ingredients is rooted in physical health concerns, there’s also another theme at work — the idea that natural ingredients, by getting us closer to nature, can help restore our balance, heal us, and give us a spiritual boost. Mainstream retailers like Free People, are dipping into the spirituality market with energy-balancing crystals and other healing products. New beauty brands such as Moon Bath and Zephorium tune customers into the earth’s natural rhythms. And Rituel de Fille, a beauty line whose founders embrace the ancient arts of potion making, focuses on “the magical side of natural ingredients, and the ritualistic, ceremonial power of pigment.”
These forays into the spiritual realm might have been taboo just a few years ago, but now they’re increasingly mainstream. A growing number of Americans (27 percent) identify themselves as spiritual but not religious, according to the Pew Research Center — a jump of eight percentage points in the last five years. The trend grew across race, gender, and political affiliations.
Spiritual retreats into nature are booming. The Maha Rose Center for Healing encourages visitors to take advantage of full and new moons for deeper reflection, and provides holistic healing with crystals. Similarly, Rise Gatherings provides a sacred, natural space for women’s wellness and healing. London’s Secret Yoga Club takes participants on retreats to natural locations to practice yoga in the elements. Even Lululemon is in on the movement.
Spiritual icons like Shiva Rose and Colleen McCann are gaining popularity too. McCann, the founder of Style Rituals, a crystal shaman, Goop contributor, and Instagrammer with more than 10,000 followers, thinks the demand for a spiritual, natural connection makes sense right now: “In today’s anxiety-ridden culture, who wouldn’t want a master class in enlightenment?”
Manufacturing in harmony with nature
Bio-manufacturing — developing products in partnership with nature — is another development we’ve got our eyes on. Carole Collet’s Biolace is a vision into the future, with genetically engineered plants that produce food above ground while their roots create intricate textiles below. Bolt Threads uses bioengineering to produce spider silk-inspired proteins for durable fabrics, and the underground root structure of mushrooms to make a leather-like material.
Full Grown may be the most awe-inspiring biomanufacturing we’ve seen. The group grows living trees into chairs, tables, and lamps. It’s art that “emits oxygen, absorbs CO2, and whose by-products sustain the birds, the bees, and other wildlife.” The founder, Gavin Munro, describes the project as “an organized woodland that emits chairs once a year.”
The slow pace of growing a chair turns out to be green, aesthetically pleasing, and deeply spiritual — Gavin calls it “Zen 3D printing.”
Creating nature in the visual world
In the visual world, the Natural Instincts trend is driving creative work that embraces landscapes, calmness, connection, natural wellness, and self-designed spirituality. Pantone’s color of 2019, Living Coral, reflects the movement through a warm hue that reminds us to care for the natural world as we care for ourselves.
Artists, such as Adobe Stock Premium contributor Archan Nair, explore the relationship between people and nature. Archan’s illustrations draw on organic forms and mysticism, revealing interconnectedness on a universal scale.
Takeaways for brands and designers
In a time of digitally driven alienation and anxiety, nature is our refuge — we’re turning to it for health and spirituality. Brands can join the trend by being mindful of consumers’ desires for safe, natural ingredients, and their longing for an emotional connection with the earth. Imagery that evokes nature — everything from panoramic landscapes to the smallest, most meditative details — will resonate.