The Benefits & Importance of Biophilic Workplace Design

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The Benefits & Importance of Biophilic Workplace Design

The Benefits & Importance of Biophilic Workplace Design

Workplace design is a vitally important aspect to your overall workplace environment. It sets the tone for the type of energy your employees, clients, and customers experience, which then sets the tone for how they feel about your company. One type of workplace design that is becoming more and more popular is biophilic workplace design, and for good cause. It takes the human need to feel connection (to each other, to the world around us) and incorporates that into creating spaces that comfort, invigorate, and inspire.  

Biophilia – What Is It?

Biophilia is the love of life and living things. As humans, it is in our nature to enjoy the biodiversity that Earth has to offer. In fact, we don’t just enjoy life on this planet; we directly benefit from it. If you have ever breathed in fresh air deeply, felt grass after an extended period in front of a computer, or found yourself mesmerized by the leaves of a tree, you have encountered the advantages of a biophilic encounter.  

Our relationship to nature connects directly to our mental and physical health, which, by extension, also affects morale and productivity. That is where biophilic design comes in.  

What Is Biophilic Design?

Source: HON

Biophilic design is a profound philosophy that acknowledges our inherent human connection with nature and strives to imitate its rejuvenating and invigorating qualities in the constructed environment. The objective of biophilic design is to create a sustainable, healthy environment that enables human beings to thrive. It’s not just a matter of aesthetics; it’s about harnessing the potential of nature to create areas that foster human health, well-being, and productivity.  

By incorporating nature into the workplace, biophilic design promotes health, creativity, and productivity by highlighting and promoting our connection to the natural world.   

Benefits of Biophilic Workplace Design

The benefits of this human-centric design philosophy are self-evident. Humans flourish in an environment intended for their comfort and prosperity. Access to natural light promotes healthy circadian rhythms, allowing for rest while cutting out stress. Studies show that time spent in natural environments reduces heart rate, lowers blood pressure, and improves mental health. Put simply, biophilic workplace design is good for you!  

What Does Biophilic Design Look Like?

Although greenery plays a crucial role, biophilic design encompasses a broad spectrum of components, including sensory experiences. The integration of nature’s sights, sounds, scents, textures, and even tastes into a space is vital. According to Jana Söderlund, author of The Emergence of Biophilic Design, “It’s about bringing nature in all its forms – including patterns, materials, shapes, spaces, smells, sights and sounds – into urban design on varying scales.” 

Biophilic design includes spatial and organizational patterns that mirror natural shapes and processes in the design layout. Think of curved pathways inspired by rivers, open spaces resembling meadows, or biomorphic furniture resembling organic shapes. Utilizing non-living natural materials such as wood, stone, water, bamboo, or recycled materials that evoke the essence of nature, even in their non-living state, is also part of biophilic design. And, of course, there is the obvious inclusion of living plants throughout your office space.

 

Biophilic Office Design

Source: HON

In the office, biophilic design can lead to a greater sense of shared experience and camaraderie amongst employees. Sustained contact with nature is more beneficial than sporadic exposure, so using natural materials is a must. Biophilic spaces promote well-being because they directly relate to human needs. Rather than prioritizing utility, biophilic office design considers the day-to-day experience of an employee, creating an environment that promotes well-being, mental and physical health, and productivity.   

Staying in Contact with Nature

Sounds great! But what does it all mean? Well, on a practical level biophilic design attempts to give workers direct and indirect contact with nature throughout the day.   

Direct Contact 

Skylights, windows, and live plants are direct ways to ‘bring the outside in.” Very few offices have windows that open, but a good air purifier can begin to simulate the effects of fresh air. To take that a step further, “green walls” (vertical indoor surfaces purposefully covered by growing vegetation like mosses) are a popular way to incorporate life into the office while introducing a natural filter for fresh air.  

Indirect Contact

The use of natural materials like wood and stone is another way to deepen your connection to nature. Images of nature and reproduced patterns found in nature are ways to indirectly connect with the world around you. For instance, a wall painted with the gentle curve of a wave promotes tranquility while fractals and geometric shapes found in nature inspire design. Green rugs can mimic the experience of walking on grass. 

How to Incorporate Biophilic Design

Biophilic design is becoming more and more popular in the creation of new spaces and the renovations of existing ones. But you can incorporate the tenets of biophilic design into your workspace today with a little know-how and the right tools for the job.   

Plants

Plants in indoor spaces are nothing new. They offer the calming green of a living thing while also acting as an air filter, improving air quality while providing aesthetic beauty. We carry a number of planters from HON perfect for adding in a touch of greenery throughout your workspace.  

Product Photos

Source: HON
Source: HON
Source: HON

Natural Colors and Textures

Source: HON

Using natural colors and textures in your furnishings has the immediate effect of softening a space. Choose tables and surfaces that feature laminate or natural woods. This high-quality line from HON offers a wide variety of textures and colors, heights and sizes.

Scents of Nature  

You can enjoy the scents of nature indoors with the use of an essential oil diffuser or a scented candle, although it may be best to keep strong scents at home. At the office, this is an opportunity to create an outdoor space with more fragrant fauna for employees to enjoy during breaks. 

The Wonders of Water

Whether it’s a short rain, a babbling brook, the swell of an ocean tide, or the rush of a river, the sound and proximity of water never fails to bring with it a sense of tranquility and calmness. While some businesses may be able to install indoor koi ponds and waterfalls, a small fountain near a window or in the right corner of the break room can have significant calming effects. Piping in the calming sounds of water lapping at a shoreline through a sound system may promote tranquility.  

Biophilic design is an excellent way to help create an inspiring and energizing work environment that benefits your employees AND your bottom line. 

John Sites
John Sites
Furniture Sales Manager - Interiors by Guernsey/furniture I enjoy lazy afternoons browsing antique stores or hiking a new mountain trail. Attending live sports is always on my to-do list and I find it impossible to turn down pizza at any meal. I love architecture and am always down to check out historical buildings. My motto...it is what it is!