How To Incorporate Biophilic Office Design Elements Into Your Current Office Space

Today, for most of us city dwellers, the “natural habitat” is largely the built environment, a trend that has only increased since the industrial revolution towards urbanization. As a result, nature has been mostly left as an afterthought.

However, human evolution and the human body were not designed for this, leaving us with mental fatigue and a lack of natural balance.

Biophilic office design aims to address the artificial quality of office environments. It is about introducing biophilic design elements that focus on the aspects of nature that contribute to our physiological indicators of physical and mental health.

Biophilic design utilizes natural materials, natural light, and natural patterns, to construct a built environment that maintains a connection to the natural world.

More than just design principles, biophilic design in commercial buildings has been found to have restorative qualities, boosting employee wellbeing and psychological health.

Many businesses are keen to have biophilic design in the workplace for the many benefits it has for employees, and guests, not to mention the financial gains.

However, it can seem daunting to decide where to start with biophilic design, especially if you are not the owner of your commercial space and may not be able to carry out extensive renovations. Worry not, we will come to that – so read on to find out the benefits of biophilic design and how to welcome biophilic design principles into your already existing office space.

What is Biophilic Office Design?


Biophilic office design as a concept is derived from the theory of ‘Biophilia’. The biophilia hypothesis suggests that there is an intrinsic human nature connection with the natural world.

‘Biophilia’ originates from Greek, literally meaning ‘a love of life or living things, and this is the idea that the human fascination and need to interact with nature stems from a biological drive to interact with other living things such as plants and animals.

In a nutshell, biophilic design is about supporting our innate need to connect with nature in the modern urban environment.

When upgraded to a biophilic space, the office building boosts human health and improves cognitive function. It’s no wonder that businesses are investing in many green design trends for the workplace at an increasing rate!

What Are The Benefits of Biophilic Design?

how to arrange plant pots in office

According to trusted environmental consultants Terrapin Bright Green, biophilic design principles can save $93 million in healthcare costs by increasing views from hospital beds to nature as patients require less time in the hospital to recover from major surgery.

Retail stores with natural daylight and greenery enjoy higher profit margins than their lifeless competitors by 12% for shops with more greenery and 40% for those with quality daylighting.

Employing biophilic design in schools has a similar effect on children where interior and exterior areas of nature have been found to improve test scores by 7-26%.

In addition, “The Global Impact of Biophilic Design in the Workplace”, a 2021 study from Human Spaces, found that workers in offices with natural elements, such as greenery and sunlight achieve;

  • 6% more productivity
  • 15% more creativity
  • 15% higher levels of well-being

So how do you get biophilic benefits?

Six Principles of Biophilic Design

At its core, biophilic design is about the overall environment and space, and less about a single or non-correlated occurrence of natural elements. The biophilic elements should tie together the entire home or office environment, integrating it together into an interconnected ecosystem. It is through the continuous engagement with natural elements that the benefits of biophilic spaces come through.

With this in mind, we look at the 6 biophilic elements that allow for its positive impact to come through.

1. Environmental Features

5 commercial office design trends for the 2022 workplace

In biophilic design, nature and natural features such as water features, plant life, and fresh air are integral. One of the most successful strategies of making the indoors seem like an outdoor space is the simple presence of plants.

Constant contact with greenery has a calming and peaceful effect on the office space, having plants coherently integrated into interior design can reduce stress, enhance mood, and improve cognitive performance and well-being.

It allows for the urban environment to be a space of respite by connecting building occupants to natural materials.

2. Light and Space

5 commercial office design trends for the 2022 workplace

Light is the crucial element behind many chemical, biological, and psychological processes in our bodies. It controls our circadian cycle as well as affects our mood and energy levels.

Biophilic design spaces are those designed to amplify natural light or to mimic the rhythmic changes of light and shadow during the day helping to regulate our mental health, mood, and sense of wellness.

3. Natural Shapes and Forms

Modern workplace with beautiful miniature zen garden and computer in room // photo by New Africa

Variable natural environments is something biophilic design seeks to bring into the indoors. Biophilic interior designers have their work cut out for them as biomorphic forms and organic shapes are as complex and varied as they come. This includes the grand openness of the steppes and the intricate details of a snowflake.

To integrate this design in the workplace or home, natural materials or symbolic textural or pattern references from nature can be used to create natural analogs. A perfect example of this is zen gardens.

4. Restorative Patterns and Processes

Concept of ecology and environment: Young business woman working in modern office with table covered of grass and plants // photo by Diego Cervo

This fourth principle looks at the sensory systems we have and how our sense of sight, sound, smell, and touch change and flow with nature. Humankind has long required managing highly sensuous as the natural world around us is in constant motion.

The built environment, however, tends to be one of sameness and stability. Biophilic office design in the workplace needs to create this flow of constant changes, be it the inclusion of outdoor areas, or different types of textures and colors indoors.

5. Place-Based Relationships

zen garden with relaxation elements // photo by joaocdfreitas

Here we look at design as contextualizing the interior space within the wider area’s topographic, historical, cultural, ecological, or even spiritual context in mind.

Biophilic design would incorporate elements of the above, this could be in the form of artwork that focuses on the biogeographical features of the area, or it could be decorative structures harmonious with the place’s culture. The point of this principle is to above monotony and lack of a sense of place.

6. Evolved Human-Nature Relationships

Mindful beautiful woman sit at home office among house plants do yoga exercise, take break, relax eyes close // photo by juliaap

This last biophilic design principle focuses on the relationship between humans and nature. The idea is to restore our responsibility of care for the environment. It is also about nature being a place of refuge for us, and biophilic design aims to recreate this sense of perceived safety.

Related article: See how biophilia can be used in restaurants to meet hospitality goals!

10 Ways to Incorporate Biophilic Office Design in the Workplace without Extensive Structural Renovations

The benefits of biophilic office design are evident, it can bring about stress reduction, healthy blood pressure, boost mood, and in general help with an overall sense of wellness for everyone in the office.

While the plus points of having biophilic office design are clear, having an entire building or office space developed with biophilic design is often out of reach for many business owners. This might be because the business owners may not own the entire property, their office is within a historic building, or they might be renters – for many such reasons, a complete biophilic structural overhaul is often unrealistic.

Even with such limitations in place, biophilic elements can be incorporated into your office space. Here are 10 great ideas that you can pick and choose from to create a harmonious and beautiful workspace.

1. Grow a Green Wall

5 commercial office design trends for the 2022 workplace

Green walls or living walls are a simple and structurally non-intrusive way to add a biophilic design to your office. An entire wall turned into a living wall can be impressive and eye-catching. If this is simply impossible or out of budget, consider hanging planters vertically on the walls to create a similar green effect.

For greater impact, situate the green wall in a high foot traffic area of your office space, allowing people to interact with nature regularly throughout the work day.

2. Welcome Natural Light

side view plants on windowstill

Embrace all the natural light that your office comes with. If possible choose a building with large windows, otherwise work with what you have.

Remove clunky and musty curtains and blinds, and any other elements that may block the path of light, such as large tables or cabinets. Arrange the furniture to work with rather than against the light, for example, an open-plan office would allow daylight to flow through more naturally and expansively.

3. Use Different Textures

Computer with keyboard and mouse on green grass // photo by Dragon Images

To avoid the same effect that many built environments have, consider introducing different textures and shapes in the office. One does not need to redo the entire space to introduce natural elements. Even something as simple as your receptionist’s desk, for example, could be in a wavy shape and made from different panels of wood.

Learn more about interior landscape design!

4. Create Green Paths and Spots with Potted Plants

Potsdam install at Baltus Midtown
Rectangular planters

Ample foliage is at the heart of biophilic design. Planters are one of the most fuss-free and elegant solutions to introducing greenery into the workplace. However, avoid isolated or singular occurrences of pots, as these have little biophilic effect.

Instead, you will want to create a holistic flow to the greenery. This can be achieved by using planters to frame pathways, line walls, or create little islands of plants that will be a source of respite and calm as one moves about that particular space.

5. Choose Reflective Wall Art

Noisy old plaster wall with Palm leaves shadow // photo by nnattalli

Going back to the fifth biophilic design principle of contextualizing your workplace within the area’s topography and history, a beautiful way to pay homage is through relevant artwork.

Dedicating spaces to artwork that reflects nature and history uplifts the spirit and morale of employees, and brings about a sense of community. Consider hiring local artists to paint murals on the wall, or displaying sculptures or handiwork that respects the relationship between humans and nature.

6. Improve Air Quality

how to arrange indoor plants
how to arrange indoor plants

Air quality is important for the health of employees and customers, having movement of air also mimics the natural world, this is an important part of biophilic design.

To improve air quality, you can use air filters, open up ventilation between indoors and the outdoors, and of course, make sure that there are plenty of plants in the office.

Read more about how to fix your air quality with plants!

7. Add Water Features

Park with fountains and benches in front of the Business Center // photo by Pavel L Photo and Video

Apart from having a lush amount of indoor plants, bringing in the element of water adds to biophilic design.

A water feature, such as a small fountain, can be a focal point of serenity and calm in the hectic office. Water is such an integral part of life, and the sound of water flowing is such a natural one, bringing balance to the workplace.

8. Select Natural Materials

Work from home. desk office with laptop, blank notepad, coffee cup and pen on wood table // photo by chalrumpon onnongwa

When it comes to furnishing the workplace, opt for natural over synthetic materials to bring in patterns, shapes, and textures from nature indoors. For example, choose to have sustainable wooden tables instead of plastic ones, or go for natural upholstery instead of pleather.

Related article: Learn why experts favor fiberglass as the best material for hardscapes and planters.

9. Make the Bathroom A Relaxing Place

Bamboo soap dispenser on green moss background // photo by j.chizhe

Offices tend to have sterile, utilitarian toilets, not quite a place to relax and feel at ease. Creating a bathroom with a restorative feel is a simple but effective way to create a biophilic office design.

Surrounding the bathroom with plants would go a long way in making the space less clinical and cold. Think also about selecting a peaceful color scheme that evokes nature, such as deep blues and sandy tones reminiscent of the ocean.

10. Create a Safe Space

At the end of the day, biophilic design in the workplace helps create an office environment where employees can not only feel comfortable but also where they feel they belong.

Hard and softscapes such as planters offer a place of refuge when arranged correctly. Linear planters can be used to carve out private work and relaxation areas from large spaces and enable offices to divide rooms quickly and effectively.

Learn how to use plant room dividers in commercial spaces.

Foliage at the Forefront of Biophilic Office Design

It is clear that greenery and foliage are fundamental to biophilic office design. More than just scattering random pots of plants about, it is about using foliage to create a cohesive, ecosystem throughout the workplace.

Interested in biophilic plants? Download our free expert guide to the best indoor plants!

Why Use Fiberglass Planters For Easy Biophilic Design?


A beautiful way to bring the natural world of plants indoors is through a landscape of planters. Especially for offices that are unable to do extensive structural work, planters are an elegant solution for creating a biophilic environment.

Fiberglass planters have been a firm favorite of landscape professionals for their durability, strength, versatility, and beauty.

Especially when it comes to creating a biophilic office garden, interior designers have found the above qualities are essential for planters.

With a large container garden to look after all across the workspace, it is crucial that the planters are reliable, require little maintenance, and are lightweight enough to move about.

Fiberglass excels compared to other planter materials in all these aspects. With no need to worry about the planter, you can focus on the foliage instead.

Read our guide to learn how to use lines and shapes with planter arrangements to create balance and harmony!

See Jay Scotts Planters In Action!

Take a look and see how Jay Scotts planters were perfect for this office space!

Botanic Office Design By Plant Parents

The client was looking to find planters and greenery that would thrive in an office environment. They needed planters that would not only compliment the office space but also keep the plants healthy and not a potential nuisance or safety hazard. 

Read more

View Project

Jay Scotts Planters Integrate Well With Biophilic Design

Wannsee Montroy
Wannsee and Montroy planters // Installed by

Made from commercial-grade fiberglass and handcrafted to perfection, our dedication to designing, manufacturing, and delivering world-class planters at incredible value has led us to the global leaders we are today.

Available in an array of 18 stunning colors that will be suitable for any color scheme you or your clients require, our team at Jay Scotts hand finish each planter with a UV protective coating before it leaves our headquarters in Miami, Florida.

Source our planters with peace of mind, all of our planters come with an industry-leading warranty emphasizing the commitment and value of our products and service. Choose from a large range of standard products or choose to custom order your own. Feel free to give us a call or put together a quote today!

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