“Architects, interior designers, and even office managers have begun incorporating elements of Biophilia to alleviate the disparity between our urban lives and our born need to be close to nature, making our office environments more palatable,”Amanda Lim, Head of Knight Frank’s Flexible Office Solutions
For most of us city dwellers today, the “natural habitat” is largely the built environment; 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.
The 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 well-being and psychological health.
Many businesses are keen to have a biophilic design in the workplace for the many benefits it has for employees, and guests, not to mention the financial gains.
However, it can be daunting to decide where to start with biophilic design, but 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.
Table of Contents
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 biophilic design trends for the workplace at an increasing rate!
What Are The Benefits Of Biophilic Design?
Help People Recover Faster From Illness
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.
Increase Businesses’ Profit Margins
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.
Reduce Sickness And Sick Leave For Employees
Plants can help lower the prevalence of sick building syndrome (SBS), a disorder associated with interior environments that are considered to be caused by variables such as inadequate ventilation, low humidity, and poor lighting. Symptoms include headaches, skin irritation, and sleepiness, and they can have a significant influence on a workforce’s productivity.
Plants can aid with SBS symptoms by eliminating harmful indoor air pollutants such as formaldehyde, benzene, and xylene.
Learn more about the 12 Best Indoor Office Plants: Experts’ Top Choices
Increase Employees’ Productivity
Furthermore, employees perform better in offices with domestic plants, according to Dr. Chris Knight and colleagues at Exeter University. Years of studies have revealed that workers are 15% more productive when houseplants and décor are present. Employees that are more involved with their surroundings deliver more and are more focused.
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
In biophilic design, nature and natural features such as water features, plant life, and fresh air are integral. One of the most successful strategies for 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.
Learn more about The 6 Health Benefits of Indoor Plants
2. Light And Space
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
Variable natural environments are 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
This fourth principle looks at our sensory systems and how our senses 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
Here we look at design as contextualizing the interior space within the wider area’s historical, cultural, ecological, or even spiritual context in mind.
Good biophilic design incorporates elements of the above. This could be in the form of provoking artwork that harmonizes well with the company culture. Incorporate plants to soften such sentiments and induce feelings of vitality. The point of this principle is to promote identity, break monotony, and gain some comfort and encouragmement along the way.
6. Evolved Human-Nature Relationships
This last biophilic design principle focuses on the relationship between humans and nature. The idea is to restore our responsibility to 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: 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 a biophilic office design are clear, having an entire building or office space developed with a 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
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.
Another simple way to incorporate green walls into your workspace is to use wall-mounted planters, Jay Scotts’ Nile wall planters are extremely lightweight and sturdy since they are made from the finest fiberglass; therefore, installing a green wall using Nile planters won’t leave any damage to your vertical spaces. With only 5” width, these planters are perfect low-profile additions to indoor or outdoor vertical spaces.
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
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
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
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.
A holistic flow to the greenery should be the goal and this can easily be achieved by using rectangular 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.
See how Jay Scotts’ rectangular planters were used to frame pathways and divine spaces in one of our featured projects: Pura Vida Las Olas, Miami
5. Choose Reflective Wall Art
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 the 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
Air quality is essential for the health of employees and customers, having movement of air also mimics the natural world, which is an important part of biophilic design.
To improve air quality, you can use air filters, open up ventilation between indoors and 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
Apart from having a lush amount of indoor plants, bringing in the element of water adds to the 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
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.
Learn Why Experts Favor Fiberglass as the best material for hardscapes and planters.
9. Creating A Bathroom With A Restorative Feel
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
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!
Office Design With Jay Scotts Planters
The client was looking to find planters that would not only compliment the office space but also keep the plants healthy and not be a potential nuisance or safety hazard.View Project
Jay Scotts Planters Integrate Well With Biophilic Design
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 20 stunning standard colors, and the option for custom colors, that will be suitable for any color scheme you or your clients require, our team at Jay Scotts hand-finishes 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!