Though it might seem modern and innovative, the trend towards incorporating biophilic design into the workspace in fact satisfies an age-old necessity: the basic human need to be close to nature.
But what exactly is biophilic design, and why is it so beneficial to office spaces and the people who work in them? Read on to find out more.
What is biophilic design?
Biophilia means having a love of nature, life and living things – something deeply rooted in human biology. Biophilic design is a way of creating indoor environments that satisfy this connection to nature, fulfilling the human desire to connect to the natural world. When done right, a workplace that incorporates biophilic interior design into its DNA should be a relaxing, inviting place to work.
Biophilic design boldly steps away from the traditional approach towards building, which is often dictated by the use of common, manmade materials. It makes a refreshing change from the legacy of sprawling high rise office buildings devoid of natural light, plants and fresh air.
Examples of biophilic design
There are ways both big and small to bring biophilic design into your work environment.
1. Indoor plants
Plants are a welcome burst of greenery that cheer up indoor spaces with their bright colours. They also improve the air quality of offices, reducing carbon dioxide levels and producing oxygen. Plants also help make the air inside more humid, which is particularly helpful in air conditioned offices where the air can become very dry.
2. Using natural shapes and forms
When we imagine a typical building, we might picture a square block composed of perfectly straight lines and right angles. However, these uniform shapes are unnatural. In nature, you’re far more likely to find curves and patterns – flowers, shells, trees. The complexity of these shapes and forms is something that biophilic design incorporates. It adds a sense of beauty and natural order to a space that otherwise would seem manufactured and inorganic.
Here at James Tobias, we think bringing the outside in is vital for creating a comfortable work environment. We can incorporate our moss finish and living walls into many of our products, including the back panels of our Quebix storage and display units, and the back wall of our Retreat seating booths – adding a touch of nature to any workplace interior.
3. Variation in interiors
Natural spaces offer different sensory experiences – from sweeping meadows to leafy forests. Creating this sort of environment inside an office isn’t exactly practical, but you can create a variation in your interior spaces. Making each area of your workplace feel subtly different – from the breakout lounge to the canteen – will mimic those feelings of connection to space that we experience in nature.
4. Natural light and fresh air
Another huge focus of biophilic design is incorporating natural light and plenty of fresh air wherever possible. Large windows that let in lots of light and are easy to open fit the bill perfectly – an open window will also bring natural sounds from outside into the workplace, like birdsong or trees rustling in the wind.
It’s also good to have a workplace that offers access to outside spaces where people can unwind, feel sunlight on their face and get some fresh air whenever they need it.
The benefits of biophilic design
There are countless benefits to having a workspace structured around biophilic design, for business owners and employees alike.
1. Improved mental wellbeing
More than ever, businesses are considering how they can make their offices a pleasant place for people to come to work in – not a place that makes their employees dread every time their alarm goes off on Monday morning.
Elements of biophilic design combine to create environments that make employees feel calm and happy – unlike uniform, impersonal office cubicles. Workspace interiors that incorporate biophilic design are a pleasant place to be and a nicer place to work. Having a greenspace to take a break in is also good for getting headspace and promoting good mental health.
2. Improved productivity and less absenteeism
It naturally follows that a workspace that is a pleasant place to be in is far likelier to attract and keep hardworking employees. Businesses that incorporate biophilic design elements to their workspace often find it easier to retain talented employees.
People in biophilic environments also tend to be in a more positive frame of mind throughout their working day. There will also be less absenteeism amongst the workforce, as people genuinely want to come in and spend time in a comfortable, well-designed office.
3. Improved air quality
An important element of biophilic design is bringing more plant life into the interior of a workspace, which helps oxygenate indoor spaces and improve the air quality. Plants also absorb some of the harsh chemicals found in many domestic cleaning products, another benefit to employee health.