Interior Design Trends: Biophilic Design – How to Bring Nature to Your Office

26 January 2019 / By Kelly Taylor
interior design biophilic design

Interior design trends come and go but the trend toward biophilic design has been growing for the past few years. Bringing nature to the workplace gets more and more popular. It’s no wonder since it looks good and makes people feel (and work) better.

Biophilic design, however, is not simply placing a green wall or pictures of forests in your office. It’s a systematic approach that needs to be well thought-out in order to work. In this blog post, we’re going to talk about biophilic design and how it affects your bottom line.

Biophilia: One of Interior Design Trends that Actually Makes a Difference

interior design biophilic design
Interior design that makes you feel better and work better? Yes, please!

Biophilia is defined as a desire to reconnect with nature. As humans, we thrive in environments that help us feel that connection.

That’s why the trend to incorporate biophilia into interior design has been gaining traction. Now we want to connect with nature not only in our homes but also at work. Large companies competing for top talent use biophilic design to attract and retain employees.

Why? Simply put, when employees feel better, they work better.

Biophilic Design and Employee Well-Being

interior design biophilic design
Biophilic design has proven to have a positive impact on employee well-being.

High salary and growth opportunities are not be-all and end-all for the modern workforce. These days, work-life balance and well-being are just as important for many employees.

Let’s be honest. Who’d prefer a windowless office with lifeless fluorescent lights and rows of cubicles to a green workplace with beautiful views, plants, and natural textures?

You’re right. Not too many people would.

Multiple studies have shown that biophilic elements in interior design such as visual connection with nature, good air-quality, and presence of water have a positive impact on office workers. They are linked to stress reduction, improved heart rate, blood pressure, and attention.

We feel better when our urban jungle looks less urban and more like a jungle. It turns out, we work better, too.

How Biophilic Design Improves Productivity

interior design biophilic design
Biophilia in interior design has been linked to increased productivity.

While it’s important to keep employees happy and healthy, you probably want to make sure everything you do also improves your bottom line.

According to a UK study, employees in offices with natural greenery saw a 15 percent rise in productivity in a three-month period. Another study by the Human Spaces Report found that natural elements increased productivity by 6% and creativity by 15%. On top of that, biophilic design is linked to lower absenteeism rates.

As you can see, investing in some windows and plants impacts office workers’ performance. So, how do you implement it in your space?

Biophilia in Interior Design: How to Make It Work

interior design biophilic design
A couple of potted plants won’t cut it. Biophilia requires a systematic approach.

As we’ve mentioned before, biophilic design is more than merely putting a couple of potted plants in your office. But that could be a good start.

It’s important to think of it as a system. No matter if you occupy a small office space or an entire building, you can find a way to make biophilic elements (or so-called patterns) work as a whole.

These patterns are:

Visual Connection to Nature

Start implementing biophilia in interior design of your office with creating a visual connection to nature. If you’re on a budget, plants are your best friends. Plus, you can move the furniture to take advantage of window views.

If you’re ready to invest more, you can explore options such as trellis wall plant screens, living green walls, or even a green roof.

Non-Visual Connection to Nature

Take your biophilic design to the next step. Stimulate the sense of hearing by creating a quieter workplace and use natural textures to stimulate the sense of touch.

You can even play with the sense of smell. For example, did you know that the smell of coffee has a calming effect?

Non-Rhythmic Sensory Stimuli

Nature is never static but the office is. The only thing that’s ever moving is the images on our screens.

Non-rhythmic sensory stimulus is a kind of unpredictable movement at the corner of your eye. In nature, it’s the flow of the river, the flickering of the fire and grass moving in the wind.

While you probably shouldn’t have fire in your office, you can place certain objects employees will see from the corner of their eye. For instance, it can be a mini-fountain – you don’t have to recreate a river to implement biophilia in your office.

Thermal and Air Flow

Air quality is critical to employee comfort in the workplace. Make sure it’s not stuffy, too hot, or too cold.

To create cross ventilation, use an HVAC unit – or simply open the windows.

Presence of Water

Remember that mini-fountain we’ve mentioned? It can help you create Presence of Water, which is another pattern of biophilic design.

If the budget allows, you can take it further and have water features such as water wall, wall fountain or floor fountain. They look amazing and will definitely bring nature to your office.

Dynamic and Diffuse Light

In a windowless office, it’s easy to forget whether it’s day or night. That’s why biophilic design reinforces human’s connection to the natural daylight rhythms.

Windows will let the sunshine in, connecting your employees with daylight rhythms. However, we recommend window treatments to protect your office from overheating, glare and UV rays. Window tint film can be a great solution allowing the sunlight in but blocking its negative effects.

Connection with Natural Systems

This connects us with natural processes such as seasonal changes. If you’re located in a place that doesn’t have four seasons, you can have plants that grow and die with seasons to create that connection.

Biomorphic Forms and Patterns

Add some naturally-occurring shapes in textiles and custom patterns. The patterns shouldn’t be straight or perfectly symmetrical. The idea is to recreate patterns we see in nature.

Custom wall coverings and glass films can help you create any pattern at an affordable price.

Material Connection with Nature

If possible, use some natural materials to get the most of biophilic design in your office to the next level. But again, if you’re looking to save, surface coverings such as Di-Noc will help you create the look and feel of natural materials without paying high costs.

Complexity and Order

This concept aims to create symmetry and order that exist in nature. To achieve this, you can use shapes such as fractals and create symmetric patterns in interior design.

Prospect

A long time ago, our ancestors used to look across the Savanna plains for trees, water, and animals. While we probably don’t need to worry about predators in the office, it still makes us feel good to be able to look across the room we’re in and see the big picture.

This concept is called Prospect.

You can implement Prospect by adding balconies and transparent materials like glass and using an open space floor plan.

Refuge

It’s possible that one of the reasons open plan office doesn’t work as well as once expected is that it doesn’t provide Refuge.

Refuge allows you to look out from a protected position, meaning you have cover above and behind you. You can add private pods like Nook implement this concept into your office space.

Mystery

While it’s important to see the big picture, it’s also important to stay curious. Biophilic design uses the concept of Mystery to serve that purpose.

You can achieve it by adding screen or room dividers. Curving hallways also add to the sense there’s more than meets the eye.

Risk and Peril

Don’t worry: we’re not going to tell you to put your employees at risk. The concept of Risk and Peril is similar to that of a rollercoaster. You know it’s safe but still get the adrenaline rush.

Boredom is a productivity killer. A little adrenaline will keep your employees more alert and engaged.

You don’t have to put a roller-coaster in your office to create Risk and Peril. Instead, add some glass railings to create a sense of manageable risk.

Building a climbing wall in your office kills two birds with one stone. It is an exciting activity that definitely feels risky. It’s also good for staying in shape. With the well-being trend on the rise, an office climbing wall is a hit with companies like Google having rock walls in their offices.

Biophilic Design in Your Office

interior design biophilic design
Biophilia could transform your office space.

Biophilia in interior design improves not only the look of the space but also productivity and well-being. It reduces stress and absenteeism rates, improving your bottom line.

However, it’s not enough to simply put some plants in your office to implement biophilic design. It requires a systematic approach linking multiple patterns.

Luckily, you don’t need to use all fourteen patterns to make it work. You can even use only two or three as long as it creates a smooth experience of connection with nature.

At Metropolitan West, we love the concept of biophilia and helping our clients use it in their interior design. We provide custom wall coverings and glass film, as well as window tinting film, to enhance the connection with nature in commercial spaces.

With our dedication to sustainable design and creating beautiful spaces, we’re passionate about each of our projects. Contact us today and let’s talk about bringing biophilia to your office. We’re looking forward to working with you!

About The Author

Kelly Taylor

Kelly Taylor is CEO for two companies, an innovator, and driven by her passion for improving the aesthetic and function of her clients’ spaces – a process she calls “WOWification”. As a CEO for Metropolitan West, she leads her team of professionals daily on the front line, providing products and services for design firms, construction businesses, and facility management companies by supplying and installing mural wall graphics, decorative glass films, solar control films and any other film that covers glass, walls, floors, ceilings and doors. Her most recent innovative product is peerhatch, a dry-erase writable wall covering that includes a patented graphical layer to promote collaboration in team environments.

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