The term ‘biophilia’ translates to ‘the love of living things’ in ancient Greek (philia = the love of / inclination towards).
Biophilia is simply an innate tendency humans have to connect and be with nature. The term was first coined by biologist and naturalist Edward O. Wilson in 1984. It makes sense that we have a deep primordial need to connect with the natural world. Not only does it make sense logically and scientifically; there is something visceral and quite beautiful about this notion; much like the connection itself!
Science and recent reports coming off the back of the pandemic show the universal connectivity of humans with our built and natural environments. This is where we step into “Biophilic design”.
The relationship we have with our workspaces is crucial in supporting our happiest, most creative and highest-performing selves. Interior design using natural elements, colours and patterns that mimic nature, indoor plants and views of greenery helps us to mentally recover and provide respite from our day-to-day activities to maintain positive overall well-being.
Here’s a question: If you wanted to imagine yourself in a place of complete relaxation and contentment, the chances are you are going to be in a meadow in the Swiss Alps on a beautiful sunny day with the sun beaming on your face or in a hammock under some palm trees in Bora Bora with the breeze blowing gently and nothing but the sounds of nature right? Odds are this is where you find emotional comfort and not only can we bring a small part of this into our workspaces, it’s fundamental to our health.
Biophilic workspace design
It’s way more than just inserting a couple of planters onto a desk. It’s holistic in its approach and you need to appreciate the core meaning of biophilia while looking closely at how we can interact with natural elements throughout our working day. Architects and designers are turning to biophilia as a key source of inspiration for design solutions that promote well-being, health, and emotional comfort more than ever.
Thinking about the human experience in the workspaces will be a fundamental change in the next decades that will resonate well into the future. Our workspaces will become smarter and biophilic design will be a paradigm shift in that response, allowing us to perform better, be more connected and evolve further.
The main strategy is to bring the experience of the natural world into built spaces. It can be incorporated directly with elements such as water, plants, natural light, elements like wood and stone or even having your pets close by. Or it can be done indirectly by mimicking natural forms like botanical or organic shapes instead of straight lines or the use of natural colours as well as highlighting visual relationships, for example between light and shadow. These are all important biophilic design elements.
Implementing good biophilic design
Incorporating beautiful textural, natural elements like wood, natural fibres and stone into your space will provide a visual and emotional connection with nature and it adds an instant grounding effect. Studies have shown that timber, relaxes the autonomic nervous system, resulting in lowered stress responses.
Lushness = goodness
Find the right plants for your space and tastes. The amazing and helpful part here is biodiversity. Nature has been incredibly generous in her designs so there will be something that with some care, will suit all tastes and conditions. Plants give us a sense of being away, relaxed, serene, and simply existing.
Let there be light (& air)
Numerous studies have shown that natural light in workspaces improves satisfaction and productivity. Create a space that is warm and satisfying by wherever possible positioning your desk to take advantage of light and airflow. Natural light nurtures our bodies’ circadian processes allowing us to sleep more deeply and thrive in our waking hours.
Just add water
Having a beautiful view that looks out onto a natural body of water is out of reach for most. Using things like aquariums and water features in our workspaces can boost that biophilic connection. The soothing elements of water will bring stress relief and relaxation to your environment
Roll over Rover
Pets’ abilities to reduce stress, tension and feel more supported at work are conducive to better productivity. We are more likely to take regular and more meaningful mental breaks while our animals are present and in turn, all these things can reduce blood pressure and anxiety.