We NEED nature.
Several studies have shown that on average we spend 90% of our time indoors, almost completely cutting exposure to the outdoors and nature out of our lives, which will carry a negative impact on our overall well-being.
Humans have a natural need to connect with the elements of nature; It makes us feel calm, happy, and safe. We need this connection with nature’s elements whether it is a direct experience (light, water, plants, natural ecosystems and landscapes, weather), or an indirect experience (images of nature, natural materials/colors, stimulating natural light/air, naturalistic shapes, forms).
This leads to the concept of biophilia and using biophilic design. Don’t worry if you are unfamiliar with these concepts, we will explain them in detail below.
SO WHAT IS IT?
The term biophilia is defined as “love of life”, first used by Erich Fromm to describe humans’ attraction to all that is alive and vital. A novel written by Edward O. Wilson in 1984, appropriately titled, ‘Biophilia’, discusses the biophilia hypothesis, suggesting that humans have an innate tendency to seek connections with nature and other living things.
Humans need to be connected in some way with nature. Whether it is through being outside in the fresh air, inside in a sunlit room with plants stationed near, or just by having designs that remind us of nature, lamps that resemble the sun’s light, or even artificial plants placed within sight. There is always a way to incorporate nature into your settings and the benefits provided are well worth it.
BIOPHILIC DESIGN IN THE WORKPLACE.
Most people will spend a lot of their life in the workplace, so why not try to create a workplace you are inspired by, enjoy, and one that may even keep you healthier while you are there. Nobody will be at their happiest and most efficient level in a workplace that is designed like the inside of a cardboard box; with no color, design, or personality. There are many ways to incorporate biophilia into the workplace without planting a tree farm or including a garden in the middle of the office.
According to an article found on Service Futures, a survey conducted by Human Spaces revealed that 47% percent of respondents have no natural light in their office space and 58% have no plants or greenery. This is an important fact because 33% of respondents said office design directly impacts whether they would work for the company. To make sure that you are not losing talented prospects, it is crucial to invest in the office space.
How To Incorporate Biophilic design?
Before renovating an office or building one from the ground up, think about design possibilities that could offer employees an outdoor view, either by adding more windows or moving desks/work spaces closer to current windows. This will provide employees with a view of the outdoors and will let in more natural sunlight.
Even if your current office doesn’t allow much natural sunlight to enter, and a renovation is not likely in the near future, there are still ways to achieve a biophilic design with your office lighting. Use various forms of lighting and ensure that every space is properly lit up. Use the lighting creatively and have fun with it. Utilize lights that have a nice natural glow and add to the overall design concept.
A well lit office can improve worker well-being and productivity. Workers in office spaces that are too dim commonly complain of eyestrain and headaches, but it is key to understand that everyone is different. The best idea is to have diversity in the different work zones; some that are really lit up, some that have full natural light, and some that are less lit up, to ensure that every type of worker is happy and healthy.
Another great option is to design the workplace with artificial plants/greenery. The best strategy here is to use real, living plants around the workplace, as they improve the overall air quality by absorbing the carbon dioxide from the air and producing oxygen. We realize though that this may end up being overwhelming in maintenance and costs, fortunately, there is an easy solution—artificial plants.
Biophilic design refers to creating the feeling of nature. It doesn’t specifically mean that nature itself must be present in the work environment, so artificial plants are a great way to bring the design in without the constant costs and maintenance. The benefits of having plants/artificial plants or greenery throughout the workplace include better overall well-being, nicer design, and increased productivity.
Another great way to bring the feel of nature into your workplace is by using wood grain in the design and overall architecture of the building. This design can be achieved by incorporating exposed wood beams, wood grain surface materials, and with the use of exposed wood tables, chairs, and shelves. This concept has been becoming more popular in recent years because of how elegant it can look and how it brings life to the office.
Wood design not only carries the comfort of nature, but the value of individuality as well, since every piece will be different in design with its own grain, grooves, and knots.
Other types of design can be used as well. Many people are using stone within their design to bring the same feeling in. Whether it is in the flooring, walls, stairs, or surface designs, using different types of stone will look amazing and protrude the natural feeling and uniqueness that employees will love.
IN THE FABRICS
The fabrics that cover your office furniture should help portray your company personality and subconsciously change your mood in a good way. With what seems like endless possibilities for the color and pattern of your fabrics, it is important to find the ones that work well together and for your office space. The patterns will help your office resemble the natural beauty and mood-changing power that nature has on us, which will boost the well-being and productivity of everyone around it.
Steelcase brands Coalesse and Designtex have co-created a beautiful arrangement of patterns, color palettes, and textiles that are fully inspired by nature and incorporate the principles of biophilia. It is important to know that collections like this one are carefully designed to work together and to bring authentic biophilic design with it. The colours, feel, and look of them are why they are so creative.
This article from Steelcase discusses the process of the partnership coming together and how the designs were created. Coalesse was already adding several new color options for their printed patterns and Designtex was excited to implement new technical applications for quilting, embroidering, woven pattern, and printing methods, so the partnership decision seemed obvious.
For the biophilic design process of their fabrics, Sara Balderi, design principal for Designtex says, “for this collection, we explored the algorithms, textures, colors, and shapes found in nature which is how we derived our patterns. For a long time, when people heard ‘direct connection to nature,’ they incorporated leaf or forest patterns. I think it’s really interesting to take it to the next level by looking at algorithms and mathematics. For example, we looked at rainwater droplets or the edge of a forest and found connections through the mathematical arrangement you can find embedded in the environment. Our brains are subconsciously connected to these things. It may not be as obvious, but it’s an interesting way to explore patterns in nature.”
Fabrics and patterns that have been created as carefully and as thoughtfully as these ensure that the desired effect is present. This is especially important in healthcare buildings, as their main goals are to keep people calm and make them feel safe. But it is also important for everyone to have because of the well-being and other benefits provided.
Biophilic design is not just another office trend that will come and go. The reason why is that it actually has proven benefits — for everyone. Employees want it because plants make the office healthier and the design improves well-being. Employers want it not only because it is healthy and improves well-being, but also because it is shown to boost productivity.
As we have seen, there are many ways to bring elements of nature into the workplace without using actual living plants (although living plants have both physical and emotional benefits). We can achieve this type of design using artificial greenery, exposed wood, natural sunlight/office lighting, using fabrics inspired by nature, and more.
With the rate of urbanization and people moving into cities constantly increasing, we are getting less and less exposure to the elements of nature. This makes it incredibly important for us to bring these elements back into our buildings and our lives any way we can.
Bring your office to life with these awesome biophilic design products!