Breathe Easy, Work Happy: Your Comprehensive Guide to Biophilic Office Design | Soul Spaces

Breathe Easy, Work Happy: Your Comprehensive Guide to Biophilic Office Design

Francel
Digital Content Manager

Updated: June 12th, 2024

Published: January 29, 2024

Imagine stepping into your office, not to sterile walls and dim lights, but to a space filled with greenery, natural textures, warm sunlight and calming features. This is the power of biophilic design, an approach that brings elements of nature indoors to create healthier, happier and more productive workspaces.

What is Biophilic Design?

Biophilia, coined by biologist Edward O. Wilson, refers to our inherent love and connection to nature. Biophilic design is the conscious application of this principle in the built environment, aiming to create spaces that enhance our physical and mental well-being by incorporating elements of the natural world.

Plants and natural finishes in office space

A Brief History of Biophilic Design

 

The concept of biophilic design gained traction in the early 20th century, with architects like Frank Lloyd Wright and Alvar Aalto advocating for integrating nature into their designs. However, it wasn’t until the 1980s, with the rise of environmental psychology, that the scientific evidence for biophilia’s benefits truly came to light. 

Pioneering researchers like Roger Ulrich and Stephen Kellert began exploring the impact of natural elements on human well-being in built environments. Their studies in environmental psychology revealed: exposure to natural elements triggers positive physiological and cognitive responses. Sunlight exposure increases serotonin production, boosting mood and alertness. The sight of greenery reduces stress hormones like cortisol, while the sound of babbling water induces relaxation and improves focus.

These findings provided a strong foundation for biophilic design, which gained significant momentum in the following decades. Today, it’s embraced by leading corporations and forward-thinking organisations worldwide, recognising its potential to enhance employee well-being, boost productivity and foster a more sustainable future.

 

The Benefits of Biophilic Design in the Office

 

So why should you consider implementing biophilic interior design elements in your workspace? As well as its aesthetic appeal, studies have shown that biophilic design can offer a wide range of benefits for employees, including:

  • Reduced stress and anxiety: Natural elements can have a calming effect on the nervous system, lowering stress hormones and promoting relaxation.
  • Improved mood and well-being: Exposure to nature can boost mood, creativity and cognitive function.
  • Increased productivity: Biophilic offices have been shown to lead to higher productivity and improved employee satisfaction.
  • Reduced absenteeism: Employees in biophilic offices tend to take fewer sick days.
  • Boosted Creativity and Innovation: Biophilic design can stimulate creativity and encourage new ideas by providing a visually stimulating and engaging environment that breaks away from the monotony of traditional office spaces.
  • Improved Physical Health: Biophilic design can have a positive impact on physical health as well. Natural light exposure helps regulate sleep-wake cycles, while plants in the workplace improve air quality by filtering out harmful toxins.

Implementing biophilic interior design elements to your workspace

To help you get started, here are the key principles to consider when implementing biophilic design in your office:

While you can introduce some basic elements right away, remember that balance and staying authentic are key to maximising the benefits. Think of these design principles as a foundation you can build upon, shaping them into something truly unique and reflective of your story and journey. 

Maximise Natural Light: Utilise natural light whenever possible by installing large windows, skylights and glazed partitions. This not only brightens the space but also provides essential Vitamin D, boosting mood and energy levels.

Incorporate Plants: Strategically place a variety of plants throughout the office. Plants add pops of colour and improve air quality, while research suggests they can even reduce noise levels.

Embrace Water Features: The calming sound of flowing water has a verified effect on stress reduction. Consider incorporating water features like fountains or waterfalls to emulate a tranquil oasis within the office space.

Utilise Natural Materials: Integrate natural materials like wood, stone and bamboo into the design. These materials create a sense of warmth and authenticity, fostering a connection to the outdoors. This can be done through the materials used on furniture down to the smaller details like services and screws. 

Biophilic Patterns and Textures: Incorporate organic shapes and textures that mimic nature into the design. This can be achieved through furniture, flooring, or even artwork, creating a sense of connection to the natural world. These are also subtle sources of inspiration that people will subconsciously draw ideas from. 

 

Designing and Building Biophilic Workspaces with SOUL

 

By embracing biophilic design, you’re not just creating a visually appealing space; you’re investing in the well-being and productivity of your employees.  In essence, you’re fostering a thriving work environment that benefits both your employees and your bottom line.

At Soul Spaces, we understand the power of biophilic design and are passionate about incorporating it every chance we get. For you inspiration, here are some of the ways we’ve brought nature into the office in our latest design and build projects! 

Bespoke branded moss wall for Give a Grad a Go Office break out zone with plants Office space with large windows and glazed folding doors Sustainable wood table and chairs in office Bespoke branded green wall for Nium's London office

Some Additional Tips for Cultivating a Biophilic Office from our Design Team:

Start Small

You don’t need a complete overhaul to embrace biophilic design! Begin by adding a few well-placed plants, a water feature, or bringing in a few pieces of furniture made of natural materials like wood or bamboo. 

Embrace Employee Feedback

 At the end of the day, improving the office is ultimately for your team. Gather input from your team to understand their preferences and desires for biophilic elements in the office!

Budget-Conscious Considerations

Biophilic design can be implemented on a variety of budgets. There are many affordable ways to incorporate nature into your office space, such as using low-maintenance plants, repurposing found objects and utilising natural light whenever possible. 

Seek Expert Guidance

If you’re unsure where to start, consider consulting with a biophilic design specialist. They can provide valuable advice and recommendations tailored to your specific needs and budget.

(We provide free workspace consultancy and can help you with this by the way!) 

 

Ready to Breathe Life into Your Office?

 

Biophilic design is not just a trend; it’s a science-backed approach to creating healthier and more productive spaces. By incorporating elements of nature into your office, you can create a space that your employees will love to work in and that will contribute to their overall well-being and success.

If you’d like to explore further, our office design and build team is here to help and would love to offer more insights on incorporating nature into your office space! 

Francel
Digital Content Manager

Francel is our workplace content, marketing and branding specialist. He has dedicated the past year to mastering the ins and outs of the office space industry, from search to design and build. Having worked with teams from global giants like BMW and MINI to dynamic startups like Let’s Do This, Francel has a unique understanding of how teams operate and how office spaces are utilised to foster success.

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