Many companies are beginning to incorporate biophilic design into the architecture and interior design of their offices. Biophilic design integrates natural elements such as plants, wood, stone and water into a setting to satisfy a deep human need for contact with nature.[1]

Architects, facilities managers and company executives have recognized that interior design elements can have a significant impact on employee productivity and performance. Employers now understand that exposure to natural materials and light are beneficial to their employees’ physical and mental health, morale and productivity.

As workers spend more time in built environments, office spaces that incorporate biophilic design elements relieve stress and enhance creativity. Biophilic work environments are even viewed as helpful in attracting and retaining talent.[2]

Some of the ways companies are incorporating biophilic design elements into the workplace include the following:

  • Using plants in interior atriums as “living walls” and in groupings in open floor plans. In addition to creating a lush, peaceful setting, plants remove carbon dioxide and produce oxygen. Plants can refresh stale office air and filter out volatile organic compounds (VOC) often found as byproducts of office furnishings.[3]
  • Bringing the natural world to building facades, reception areas, conference and meeting rooms, cafeterias and gyms with water, stone and wood elements. Granite and marble are used for countertops and flooring. Sustainable woods such as bamboo are featured in floorings, furniture and wall coverings.
  • Flooding workspaces with natural light from skylights and full length windows. Natural light and high ceilings can make an office feel more spacious and open, which reduces workers’ stress levels.
  • Developing forms and patterns reminiscent of nature, such as window treatments or wall coverings that resemble vines or trees, to provide subtle biophilic design benefits.
  • Enhancing reception areas, conference rooms, cafeterias and workstations with furniture made from natural materials such as cotton canvas, linen, leather and wood.
  • Creating large-scale murals of natural scenes — waterfalls, mountains, lakes and beaches — which can reduce stress by transforming an enclosed space such as a conference room.
  • Prominently figuring natural colors in biophilic office design. “Greenery”, a yellow-green shade, is the Pantone 2017 Color of the Year. Pantone notes “the fortifying attributes of Greenery signal individuals to take a deep breath, oxygenate and reinvigorate.”[4]

[1] “Biophilic Design: The Architecture of Life,” a documentary by Stephen R. Kellert and Bill Finnegan. Video and viewing guide available at: http://www.biophilicdesign.net/

[2] “Biophilic Design: The Architecture of Life,” a documentary by Stephen R. Kellert and Bill Finnegan. Video and viewing guide available at: http://www.biophilicdesign.net/

[3] “Why Plants are a Must for Your Office,” by Laura Lucas, Fuze Interiors blog, 2017. Available at: http://fuzeinteriors.co.nz/why-plants-are-a-must-for-your-office/

[4] “Pantone Unveils Color of the Year 2017: PANTONE 15-0343 Greenery,” press release issued by the Pantone Color Institute, Dec. 8, 2016. Available at: https://www.pantone.com/press-release-pantone-unveils-color-of-the-year-2017-pantone-15-0343-greenery

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