Biophilic design. It's the talk-of-town in the workplace wellness biz at the moment, after 'mindfulness' becoming background noise in it's place. Why? Because we are spending more hours at work than anywhere else, and our historical connection with nature is becoming, well, historic.
To be clear, biophilic design doesn't just mean putting plants in every corner to purify the air, setting up shop outside, or tracking in mud on your shoes on a rainy day; it's also about bringing the essence of the outdoors into clear sight.
Biophilia was introduced and popularised way back in 1984, defined by E.O. Wilson as “the urge to affiliate with other forms of life”. It wasn’t until 2014 however, when a paper was published in the USA proclaiming the benefits of building nature into the framework of our office environment. It has enabled us to enrich design opportunities, such as fabrics and landscaping, and focus on rebuilding what technology has tended to make us forget. Globally, doctors are even starting to diagnose the next generation with ‘nature deficit disorder’ – a misalignment with the outdoors that will cause health issues as they progress in life such as obesity, physical and psychological health disorders.
Who would have thought that nature was so important to our well-being?
With that being said, the team at Balance Interiors has come up with some great ideas to get this trend on track in your office so you can reap the rewards:
The obvious choice. According to CIPHR, having plants in the office can reduce stress, increase productivity, reduce “sick building syndrome” and sickness by up to 25% (including fatigue, concentration, eye and ear irritation), make workplaces more attractive to current employees and potential job applicants, clean the air, help reduce noise levels, and boost creativity. If you’re looking for a feature wall, or even some potted plants for the office; we’ve got your back! Part of our 2019 initiative is to introduce a more biophilic edge to our offering, to continually push the edge of creating more engaged, aspirational workplaces around Australia.
2) Textile Design.
If potted plants aren't going to flourish in your office, you can try bringing the elements indoors through nature based textile designs and colours. Couch coverings, cushions, rugs, re-upholstery of office chairs, or even wall tapestries that feature plants, water, stone or earth are an easy go to, that don't require any effort past their purchase. This approach encourages us to visualise the outdoors, even if we can’t get our there and experience the healing power of nature. If you’re looking for some local talent to bring into the workplace, check out Nicola Cerini.
“My work is about reintroducing the rhythms of nature into an urbanised space and creating new human stories by bringing inspiration, reflection and fabrication together to imagine a new reality.”- Nicola Cerini.
3) Stone Work.
Biophilia isn’t JUST about plants, but also the introduction of earth elements into a work environment, through crafty stone work, feature walls, statues, stools, flooring, workbenches, kitchen tops, bench seats, or even as a marble basin in the bathroom.
4) Himilayan Salt Lamps.
You’ve surely seen them in home ware stores, but the thought of actually having one sitting at your desk seems a little daft. Want to know why this is so on trend? According to US wellness hub, Mind Body Green, salt lamps can detoxify your work space by pulling in pollutants and contaminants from your surrounds, leaving your air cleaner to breath. They also release negative ions like those found in nature, mimicking it’s unprecedented ability to heal and lift your spirits without stepping outside.
According to a recent article by architecture and design, wood in the workplace can make us feel better physically and physiologically. Chris Philpot, 'Make it Wood' Campaign Manager at Planet Ark suggests “an increasing body of research is beginning to show that being surrounded by wood at home, work or school has positive effects on the body, the brain and the environment and can even shorten hospital stays through reduced recovery times,” He goes onto explain:
“The feelings of natural warmth and comfort that wood elicits in people has the effect of lowering blood pressure and heart rates, reducing stress and anxiety and increasing positive social interactions. Wood products within a room have also been shown to improve indoor air quality by moderating humidity.”
6) Natural Light.
As office workers, we often leave the house in the dark, and arrive home the same way. We spend most of our day inside, and if we’re lucky, we can catch a glimpse of daylight from a window in our near sight. Although this can’t easily be changed in an established business, you can consider skylights or swapping out fluorescent lights that are harsh on the body and mind, and introduce more mentally stimulating options that reduce headaches, eye strain and associated illness. At Balance Interiors, we have a large range of lighting and virtual lighting solutions, including desk lamps that offer a 10 stage setting to suit any environment or time of day.
Air purifiers and diffusers are becoming common place, with a large array of scents on the market to suit any goal. Happiness, energy, focus, balance… these are just some of the titles that pop out at local retailer ‘Perfect Potion’ for those who want to bring a new scent to the office after clearing the air.
8) Outdoor Areas.
While most of us work indoors 40 hours per week, we DO all get lunch breaks that legally allow us to venture out right? That means instead of eating at your desk, straining your eyes over social media and your ever-growing ‘to do’ list, you can head outside with a colleague for a lap or two around the block, have a picnic in the nearest park, or if you’re lucky, the rooftop bar shrouded in shrubbery. Little win.
9) Textile Manufacture.
These don’t cease at outdoor imagery, textile manufacture delves deeper into the products used to actually weave fabrics that cover your furnishings. Cotton, at the very least, is a biophilic element creating beautiful materials, which can be interwoven with technological advancements to create more durable fabrics as required. However, WGSN reported in a recent article, that some companies are now taking earthly elements like algae, and spinning them into yarns that will later come to cover your indoor office furniture. How do you feel about that? If this isn’t one of the best elemental blends of biophilic design, I don’t know what is. The only question left though, is what’s next?
If you’re looking for a productivity booster for your office that beats Red Bull, give us a call on (03) 9761 4555 or email our specialists at firstname.lastname@example.org and as us what natural materials we have to suit your space.
Wishes in wellness,
The Balance Team