Biophilic Design: How to incorporate plants into your office


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How to incorporate plants into your office interior

3 January 2023

Biophilic design is a concept used within the building industry to increase occupant connectivity to the natural environment through the use of direct nature, indirect nature, and space and place conditions.

Used at both the building and city-scale, it is argued that this idea has health, environmental, and economic benefits for building occupants and urban environments, with few drawbacks.

Although its name was coined in recent history, indicators of biophilic design have been seen in architecture from as far back as the Hanging Gardens of Babylon.



Contemporary daily life tends to see that we spend 90% of our time indoors.


Unlike biomimicry that sets out to completely mimic the natural world, biophilic design is set on provoking positive human-nature interactions.

To illustrate, while biomimicry could mimic the oceans, while beautiful, it doesn’t connect to our evolutionary environments and core reactions. Biophilic design replicates the comfort of nature that we neglect 90% of the time.



Nature appeals to our nature

Nature positively impacts our cognitive systems and is shown to improve our psychological and physiological well being.

If we pay attention to how we, as humans, have interacted with nature over the thousands of years.

For example, did you know that our brains are still mapped to react like the hunter gatherer species we have been for most of our existence on earth?

That means that we like to have prospect and refuge, for example, which is the ability to be protected while we see what is coming ahead.

Understandably, nature soothes us mentally and, by extension, biophilic designs does the same thing. It is shown to reduce stress and mental fatigue – nature provides mental restoration.



9 simple but innovative ideas to use biophilic design in your work environment

1. Fresh air

Our workplaces should allow us to have plenty of fresh air and daylight with the ability to open windows whenever possible and let fresh air in.

Through an open window we can also hear the sound of the rain, wind or birds singing, connecting us to the season and weather.


“Intuitively we map the time of day through seeing shadows and sunlight move across a room and we instinctively gather in sunny warm spots”


2. Light and shadow

There is mounting evidence that we are healthier when our circadian rhythms are balanced and having access to good daylight helps with that.

Intuitively we map the time of day through seeing shadows and sunlight move across a room and we instinctively gather in sunny warm spots. So think about spaces where you can sit in the sun or create cosy pockets.

Blur the boundary between inside and outside.



3. Bring the outside in

Too often our inside spaces are sterile and have no reference to nature in them. Bringing nature and natural elements into your SPACE can connect us to the natural place that we live within.

Plants, small indoor green walls and simple water fountains, even on the countertop, connect us to nature.

Natural materials like wood or stone offer us textural and pattern variations that replicates the sensory variation that we experience in nature.


4. Create prospect and refuge

Enclosed spaces where we can feel secure but at the same time look out into the distance help to restore our sense of safety and comfort.

Outside spaces that are surrounded on three sides and have a roof/shade provide the perfect refuge while allowing us to survey the landscape.



5. Natural shapes and forms

Today, most of our building materials are dominated by straight lines and right angles. It is expensive to build the curved shapes and forms that we find in waves, flowers and shells, even though we have a deep affinity for these shapes and their sense of order, complexity and beauty.

Not every workplace can bring in natural forms in the shape of the building, but patterns from nature can be used decoratively as motifs and be powerful in connecting us to the natural world.


6. Order and complexity

Nature has both order and complexity, while every leaf has a similar shape, they are all slightly different in size.

In our workplaces we can contract the order or straight lines and rectangles with complex shapes such as fractals and geometric patterns.



7. Spirit of place

With a global economy and the same materials and products available anywhere across the country, our homes have a sense of placelessness and are no longer rooted in the materials of the region or reflect the climate or culture.

Whether your location is in the desert, next to the oceans, prairie or grand forests understand the character of your place and use it as influence for your space.


8. Biomimicry

Biomimicry is the mimicking of nature’s processes and applying them to the design of the everyday things that we make.

Biomimicry has been used to create glues that mimic the grip that mussel shells have on rocks all the way through to using shark skin texture in swimsuit design. What can you observe in your ecosystem that can be used in your workspace design?


9. Spatial variability

Nature offers a variety of spatial experiences from meadows to forests to mountains and providing a variety of spaces in our homes can mimic the spatial variability found in nature and allow us to have spaces for a variety of moods and tasks.

Having a deeper connection to nature when you are inside will contribute to your sense of health and wellbeing but it starts with one thing – go outside and learn about your place. If you watch, listen and learn about your ecosystem, then you will be ready to bring nature’s lessons and beauty inside.


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