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How to Incorporate Biophilic Design into your Home Office Space

It’s April and that can only mean one thing – spring is finally on the horizon and for that, we are eternally thankful. But March is a fickle month and it will be some time yet before we see the first green shoots of spring poking through the still thawing soil.

March 29, 2021

So, what can we do to bring those spring-like feelings of new growth and new beginnings into our space right now? Well, we’d like to introduce the concept of biophilic design – what it is, why it’s so important and how you can incorporate it into your home office space. To wrap up, we’ll share just a few of our favourite biophilia-friendly products to help get your creative juices flowing.

What is Biophilic Design?

The term ‘biophilia’ is a compound word comprised of the Latin terms for ‘bio’ (life) and ‘philia’ (love). Originally coined in the 1960s by German psychoanalyst Eric Fromm, it describes our innate tendency to seek connection with nature.

Core features of biophilia include:

  • Scattered, clustered, varied vegetation
  • Overlooking landscapes
  • Blurring the boundaries between the indoors and outdoors
  • Dynamic and diffuse light
  • Natural scents
  • Proximity to waterUse of natural and local materials
  • Shelter and privacy

Though the term originated almost 60 years ago, the concept of biophilic design didn’t really take hold until the early 2000s when designers and architects began to realize the importance of incorporating more natural elements into the urban and built environments. The influence of biophilic design can be seen in many office and commercial spaces throughout Toronto, such the Corus Quay building, completed in 2010 by Diamond Schmitt Architects.

Benefits of Biophilic Design

Implemented successfully, biophilic design can result in a vast array of physical, mental and behavioural benefits.

Physical

  • Enhanced physical fitness
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Increased comfort & satisfaction
  • Few illness symptoms
  • Improved overall health

Mental

  • Increased satisfaction & motivation
  • Less stress & anxiety
  • Improved creativity & problem solving

Behavioural

  • Better coping & mastery skills
  • Enhanced attention & concentration
  • Improved social interaction
  • Less hostility & aggression

Researchers from the UK and the Netherlands also found that workers in offices that incorporated greenery were 15% more productive that those in offices without plants.

The best part is that incorporating the principles of biophilia into your home office doesn’t have to be difficult, time consuming or even expensive, so taking the time out to incorporate even one of these solutions should be a breeze!

Simple Ways to Bring Biophilic Design into your Home Office


Plants

The presence of greenery can both reduce stress and enhance health, productivity, and performance. If possible, incorporate more than just one plant into your space – single plants don’t tend to have the same positive effects that connected groupings of greenery do. To keep your time investment to a minimum, pick-up some hardy, low-maintenance plants such as succulents, cacti, snake plants or ZZ plants.

Natural Light

Ever arrived at the office in December in total darkness, only to leave at 5pm in total darkness once again? Depressing, right? Having access to natural light is hugely important to our health and wellbeing. If possible, position your desk next to or in front of a large window – or even better, pick a room in your home with a view of trees, grass or another natural landscape to house your home office. If your office is in the basement, pick up a light therapy lamp for your desk that mimics natural light.

Natural Materials & Images of Nature


What if you live in the city and the view out your window is concrete, concrete and more concrete? Don’t worry, all is not lost – even just looking at images of natural landscapes and having access to natural materials can provide plenty of positive benefits. You might love the beach (or maybe the mountains are more your speed) – find one or a series of landscape images that bring you joy and hang them in your office space. Incorporating natural materials such as wood, stone, cotton, wool and leather into your office furnishings can also boost the benefits that nature provides.

Sound


If you can, open a window to listen to the sounds of nature as you work. If you live in an urban area or the weather doesn’t permit an open window, you can listen to whatever natural sound brings you the most calm – ocean waves, forest sounds, a crackling fire or babbling brook – on your laptop, phone or smart speaker such as Google Home or Alexa.

Colour


Biophilic design principles generally dictate that muted, natural tones are better than overly bright hues. Bright colours should be used sparingly and emphasize natural forms such as flowers, sunrises and sunsets, or rainbows.

Different colours can also evoke different feelings, so make use of colour theory to create a space that gives you what you need to feel the most happy and productive.

  • Blue elicits feelings of calmness and serenity; studies have also shown that people are more productive in blue rooms.
  • Green is often associated with nature and is thought to relieve stress and promote healing. It has also been shown to increase reading ability, and people who work in environments that incorporate the colour green even report fewer stomach aches!
  • Yellow is considered warm, bright, and energetic but can also be abrasive when overused, so it may be best to incorporate a less-is-more approach to this particular colour.
  • Red is often associated with excitement, power and dominance, though some people find it fun and playful. Studies show that wearing red or being exposed to it can result in increased heart rate, blood pressure and respiration rate. We would definitely recommend keeping the red elements to a minimum in a biophilia-friendly space!

Get Outside!

While this might seem like the most obvious solution, it can sometimes be the hardest to implement, especially when we get caught up in work-related tasks or it’s cold outside. Carve out some time before work or on your lunch hour to take a walk in your neighbourhood or to your nearest park. If you have kids or pets, it could be as simple as playing with them in backyard for 20 minutes – anything that gets you outside is going to have a positive effect on your mood and wellbeing and set you up for success in the rest of your work day.

Feeling Inspired Yet?

Now that you know what biophilic design is and how you can incorporate it into your space, we wanted to share just a few of our favourite biophilia-friendly pieces.

Hay Copenhague 10 Desk
Eames Aluminum Group Chair in MCL Leather

Create a veritable waterfall of greenery in your home office with one of our favourites, the Story Planter. Available in two sizes – this super-tall 9 piece version as well as a shorter 5-pieces, it also comes in a variety colours including a poppy, cheerful yellow, soothing sky blue and tomato red.

Nappula Planter

We love the distinctive curved, flowing shape of the Nappula planter from Finnish glass and ceramic brand Iittalla, available in two sizes and three colours: white, beige and forest green. A beautiful piece that can fit in with virtually any décor, it’s little surprise that this pot has become a modern Scandinavian classic.

Monstrous Planter

Go big or go home! The Monstrous Planter is handcrafted glazed earthenware and comes in three sizes and colours: white, black beech and saffron. Perfect for indoor trees like a Fiddle Leaf, Rubber Plant or Parlor Palm, the Monstrous Planter will help you incorporate some larger scale greenery into your home workspace.

We hope the concepts we’ve discussed in this post have given you some food for thought about how you can bring the outside into your office space and our product suggestions have gotten the ball rolling on the many ways you can easily incorporate biophilic design principles at home.

Resources:

The Practice of Biophilic Design

The Relative Benefits of Green Versus Lean Office Space: Three Field Experiments

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