Anyone with a keen eye for design will have spotted the rise of the ‘Biophilia’ design trend. Plants; they are everywhere at the moment.
Planters of succulents, shelves of spider plants and ferns, indoor hanging plants in every room, even printed wallpaper with banana leaf or palm leaf patterns. However, there is much more to this trend than just aesthetics.
The Rise of Biophilia
The whole concept of Biophilia (The love of nature and living things) connects us to the wider world and our innate desire to protect and nurture that which feeds us and does us good, both physically and also emotionally.
One of the ‘founding fathers’ of the psychology behind biophilia was Edward O Wilson. He coined the term Biophilia and wrote the book of the same name, first published in 1984 and still widely available if you want a more in-depth read on the topic.
A synopsis of the subject and some of the research that has come out of it can be found here: Biophilia white paper. Another great source of information and brilliant blogs is the Human Spaces blog, and you can subscribe for free. In addition, a recent blog post of ours looked at The Three Pillars of Biophilic Design.
The Benefits of Biophilia
There are many benefits to having plant displays and other biophilic elements in your work or home interior. Biophilic elements refer to anything that evokes the sense of the beauty of the natural world, such as water features, fish tanks or plants.
You can also add natural analogues which are patterns and design styles that mimic nature – think honeycomb patterns, furnishings with curved edges even artificial planting or wood-effect flooring. It’s not so much about the what, it’s more about how the inclusion of biophilic elements make people feel.
Here are 5 benefits of Biophilic Design in the Workplace:
1. Live plants improve air-quality.
They do this by using carbon dioxide (bad for us) to produce oxygen (good for us). They also transpire through their leaves, making the air more humid, which is excellent for combating the problem of dry-air, a widely reported problem in air-conditioned offices.
Additionally, plants absorb VOCs (volatile organic compounds) such as chemicals that are widely used in domestic cleaning products, contained within some carpets and emitted from electronics. More about improving air-quality here.
2. Make you more creative and (as much as 15% more) productive.
A series of studies from Exeter University concluded that employees were 15% more productive when “lean” workplaces were filled with just a few houseplants, as employees who actively engage with their surroundings are more efficient and more creative workers.
3. Helps relieve stress and improve mental well-being.
Stress is a known cause of both mental health disorders and cardiovascular diseases. According to the World Health Organisation mental health and cardiovascular diseases are expected to the be the two prime contributing factors to illnesses worldwide by 2020.
Studies also show that our ability to directly access nature can alleviate feelings of stress. The millions of neural channels in our brain link to the human body’s nervous system. This system is comprised of two networks: the sympathetic and the parasympathetic systems. The sympathetic system stimulates the human body when cognitive function is needed. The parasympathetic system serves to relax the body and is used for internal processes such as digestion. When the body’s natural balance of sympathetic and parasympathetic is achieved, the body is in the ideal state of homeostasis.
But in chaotic and stressful environments, like a busy office, the body’s sympathetic system is highly engaged in a “fight-or-flight” mindset. Concurrently, the parasympathetic system is suppressed, disrupting our natural balance and resulting in energy drain and mental fatigue. This combination induces stress, frustration, irritability and distraction. In contrast, human interaction with nature provides an increase in sympathetic activity. This results in decreased stress and irritability and the increased ability to concentrate.
In Japan Shirin-Yoku (Forest Bathing), the practice of mindfully spending time in the forest, using all of your senses to appreciate nature, has been proven to combat stress, enhance mental wellness and bolster brain health.
4. Feel happier and healthier.
Not surprisingly, biophilic elements make us feel in a more positive frame of mind. Positive people have a positive impact on others, take better care of themselves and are healthier. Another point to consider here is that they are less likely to be off work sick, so if you are still on the fence about adding biophilic elements to your workspace, consider the impact it could have on reducing absenteeism in your office.
5. Attract and Retain the best talent.
Having a thoughtfully designed, attractive workspace, full of natural light and biophilic elements, shows who you are as an organisation. It also sends a powerful message about your social conscience and green-credibility and that you care about your colleagues. We spend a large amount of time at work, and whilst we are there, we want it to be a positive experience.
Want to add some biophilic elements to your workspace, retail space or venue? Contact us today.