Biophilic Design
Featured image Artist Cabin in Greeley, PA

Biophilic Design

“Biophilic design is designing for people as a biological organism, respecting the mind-body systems as indicators of health and well-being in the context of what is locally appropriate and responsive.”  (Browning 2014)


An Introduction

Biophilia is something that has been coming up in the world of interior design. So what exactly is this term? If you aren’t familiar with biophilia, it is our innate connection to nature. Whereas, our lives push us to spend more and more time indoors.  We still need to satisfy our biophilia. This is why interior designers have been working to incorporate the benefits of nature into work and living spaces. At Soltech Solutions, we are big proponents of adding living plants to the design of interiors. The benefits are not only visual, they can improve productivity, health, and general well-being.


Design Impacts Lives

The American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) has pioneered an initiative to improve work spaces. There research provides ample evidence for higher employee satisfaction due to improvements in mental and physical health, fostered collaboration and a better support system. These all stem from a redesigned work space! Some of the areas they seek to improve are air quality, lighting, acoustics and spatial quality.

Notably, the improvement of air quality did result from changes in design, ventilation and better air purification. Another part of this improvement was due to the addition of plants in the office. Co2 levels were found to be 2.5 times less than before. (ASID 2017)

The CEO of ASID, Randy Fiser, is a great proponent for the idea that design can improve livelihoods.

Photo by Steelcase Inc.



Biophilic Design Experts

When looking for experts in biophilic design we recommend Terrapin Bright Green. They publish reports on subject matter related to biophilia and biophilic design. They also offer consulting services. Their role is important because they highlight environmental impact and sustainability practices.


Where Plants Come in

Not only do plants improve air quality, they also offer aesthetic appeal. The value of an attractive living and work space should not go unnoticed. When we like the environment that we are in we feel more comfortable. In addition to comfort, we are more productive. That’s right; adding plants to the office can actually increase efficiency. Returning to the Design Impacts Lives study, employee absenteeism is shown to decrease and employee retention is shown to increase with biophilic design. (ASID 2017) This is because employees like the space they are working in.

Terrapin defines the attractiveness of plants as visual connection with nature. (Browning 2014)  This is a pattern of biophilic design focused on making features of nature visible by using them in design as additives or focal points. The goal is to make the indoors feel like the outdoors.


Where Lighting Comes in

Another pattern of biophilic design is dynamic and diffuse light. (Browning 2014) This refers to how light and shadow appears similarly to natural lighting patterns. This can be achieved through the placement of windows, skylights and artificial lighting.

This design is useful because it maintains the circadian rhythm, our wake and sleep cycle in response to light. Since work and living spaces are the places where individuals spend most of there time it is important to maintain this rhythm.

Lighting also can be used to highlight features of design. If someone wants to highlight living plants, they could use accent lighting to do so. If there is no natural lighting available for the plant to photosynthesize then specialty lighting is required. Grow lights are a good option to accent plants and provide them with the light they need to survive.


Conclusion

Human inspiration from nature has led to many beautiful and innovative man-made creations. It is about time we give homage to the earth by being more environmentally friendly through better sustainability practices. Designing interiors in a biophilic manner is one way of doing so. This also benefits our health, satisfaction and productivity.


References

American Society Interior Designers “Pre/Post Occupancy Analysis,” 2017

Terrapin Bright Green, LLC. “14 Patterns of Biophilic Design : Improving Health & Well-Being in the Built Environment,” 2014

 

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