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2018 Trend: Beyond Biophilic Design

August 27, 2018 / by Tommy Twardowski

If you like to stay abreast of the latest trends in office design, you’ve probably heard or read about biophilic design. Perhaps you’ve heard the term but aren’t quite sure what it means. Maybe you’ve never heard the term “biophilic design” until now. For the under- or uninformed, biophilic design is one of the most popular office design trends to take hold in recent years. 

Designing an office to meet the needs of a business, as well as, ensuring that employees are going to be happy and productive is an art. Biophilic design can be a great way to bring positive vibes into the office, and if you ever decide to move or relocate your office, you can bring most of these natural elements with you to your new office space! 

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Read on and learn about biophilic design – as well as other emerging trends in office design.

What is Biophilic Design?

In short, biophilic design refers to bringing the outdoors indoors. An office interior that incorporates biophilic design includes elements found in nature (natural materials, lighting, vegetation, views, and even “natural geometries” such as curves and fractals – which are recurring patterns found in natural elements like snowflakes, eroded coastlines, and crystals).

Why is Biophilic Design So Popular?

By one estimate, humans spend 90% of our time in “built environments” including offices. As such these built environments are today’s version of the natural human habitat. Research has shown that incorporating natural elements like plants, natural lighting, and views of nature have tremendous positive effects on employees. According to a report by Human Spaces, offices with natural elements can increase productivity by 8% and wellbeing by 13%, and can even be a powerful recruiting tool. The organization surveyed employees about what they find important in a work environment. More than 30% of respondents said that the design of an office factored into whether or not they wanted to work for a company.

Another study conducted by researchers from four prominent universities in the United Kingdom compared “green versus lean” office spaces. The researchers compared productivity levels of two groups of office workers: in one group, employees’ offices were filled with plenty of plants and natural elements. In a second group, the offices were stripped of any plants or natural elements. Employees in the “green” offices reported a 15% increase in productivity over a 3-month period compared to the employees in the “lean” offices.

Beyond Biophilic: Other Exciting Trends in Office Design

Perhaps one reason why biophilic design is so popular is that it’s not terribly difficult to incorporate into an office. Adding plants; rearranging an office layout to give more employees access to natural lighting and outside views of nature; replacing plastic and metal elements with wood and stone elements; adding wool rugs and pillows; etc. are all relatively easy and inexpensive ways to bring nature into the office.

If you really want to make your office a place where employees thrive, consider pairing biophilic design principles with some other emerging trends.

  • Unconventional Spaces. A conventional office space is comprised of offices and cubicles. A nonconventional office space is designed to be flexible (furniture on wheels, portable walls and dividers, lounges with hammocks and bean bags, etc.
  • “Homey” Spaces. Many employees spend as much time (or more) at the office as they do at home. It stands to reason that the office should feel comfortable, homelike, and appealing. Elements like fireplaces, living-room-style furnishings, well-stocked kitchens, and even showers can make the workplace a more inviting place to spend time.
  • Brand-Centric Spaces. Office spaces that incorporate elements that seek to tell your company’s or brand’s story help to instill a sense of pride in employees. Identify the message you want your brand or company to stand for (i.e.: Do you strive to be trendy and hip? Sophisticated and modern? Precise and dependable?) and then use that as a common thread that’s interwoven across all aspects of your design.

If your company is looking to upgrade your office design, or if you’ve never really given any thought to office design, the good news is that even small changes can make a big difference in employees’ performance and satisfaction.

At Houston Installation Services, we pride ourselves with being leaders in the latest office furniture forms and functions, and you can read more of our office design blog posts here

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Topics: Office Design

About The Author

Tommy Twardowski

Tommy Twardowski

Tommy began his career in the office furniture installation business in 1978 and started his full-time career in 1981 with Houston Installation Services. Starting as a furniture installer, he developed a passion for the process of installation and learned to install all major manufacturers’ lines.