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Office interiors - What is biophilic design?

Biophilic design is the notion whereby allowing people to create and experience a connection with nature in building designs, can increase human productivity. Evidence of this concept being used as far back as the Hanging Gardens of Babylon exists. This form of interior design is something to consider when planning your workspace.

First officially introduced by German psychoanalyst Erich Fromm in the 1970s, biophilia is in Fromm’s words, the “passionate love of life and of all that is alive.” 

Thought to be due to a historic dependence on nature for survival and personal fulfilment, this psychological need is evident in current daily life. People travel all over the world to see beautiful natural sights such as waterfalls, mountains and forests or simply experience nature. 

More often than not, we are seeing this style appear in offices across the world, but what makes a design biophilic?


Having a well-lit space can create a feeling of comfort and satisfaction. It can also make a room or building appear larger or more open. This makes a space more enjoyable to be in, instead of feeling cramped or restricted to a small area. 

Using skylights or windows can help to bring in more natural light, the latter also being used for more airflow for increased comfort and less stuffy conditions.


These can be in the form of garden space or a small courtyard to relax in. It could even be something as simple as potted plants and desk plants. Larger spaces may allow for trees and bushes to be planted, seating areas to be built and seasonal colour to be added. 

The addition of scented plants will give extra sensory stimulation. This provides a direct relationship with the natural environment, installing a sense of connection to the natural world and relaxation.


Although this may be sometimes hard to attain, the addition of water to your workspace or home will create tranquil energy amongst your colleagues or family. This could be introduced in the form of a running water feature, the sound of which would lead to an increased sensory experience.

If you have a body of water nearby, open space to be able to view and appreciate the nature around you could be beneficial. Biophilic interior design does not always have to be a direct interaction with nature. It can also be indirect, such as photos of landscapes and animals, or using natural materials or colour schemes. 

Including these ideas when considering your office layout can help towards providing a calm and productive atmosphere. This is better utilised where more direct approaches might not be available or ideal for the space you are working with. 


Apart from being aesthetically pleasing, biophilic design has many added benefits.

Multiple studies have shown that people growing up in ‘greener’ environments have better physical health. They also suffer with a significantly lower amount of breathing issues, as well as improved mental health. These benefits can be replicated, even later in life, by bringing the outdoors in. This can be achieved either in physical form or by creating a notion of being surrounded by nature. 

Providing a positive and healthy environment in your home or office promotes productivity, and presents a more enjoyable place to be in.

Adding foliage and natural materials can also contribute to lowering the number of carbon emissions emitted and increase the overall natural feel in the area. Using vegetation to shade and shelter areas from the sun will reduce the amount of heat absorption. Damage is caused by UV rays, either to property or person.

If you are in need of more ideas, visit our Commercial Office Design page


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