Have you ever walked into a dim lit room with bright accent colors and natural materials? The feeling is not far from the one would have while walking into a garden or a flower shop. At that moment, it is striking how our imagination soars into action. Beautiful trees, corn fields, shimmering gardens, sweet-smelling flowers and green grasses have a way of invoking our innate love for nature.  This love for nature is known worldwide as biophilia.

Origin of the Biophilia Concept

Biophilia, first used by German social psychologist and sociologist Eric Fromm, means love (philia) of life or living systems (bio). Made popular by the American biologist, Edward O. Wilson in his book Biophilia (1984), the term biophilia is often seen as a psychological concept that encompasses not just attraction, but a connection that humans explore with flora, fauna, and life. Evolutionary discourse hypothetically suggests that human’s deep connection with nature is ingrained into our biology. That subconscious love we demonstrate to life, both animals and plants: care to young ones, nurturing domestic animals, preventing wild animals from extinction and keeping plants and flowers in our surroundings.

As the world battles with climate change and its environmental impact, there has been a leaning towards biophilic appreciation; hence, the term “Biophilic design” surfaces with increasing frequency. Studies have shown the impact a lack of connection with nature has on a human especially in terms of general well-being, productivity, and creativity.

How Biophilic Designs Impact Work Places

Biophilic designs which support the aesthetic inclusion of natural elements can elicit positive well-being. Research conducted on workers in Europe, Middle East and Africa revealed a number of great insights into the impact of biophilic designs on their well-being. For example, according to the report, 13% reported a higher well-being in office spaces with natural elements, such as greenery and sunlight.  Low job stress levels have also been attributed to these natural elements. Natural light, window views of trees, green space, views of lakes or ponds have been significantly linked to levels of happiness in the workplace.

Orange, red, yellow, green and other emphatic colors in office designs have shown to contribute to low-stress levels in offices.  These biophilic elements do not have to be real; artificial elements still create that same psychological feeling of an outdoor experience. Paintings of beautiful landscape and scenery have also proven to be able to corroborate this fact. Workers availability was found to also be a result of workplace design. Workplaces with a stronger biophilic setting implicitly demonstrate to workers that they are valued and supported and this inadvertently contributes to their well-being. This connection is not only restricted to conventional workplaces. Lower levels of anxiety and tension were found in patients in waiting rooms with walls painted with murals of mountains, sunset and grassy areas.

The Future of Biophilia and Biophilic Designs

Tech giants like Google and Facebook have overtime maintained top spots on the list of best workplaces to be in. Making an assessment of these workplaces, one can see how biophilia plays a pivotal role to how they are designed. Much investment is made in this area because of mounting evidence that biophilic designs affect employee productivity, and employee productivity, in part, translates to higher returns for the companies.

New research findings reveal that office worker in an environment with natural elements were 8% more productive. Studies conducted in countries including Spain, France, the Netherlands and Sweden demonstrated the impact colors had on employee productivity. Biophilic designs and their undeniable benefits have led to its rising popularity across various industries, from technology to healthcare.

Much attention is now being paid to the wellbeing and value of an employee with great emphasis on leveraging more on the impact of biophilic designs. At the moment, biophilia remains a frenzy in our society. Its influence continues to grow as it finds more use in newer industries.