Everything You Need to Know About Biophilic Design in 5 Minutes

Everything You Need to Know About Biophilic Design in 5 Minutes

Biophilic design continues to dominate modern office design for many reasons. You’ve likely heard of the natural wonders of the world, things like Mount Everest, the Grand Canyon, and the Great Barrier Reef. If you’re like us, you’d love to see these things daily, but that isn’t always realistic. Still, there’s an answer to your problems and it’s called biophilic design. And no, as much as this type of design sounds like a strange diet, it’s actually a legitimate method of design that is making serious waves.

What is Biophilic Design?

We’ve mentioned biophilic design in our posts before, but we think Stephen R. Kellert, the author of “Biophilic Design: The Theory, Science, and Practice of Bringing Buildings to Life” said it best.

According to Kellert, biophilic design is “an approach that fosters beneficial contact between people and nature in modern buildings and landscapes.”

Building on that, this type of design looks to incorporate two things: organic and natural elements, and culture and ecology. The most popular elements include natural materials, natural light, vegetation, outdoor views, cultural symbols, and experiences (iconic landmarks and symbols – think Art Nouveau in Brussels), all of which are built into modern environments. Picture a large concrete office building teeming with thematic plants, natural colors, elements of the natural world, and ample natural light.

One of the big reasons why biophilic design continues to grow in popularity has to do with the health benefits it brings. We already know that there are tangible health benefits to adding plants into modern offices. The idea of a tiny cactus providing such an impact may seem funny, but plants really are one of the easiest ways to boost happiness and productivity in the workplace.

Think about it for a second.

Before humans evolved and started gathering in large cities, we connected and bonded with nature. We lived in small settlements, we hunted, and we mastered agriculture.

Urban sprawl is a modern problem. The rapid growth of the world’s largest cities has come at the cost of the natural life that used to exist in those areas. All of this sudden change over the span of only 50 years has made it difficult for our natural instincts, which were programmed for more than 100,000 years, to function. In terms of the modern workplace, this often has translated into unhappiness, stress, and other very real health problems.

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Biophilic Design as a Compromise

Major cities and offices aren’t going anywhere. Because of this, biophilic design is quickly becoming a solution to the problem. Large concrete buildings focusing on biophilia are a common sight these days. All of this is in an effort to bring the natural world back into the urban setting.

There are many ways for offices to take advantage of biophilia without breaking the budget. Nature depicting artwork, plants, healthy landscape colors, and even a diverse rooftop terrace are several ways a company can join the biophilic movement.

If you have ideas, bounce them off an interior design firm to see how they can be brought to life. Your ideas can easily turn into reality with the right design plan.

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6 Key Features of Biophilic Design

There are 6 main features to consider when it comes to biophilic design.

The Natural Environment

The natural environment focuses on features of the natural world that are incorporated into an office setting. Basic things like earthy colors, sunlight, plants, images of animals and nature.

Natural Shapes

Natural shapes are lines, shapes, and forms that occur in nature. Notable examples include arches and vaults, recreating rock shelves, water paths, and other things that naturally occur.

Natural Patterns

Similar to natural shapes, natural patterns deal with patterns and processes that occur in nature. This could be shown through the erosion of rock over time, the growth of plants, and through the use of rhythm and scale.

Natural Light

This is one of the easiest forms to understand. Sunlight is healthy and biophilic design puts an emphasis on light and space. Light helps merge the inside and outside using elements of warmth and different shapes.


You can’t talk about natural design and not include plants. This doesn’t mean you have to turn your office into a jungle. You can focus on real plants, imagery, or plant colors. The idea here is to create a relationship between the office and the natural elements it is incorporating.

The Human-Nature Relationship

The final element involves recreating the relationship between humans and nature. It’s about recreating a relationship that has existed for thousands of years. Biophilic design ties all of the previous elements together. By doing this, an office will focus on specific themes like order, safety, complexity, curiosity, mastery, control, affection, exploration, discovery, and awe. With themes like this in mind, it’s easy to combine the modern with the timeless.

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What the Research Says About Biophilic Design

You’d be hard pressed to find any research that suggests that having plants in your office is a bad thing. Sure, someone may hate your cactus or money tree (everyone has their reasons). Still, whether they want to admit it or not, they are receiving positive health benefits from those plants and natural elements in the office.

According to CIPHR and a list of compiled studies, they provide the following benefits:

The list could go on and on. What really matters is the fact that designing with natural elements in mind brings tangible health benefits to employees in a workplace. A few plants don’t only improve the look, but they clean the air, boost productivity, and reduce stress.

Key Takeaways

Biophilic design doesn’t have to be an impossible process. You don’t have to gut your entire office building in order to take advantage of this method of design. Whether you start small, by making strategic changes, or design from the ground up, biophilic design is extremely approachable and can easily be modified to fit the needs of your office.

If biophilic design interests you, we recommend you take a look at this video:

And if you have any questions at all, the Space Refinery team is here to help. Don’t hesitate to leave a comment, everyone deserves a little biophilia in their life.

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