A Case of Biophilia

“Humans possess an innate tendency to seek connections with nature and other forms of life.” – Edward O. Wilson

I have a severe case of Biophilia and I don’t care who knows! Don’t worry, it is a positive chronic condition. It means the love of life and the living world.  Many people share this philia, are you one too?

I simply feel better when connected with nature, whether going for a long walk on the trails with my dog in the woods, a stroll on the beach, gardening or bird-watching in my yard. Even a spin class feels less painful when the doors are opened to reveal a fantastic view of the ocean and sunrise. Nothing beats the feeling of the warm sun, the sounds of the wind through the trees, birds singing or waves crashing on shore, the smell of the ocean or flowers in bloom. The beauty all around us amazes me and promotes feelings of well-being.

Many studies have shown the positive benefits of the incorporation of nature with in design. Some of these include: fewer health issues, healing of body and soul, enhanced recovery from illness, less stress, improved cognitive function, creativity and more productivity. Plus, it just makes us feel better to connect to nature. Adversely, deprivation of nature can affect us as well.  Increased carbon dioxide levels can negatively affect concentration and productivity. Without windows or views of nature, and only the use of artificial air and light, you won’t want to stay any place very long!  We become sensory deprived.

In Edward O. Wilson’s book “Biophilia” he defines it as, “The innate tendency (in human beings) to focus on life and lifelike process. Beauty is our word for the perfection of those qualities of environment that have contributed the most to human survival.” Wilson is a Pulitzer Prize author, and one of America’s leading evolutionary biologists.

No need for tree hugging or prolonged hikes to gain all these great benefits – but still highly recommended.  All we need to do is “bring the outdoors in” to our homes and offices.  Although many of us work or live in the city, there are ways to incorporate nature into our everyday lives.  Great architects and designers intrinsically keep this in mind while creating good habitats for people. By incorporating Biophilic Design into our interiors we can help reduce many harmful issues.  Plants can positively affect air quality by removing toxic chemicals in the air, reducing carbon dioxide and humidity levels.  They can even help cure sick building syndrome.  Other health benefits of biophilic design include reducing ambient noise, improved conflict resolution, and reduced absenteeism.

There are a multitude of ways we can bring nature inside. In “Biophilic Design” a book by Stephen Kellert, a social ecologist, he describes Biophilia, “The innate human affinity for nature.  It is an emphasis on the overall setting, not an isolated occurrence of nature.”

  • Simply add a few containers of live plants in your home or office; or, get elaborate and create a living wall
  • Incorporate windows with exterior views of trees and water, and improve the availability of natural sunlight and ventilation as much as possible.
  • Include natural colors, textures and materials; such as water, wood and stone into a space.  Doing so can help us better connect to the beauty of our natural world.

Sustainability, or the impact people have on the environment, is such a crucial topic. We don’t typically think about the inverse, but what about the importance the environment has on us? This equally important topic greatly impacts our health and well-being.

If you know me, you know that I am not a big fan of winter. I am saddened by the shorter days, decreased daylight, cold temperatures and lack of anything blooming. We all spend so much of our time inside working and living, especially at this time of year. My advice to everyone is to open the shades, crack the windows, add a bit of Greenery (both the color and plants) and get outside and enjoy the natural beauty when the weather permits.

This year my New Year’s resolution is to be a proponent of Biophilia. How can I improve the well-being of the people in the spaces I design? Biophilia all the way! It is one the essential design elements that must be considered while meeting our client’s needs. Design nature inside, to meet people’s needs to connect with the outside. We must design with nature in mind to create more efficient, healthy, beautiful spaces where people want to live, to work, and to learn.  So, once again the diet will have to wait for now at least.

biophilia-product-collage

1. How appropriate that Pantone’s color of the year for 2017 is Greenery! This beautiful shade of green is fresh and spring like. Greenery and similar shades promote our connection to our environment.

2. Incorporate office planters to divide space in the workplace, Magnusun Group, check out the great video on their website.

3. Nature inspired carpet tiles bring the outside in, Interface

4. Interior and exterior living walls make a bold statement , GSky Green Walls  installed at AIS, Leominster MA

5. Ceiling sky designs/luminous sky ceiling can put patients at ease, Sky Factory

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Bringing the outdoors in at Placester, one of the BBJ’s “Best Places to Work 2016”.
la-showroom-dick-haworth-welcome-table
Living wall featured at the Dick Haworth Welcome Center, Haworth Showroom Los Angeles

 

kathytAbout the Author:
Kathy is a project designer at Environments at Work. With over 25 years of contract furniture design experience, her creativity, problem solving ability and expertise allow her to consistently exceed her clients’ expectations. Kathy is a valuable member of our design team. In her “off hours”, she loves taking walks with Sophie, her lovable pooch!

Related Articles:

A new look for the ‘L.A. Law’ building includes ‘courtyards in the sky’ / LA Times

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