interiors

What is Biophilia? What It Means & Why It Matters

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As the world becomes increasingly urbanized, lifestyle convenience and stimuli typically increase while access to nature and green spaces decrease.

Biophilia and biophilic design are in this sense a thoroughly modern response to that disconnect from nature although, as you’ll discover, it is one informed by our meta history, having evolved as a species in relative harmony with nature over hundreds of thousands of years.

What is Biophilia?

We define biophilia as the human love of or need for a close connection with nature and other forms of life. When applied to modern lifestyles, ‘biophilic living’ resembles less a primal, hunter-gatherer lifestyle and is rather about the respectful integration of nature into our home, offices, gyms, diet, beauty products, transport choices and more.

Why Does Biophilia Matter?

Wherever health, wellness, and community are at stake, biophilia has a genuine contribution to make, partly to improve the lives of the people involved but also as a way to protect the planet.

Biophilia & The Triple Bottom Line

Biophilia is a Triple Bottom Line concept in this sense, as it accounts not just for People and Planet but also for Profit, which explains why it has been adopted around the world by some of the most valuable companies in existence.

Amazon, Google, and Apple have all tapped into the power of biophilic design recently for their office interiors, so what lies behind the shift to such botanical work spaces?

Clean Living

Plants convert CO2 back to oxygen as we know but recent studies by institutes such as NASA show that plants also purify the indoor air for us.

Within interiors, this means filtering out harmful chemicals, such as formaldehyde, benzyne, ammonia—to name a few— from off-gassing furniture, paint, building materials, and pollutants that track in from the outside world.

NB: We recommend going big on such plants in each room, around 6-8 per regular user if possible and then supplement that with an air purifier from Dyson, that’s how we do things anyway.

Wellbeing

We are bombarded daily with endless stimulants in bustling urban areas—especially in the era of endless technology. Interiors and exteriors that utilize biophilic design create spaces where such stimuli can be set aside for a dose of Vitamin Nature that will recharge our internal batteries and, as a result, improve concentration, productivity and creativity.

biofilico recharge room green biophilia nature

Our Biofilico green recharge rooms and office interiors are designed specifically for this purpose in fact. When we integrate movement and activity into the mix as well, we end up with a Biofit gym’s ‘special sauce’ - double the wellness benefits basically!

Biophilia & Tribal Community

Not only does biophilia hold the key to connecting with nature in unnatural settings, it also creates opportunities for greater sense of connection between groups of individuals and nature, for example through the creation of communal gardens, green spaces in schools, or shared workspaces like Second Home in Lisbon.

The fundamental insight here is again informed by ancestral health principles that clearly show humans to be tribal animals, originally operating in groups of 150-250 people.

In conclusion, biophilic living is an effective way to counteract against some of the negative effects of urban living and by embracing this concept, we can improve quality of life, health and well-being whilst improving consciousness of our connection to the planet around us.

Related reads from Biofit & Biofilico:

5 Best Examples of Biophilic Design

10 Ways to Add Biophilic Design to Your Home, Office, or Gym

Air Purifying Plants in Biophilic Interiors

10 ways to add biophilic design to your home, office, or gym (part 2)

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If you want your interior to truly look and feel its best, incorporating biophilic design elements is a tried-and-true method to add not just soul but wellness benefits to an interior.

By implementing a few of these key biophilic design strategies when designing your home, office, or gym you can create a space that prioritizes personal well-being—and looks aesthetically pleasing while doing so - while also respecting the planet. Here’s how:

Harness Nature’s Aromas

We discussed appealing to multiple senses in 10 Ways to Add Biophilic Design to Your Home, Office, or Gym (Part 1), and this should undoubtedly extend to scent too.

Incorporating certain aromas into a space is a simple way to extend the user experience and influence not just the tone of the room visually but also how its users feel whilst in it.

Forget synthetic fragrances though, we keep it clean with organic essential oils such as pine, cedar or lavender, preferably diffused into the air for 30-60 mins straight. This is especially beneficial first thing in the morning and last thing at night, while taking a relaxing bath or while concentrating on a writing or work task.

Purify the Indoor Air

Urban living comes with its benefits, sure but one of the inarguable downfalls is the reduced air quality, especially in certain cities such as Barcelona for example where the municipality struggles to keep pace.

Keep lungs happy and healthy by deploying an air purifier—preferably one with a HEPA filter. Dyson Air Cool is our model of choice for our bedroom in Casa Biofilico for example.

This helps restore air to its natural state by removing pollutants that off gas from furniture or, more likely, drift in from the streets outside. Incorporating a few plants can also assist with this goal although you’ll need to go big on quantities and choose the right species, and even then we still recommend using an air purifier. Take no prisoners on this front!

Go Organic on your Materials

Using organic material can lessen the presence of harmful chemicals that are regularly found in building materials and furniture—think benzene, formaldehyde, and trichloroethylene. Yes, this is a thing.

While plants and purifiers are a great method to filter the pollutants that get in, going organic is a preventative measure that will help ensure their presence is minimal from the get-go. Rather like taking your shoes off before entering a home so as not to bring in the dirt from outside. Joined-up thinking is the way to win this battle.

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A Natural Neutral Palette

The color scheme is arguably one of the biggest influencers of the mood that an interior elicits. While bright tones can add energy, neutrals will help any commercial or residential room feel grounded in nature.

Try opting for colors that you often see in the wilderness, like browns, beiges, and greens. Still looking for a pop of bright color? Try a dash of sunshine yellow a bright sky blue.

Welcome ‘Wabi-Sabi’

Nature is never about perfection, so why should your interior design be? Harness the intrigue and natural beauty that imperfection can bring and integrate pieces into your design that have variations in the finish or maybe even a couple of chips or cracks.

Wabi-Sabi a Japanese concept common among vintage and handmade products, so look for furniture, crockery sets, and pottery with such ‘imperfections’.

These actionable, biophilic design strategies can help propel any home, office, or gym design in the right direction. Whether you implement a few or all 10, both your interior and health will thank you!

Read 5 more strategies in Biophilic Design Guide (Part1)



Indoor Air Quality in Gyms & Wellness Facilities

 
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Biophilic design as a unique selling point

When you walk into a green wellness space, gym, yoga studio or BJJ academy, there is an immediate visual impact from the nature-inspired interiors that stands in marked contrast to most such interiors,. While this can be a unique point of differentiation, the real benefits of such eco-friendly interior design choices go far beyond what the eye can see…

Air Quality & Biophilia

When it comes to indoor air quality, nature-inspired interiors are quite literally a breath of fresh air. Why so? Like so many of today’s man-made environments, traditional gyms are designed with scant concern for the provenance or potential toxicity of the materials used in the fit-out. These chemicals are known as indoor air pollutants (IAPs) and they can have a negative effect on gym-goers’ health.

Indoor air pollutants (IAPs) exceed government limits

In a 2014 study, researchers at the University of Lisbon found that a number of local fitness centres had levels of CO2 and VOC that exceeded limits set by Portuguese legislation.[4] Health risks from IAPs may also be magnified during exercise due to deeper breathing patterns.[5] The cruel irony of course is that health centres and gyms are intended to be bastions of wellbeing.

biofit gym protocols

A biophilic gym heads off many of these issues at the pass thanks to its design protocols and then implements a series of ongoing operational procedures to ensure similar standards of healthy air quality are maintained over the long term. Here is our take on it:

Volatile organic compounds (VOCs)

VOCs are linked to cancer and organ damage. They come from building materials, gym equipment, alcohol-based hand sanitizer and cleaning agents.[1] Biofit gyms avoid VOCs through the use of non-toxic paint; organic materials such as cork panels and eco flooring made of sustainable cork and eco-rubber’; eco cleaning materials and the use of sustainably minded gym equipment suppliers.

Carbon dioxide (CO2)

Human breath is the main source of CO2 indoors.  CO2 levels correspond with the rate of outside air supply; the more CO2, the more “stale” the air feels.[2]  In spaces that have a high concentration of sweating human bodies therefore, ventilation and air flow are fundamental. Think of a spinning or hot yoga studio for example. Biofit gyms use NASA approved air-purifying plants as a way to regulate CO2 levels combined with air-purifiers, tackling the problem from two sides and then monitoring the results on a daily basis.

Microscopic & biological air particles

Some tiny particles in the air are linked to cancer, cardiovascular and respiratory disease.[3] Sources of these particles include traffic fumes, cigarette smoke and dust. Bacteria, mould and pollen meanwhile can trigger asthmatic and allergy attacks.[1] Biofit gyms have strict daily cleaning protocols as well as air-purifying strategies to reduce airborne pollens and dust, outdoor shoes are an under-the-radar source of such particles so our gyms recommend barefoot training whenever possible.

the problem with Fitness facilities

In gyms, martial arts academies and yoga studios, gathering large groups of people in relatively small spaces is par for the course. Unfortunately, this is bad news for indoor air quality. While classes are in session, accumulated dust can be thrown up into the air while heavy breathing inevitably adds extra carbon dioxide to the air. In many instances, ventilation simply cannot keep up.  

Green design: A natural solution

High quality air is an inherent quality of biophilic spaces, which, by definition, are intended to replicate an environment that is as close to the great outdoors as possible, including air purity. On this basis, a well-designed organic gym could house the freshest pocket of air in a city block.

To minimise indoor air pollutants, Biofit’s sustainable gym designs include:

  • Mindful selection of materials

  • Temperature and humidity control to minimise bacterial growth

  • Air purifying plants

  • High ceilings

  • Small to medium-size class sizes

  • Appropriate HVAC system

  • Low-tech or manually powered gym machinery

  • Smoking ban

  • Eco-friendly cleaning agents

  • Easy-to-clean surfaces

  • Non-VOC paint on the walls

To learn more about our eco-friendly, nature-inspired gym design services, please contact us at info @ biofit . io

References

[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5707925/

[2] https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/ad30/328938f3843eace78ffc672851f956389817.pdf

[3] https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/ambient-(outdoor)-air-quality-and-health

[4] http://tarjomefa.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/7873-English-TarjomeFa.pdf

[5] https://bjsm.bmj.com/content/35/4/214

 

office recharge rooms & biophilia

 
office recharge rooms & biophilia

workplace recharge rooms - why are they useful?

In an era filled with high stress jobs and always on tech fatigue, recharge rooms are a growing trend in workplace wellness programs. Whether presented as somewhere for stretching and yoga, a quiet room for focused bursts of concentration and productivity, as a chill-out meditation space or even a games area, recharge rooms are somewhere for workers to — you guessed it—recharge their batteries during the workday.  

what are the benefits of a wellness room?

It may seem like an overly generous move by an employer to provide this kind of a facility for employee use during work hours but there is a lot more to it than just helping staff top up on their nightly sleep quota... Companies themselves can benefit from them just as much as the employees do. 

When used for brainstorming sessions for example, these rooms can boost creativity, mental clarity and overall productivity (more on the ‘how’ below). This makes them effective tools not just for forward-thinking HR departments looking to attract / retain top talent in a competitive marketplace (think tech start-ups for example) but also for Executives looking to optimize their team’s output and help individuals find their flow state in what is increasingly likely to be an open-plan office with limited privacy.

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biophilic design & office green rooms

Replicating the body’s circadian rhythm with smart lighting solutions means these rooms can be pre-programmed each season to replicate the effects of sunlight in the mornings, energizing blue-white light in the middle of the day and softer amber tones later on.

Air-purifying plants combined with dedicated air purifiers ensure improved indoor air quality (IAQ) to reduce air-borne particle counts and remove other pollutants, helping to reduce allergies and promote cognitive function at the same time.

Botanical wallpapers, artworks and nature murals can be used to bring the outside world in, replicating the effect of being outside in a natural landscape even if the office is located in a dense urban setting with limited gardens or parks nearby.

Organic aromatherapy oils such as pine and rosemary can add an extra sensory dimension to the experience whilst also affecting mood and concentration levels. Advanced functional nootropics can also be added to a diffuser now, representing another level in organic biohacking.

the urgent need for recharge rooms

While stress and mental health disorders seem to be more abundant than ever, these recharge rooms are a modern tool to help combat what is a decidedly 21st century problem. With a plethora of benefits for both employee and business, there is a recharge room to fit just about every budget, room size and corporate culture.

To discuss how we can help design one of these spaces for your office or home, simply email us at design @ biofilico . com

 

Biophilic Design: Botanical Wallpapers & Nature Murals

 
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More research than ever suggests that a regular connection to nature is of tangible psychological and physical health benefit yet 21st century urban lifestyles mean securing a regular dose of ‘vitamin nature’ has become a genuine challenge for many.

Nature-inspired biophilic design aims to remedy this disconnection by introducing nature back into interiors and the built environment through elements such as colour, patterns, textures and materials.

An example of this functional health approach to design is the use of wallpapers with botanical motifs and nature wall murals, read on for our take on why they work. 

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Where and Why to use a Biophilic Wall

Whether you are looking to create calm in a waiting room, need a low-cost way to inject a huge splash of nature into your home, or want an office that promotes both health and productivity, nature-inspired wallpaper and murals are a cost-efficient solution. They’re also fairly easy to install, long-lasting, and require zero maintenance, making them especially useful for underground spaces with limited or no natural light to support plant life.

Health Benefits of Biophilic Wallpapers and Murals

Wallpapers and murals can be a great way to infuse a room with color, create a focal point, or change a room’s ambience, but did you know that this simple wall covering can also have a positive impact on your mood? 

A 1993 study by Dr. Roger Ulrich focused on biophilic design applied to various settings, one of which was a windowless, hospital emergency room. They traded blank walls and artificial furnishings for a design that aimed to connect people with nature through potted plants, furnishings made from natural materials, and a colorful wall mural of plants and animals in a Savannah-like setting.

The result? A significant decrease in stress and aggressive behaviour among patients. Not only did the results of this study give us a glimpse of the power of a connection with nature, it showed that the positive impact can also be present when nature is indirect and merely representational, which brings us neatly back to the wallpapers and murals again!

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Biophilic Walls in Workplaces and Residential Designs

Both wallpapers and murals are suitable for home and the workplace but which one is right for you?

Wallpapers tend to be cheaper, more widely available, and have more designs to choose from, they are also more representative or suggestive of nature than explicitly a scene of nature.

Wall murals on the other hand depict nature in a deliberately photorealistic way—which can arguably lead to greater health benefits.

Whichever option you choose, these outside of the box solutions are guaranteed to introduce a regular dose of nature back into any urban lifestyle. 

If you want to know how we can help you create a biophilic interior contact us via email on design @ biofilico . com