Biophilia, literally ‘the love of nature’, has been a central force in the design world for the past few years. It has gathered momentum as open-minded office designers and clients embrace new ways to boost the health and wellbeing of employees – backed by swathes of scientific evidence that happier workers have higher productivity. Over time biophilic design has evolved from filling spaces with potted plants and green walls to creating dramatic fusions of interior and exterior spaces, filled with natural light and materials.
At its heart, biophilic design is a sensory experience. As flooring is the surface with which we have the most constant contact and provides one of the largest visible areas, it’s a key area to focus on if you’re looking to create a more nature-focused, tactile experience in the workplace. The push for including more natural elements in today’s fit-out projects often leaves designers with compromises to make between practicality, cost, and maintaining their client’s brand identity. Now more and more manufacturers are stepping forward to provide effective solutions. This blog is a celebration of our favourite contributions to the world of commercial biophilic design.
Breakout areas are a great way to incorporate more unconventional design elements into an office, allowing employees to get their nature fix while keeping desk-based work areas traditional. While it might not be possible to include a real lawn in most fit-out projects, CCWS chose artificial turf to create a relaxed breakout space for their client Currencycloud, which doubles as a putting green and includes miniature hills to relax on. See the full case study here.
While lawns and leafy greens are the most obvious go-to for adding biophilic design elements to a space, there are plenty more subtle ways to use natural materials underfoot, stimulating the senses. Our Huckletree project featured a tech-free yurt space and an enclosed meditation garden, where we installed woven sisal flooring to complement tall grass and rope screens.
A key way to create stimulating work environments is to introduce different tactile experiences. With almost endless options for pile height and texture, carpet is an ideal way to achieve this. We particularly love this space created in Interface’s showroom by their biophilic design ambassador Oliver Heath. Using carpet planks of different pile heights and textures to mimic uneven outdoor spaces, it shows how little space is required to create a tropical escape in any indoor environment - providing an eye-catching burst of colour at the same time. And Interface’s Human Nature collection doesn’t stop at recalling grassy meadows – its designs also emulate smooth rock, round pebbles and sandy shale, with transition tiles which let you create naturally varied environments.
New technology is also allowing flooring manufacturers to create bold designs which were traditionally reserved for walls. Shaw offer their Canvas digital printing service, to create photorealistic rugs and carpets with ultrafine details, and stunning results like this succulent rug. Biophilic design can also have luxurious interpretations – Marcel Wanders’ collaboration with Moooi Carpets led to the creation of the opulent Eden Queen range, a maximalist flooring collection which draws on the floral paintings of Dutch Masters, available as rugs and broadloom carpet.
Despite the industry’s focus on leafy greens, reconnecting with nature doesn’t have to require dramatic new solutions – or making your office look like a greenhouse! Something as simple as choosing wooden elements over man-made ones can give a boost to everyone’s wellbeing. We supplied and installed Havwoods timber flooring throughout Central Working’s Imperial College co-working location. Here the expansive floor-to-ceiling glazing and light, reflective wood keeps the space feeling connected to the outdoors – but with a result which feels more Nordic hilltop than Amazon rainforest.