BIOPHILIC DESIGN-CONNECTING WITH NATURE TO IMPROVE HEALTH AND WELL-BEING
What is biophilic design?
Plants provide a connection to the natural world, which is referred to as biophilia. Researchers found that our physical and mental well-being increases with the presence of natural greenery. Various studies have concluded greater productivity, creativity, and problem solving are a result of having plants integrated into the workspace. Hospital environments with plants have shown increased recovery times and reductions in the demand of pain medication.
Plants purify the indoor air of toxins introduced into buildings with common building materials, such as flooring adhesives and paint, by trapping particulate matter and carbon dioxide gasses from the air and at the same time, releasing oxygen. Many of these toxins are known carcinogens, like formaldehyde and benzene. Other toxins may induce symptoms such as headaches, chronic fatigue, asthma and other respiratory problems. Research conducted by Dr. William Wolverton of NASA indicated that many volatile organic compounds including benzene, toluene, formaldehyde, carbon monoxide, and trichloroethylene can have their levels greatly reduced by even a few houseplants. Beyond purifying toxins from the air, plants emit oxygen through their natural process of photosynthesis. This increase in oxygen helps to keep us healthy and alert.
Reasons to keep indoor plants around:
- Plant-filled rooms contain up to 60 percent fewer airborne molds and bacteria than rooms without plants.
- People who work in offices with windows and plants are happier than others, according to a study of 450 office workers in Texas and the Midwest. In fact, 82 percent of the participants who worked with plants and windows said they felt “content” or “very happy,” compared with 58 percent in windowless plant-less offices.
- Plants seem to make people more contemplative and self-reflective, according to one ethnologist.
Excerpt: What’s Trending at the 2019 HD Expo
In recent years, biophilic design and the use of natural materials has been steadily on the rise. After last year’s HD Expo, I wrote about the growing trend of bringing the outdoors in. This year, it appears the trend has been elevated to an even higher level. There were literally plants everywhere you looked, whether represented as the actual focus of the booth, or as the motif of the objects or furnishings, or even if added décor in the booth.
Make no mistake—plants are in.
To that point, it felt as though there were more timeless (fake) plant vendors at this year’s show. And some, booths looked completely covered in realistic trees and plants, leaves and moss. It reminded me how in recent years I’ve seen more live plants and cut flowers in guest rooms than ever before. The desire to make guests feel welcome and special is enhanced by the use of living plants in private spaces, a more intimate touch than live plants in a public lobby or other space.
At the same time, botanical motifs have shifted away from 2018’s exclusively tropical, banana-leaf patterns to include more styles and aesthetics of botanicals. All are lush and full of leaves and flowers, and are being shown in textiles, carpets, wall coverings, and tile installations. Regardless of style, plants are hot, and can be used in every space in any application in a hotel setting.
As recent research has proven, biophilic design has a positive and restorative impact on occupants of those spaces. Hospitality-specific research on biophilic design has even proven that people will linger in biophilic designed spaces longer than in conventional spaces.