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Biophilic design in commercial interiors

In the hustle and bustle of contemporary life, we can sometimes feel a little detached from the natural world, with harsh corporate interiors dominating commercial spaces, thus limiting the ability to achieve a homely and comfortable ambience. Whilst sleek, sharp interiors can create a modern feel, more and more establishments are moving towards biophilic spaces that embody the natural landscape – forging connections between customers and their surroundings. Biophilia can be defined as a love of nature, and interiors implementing this focus on people’s inherent attraction to nature and natural processes. This provides an opportunity to bring more light into a space, developing more open and green areas that encourage improved health and wellbeing in built environments.

Incorporating elements of nature in an industrial space can dramatically improve working environments with office productivity increasing by 8% and creativity increasing by 13% as a result of improved design. Additionally, utilising biophilic aspects in hospitality environments can create a lush haven for customers, with guests willing to pay up to 23% more for rooms with biophilic views alone. The increasing popularity of biophilic design can be viewed in recent hospitality trends which have seen interiors move the outside in, using plants, natural materials and warm lighting.  Not only can this create an improved guest experience, but it can also create an improved working environment for staff, with this being sure to bring a competitive edge.

So just how do you go about creating a fantastic natural space?

Colour palette

The colour palette is extremely important when creating a space that mirrors the natural aesthetics of the outdoors. Anything that appears man made or inauthentic can quickly diminish the soothing effect of natural surroundings, making the space feel commercialised and false. So, look for colours that mimic natural earthy colours, whether it is muted blues and greens to encourage relaxation or earthy orangey tones to capture the vibrancy of plants, flowers and dessert aesthetics.

The jungle look

Plants are not only a great interior trend that has taken 2018 by storm, but they also have a range of benefits, including increasing oxygen flow, creating beautiful interiors and having a soothing effect for customers. This is one of the best ways to achieve biophilic design and can make a space feel natural, contemporary and stylish. So, discover the look you are going for and adapt the plants accordingly. If you are opting for a culturally themed establishment, consider using plants that originate from these areas. If you are seeking to create a modern space, opt for plants with interesting shapes and textures such as a snake plant or a monstera.

Raw materials

With the move towards eco-friendly and sustainable design, the popularity of natural materials in hospitality design is on the rise. Designers are capitalising on the rustic approach and going for an industrial look that creates a dramatic and appealing environment for guests. The use of exposed brick, metal, raw woods and concrete can give a space a unique edge and somewhat artsy feel. Consumers often crave the unique and the use of raw materials can help capture the diversity of a space. This is demonstrated in Antipodea restaurant in Kew, with bespoke pieces that complement the space, with the mixture of natural woods and materials being specifically chosen to capture that natural aesthetic.

Integrated space

Removing the boundaries between the inside and the outside can be a great way to mix up a space and create a synergy that runs throughout the establishment. Bringing cushion-style furniture to an outdoor environment can mirror the comfort of the indoor space and encourage guests to relax whilst decorating the interiors with a natural aesthetic and living plants can create a unique outdoorsy ambience. Moreover, large glass walls that lead to an outdoor garden can make a space feel bigger and more open which can be more relaxing for guests. This can encourage customers to feel more connected with the outdoors, which is the ultimate goal in biophilic spaces, allowing ultimate natural ease for guests.


Liam O’Donnell is the director of Valdivian Furniture, a British furniture manufacturer that specialises in bespoke, hand crafted contract furniture

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