13/11/2023 • 4 min read

Biophilic Design Features for Creativity and Problem Solving

Using Natural Elements in Space Design Improves Creativity

by Aaron Haworth

Incorporating natural elements in space design improves well-being and reduces stress. But, biophilic design also significantly boosts creativity and problem-solving. Employers seeking to support creativity and complex work activities should implement biophilic design elements into their workplace.

Natural Elements Affect Human Biology

The theory of biophilia suggests that humans gravitate toward nature. Much of that impact can be felt subconsciously in our thinking patterns and energy levels. Biophilic environments give our brains more frequent and more efficient opportunities to restore.

Intensive focus work and complex creative thinking requires a lot of mental resources. Research has proven that biophilic environments reduce mental fatigue, which helps people free up more brainpower for focused and creative tasks. Biophilic design features like shelter and retreat, as well as expansive visual access, put the mind more at ease on a deep, subconscious level.

Biophilia Leads Us to Think Differently

A space can incorporate biophilic elements to create a sense of wonder or intrigue—a great way to inspire creativity. This sense of mystery nudges individuals to continue exploring and seeking unique ideas.

The Power of Natural Light

Proper natural lighting has multiple creative benefits. Not only does natural light improve mood and energy, but diffused or shaded natural lighting sparks curiosity, too. Since our circadian rhythm relies on sunlight as a signal for different biological processes, good natural lighting gives us a boost.

Improving mood and happiness lets us put more energy toward creative thinking. Soft accent lighting in the workplace is a great way to amplify creativity by elevating the complexity of a space without making it more difficult to use.

Mimicking Natural Forms in Design

Plants diffuse light during different times of day, which creates variation in shade patterns. Their natural growth slowly builds over longer periods of time, pushing spaces to evolve. They help keep the air fresh by recycling carbon dioxide into oxygen, as well.

Beyond plants and sunlight, artificial patterns referencing natural forms are another tool for improving creativity. According to biophilic design experts, features like curved edges, shadows, and shade are particularly important, as they promote feelings of curiosity.

Technology Can Create Auditory Biophilia

Non-visual biophilic elements can also improve creativity for employees. In these office environments, the goal is for the space to feel refreshing and well-balanced—complex and unique in a familiar way. Spaces can create that feeling with biophilic elements that interact with senses other than sight.

Auditory biophilia—the sounds of nature—can be a major contributor. Sound masking or soundscaping systems that play non-repetitive natural sounds, particularly water sounds, reduce stress and improve mental restoration faster than regular office noise. Over the long run, stress reduction and avoiding burnout can help enhance creativity, so these biophilic soundscaping tools are beneficial.

Where to Create Biophilic Environments

Biophilic design experts suggest integrating these features into common areas and updating the aesthetic design often so people don’t get too used to the space.

Interior architecture offers opportunities for biophilic design inspired by natural patterns. These artificial patterns are often expressions of creativity: a mural of a beautiful landscape, a crafted handrailing with bars that look like vines, or a chair back patterned with the canopy of a wooded forest.

Designers should balance the detail and complexity of any given form without being too overwhelming. Details are necessary for our brains to get creative inspiration, but a poorly designed or jarring pattern can negatively impact the benefits we would otherwise receive.

The Advantages of Biophilic Design

Together, various biophilic design features and tools promote creativity and innovative thinking. Organizations can utilize biophilia to improve their spaces. Workplace designers have several options to promote biophilia: natural lighting, plants, artistic patterns, and digital soundscape technologies. Environments with those features help people thrive, improve well-being, and spark creativity.

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