If there is such a thing as a silver lining to a global pandemic, then one positive outcome from COVID-19 could be our rekindled connection to the outside world. When we grew tired of staring at our screens, we took up the practice of daily walks. When we could not dine in our favorite restaurants, we hosted picnics and socially distanced barbecues.


Many of us also found ourselves embracing nature through an abundance of houseplants. 71 percent of North American greenhouses saw an increase in plant sales in 2020, according to Greenhouse Management magazine’s 2020 State of the Industry report. Meanwhile, houseplant hobbyists took to social media to show off their collections: the hashtags #plantmom and #plantsofinstagram have accrued 3.3 million and 14 million posts, respectively. 

It should come as no surprise, then, that biophilic design has also experienced a renaissance over the past two years.

The term biophilia stems from the Greek words for “life” and “love or affection,” making its literal translation “love of life.” Therefore, biophilic design seeks to satisfy humanity’s inherent need to connect with nature through our modern built environments. The concept dates back to the early 1980s, when the biologist Edward O. Wilson hypothesized that humans have an innate, biological affinity for the natural world.

In our increasingly urbanized society, creating these connections is more important than ever before. And true biophilic design is about more than just stocking our shelves with snake plants or getting our hands on a coveted monstera; it’s a mindset, rooted in a belief that interior design can serve as a means to improve our mental and physical wellbeing.

One of 2022’s blossoming design trends, biophilic design goes beyond aesthetics to provide mental, physical, and environmental benefits

Benefits of Biophilic Design

Whether at home or in the workplace, incorporating elements of biophilic design has physical, psychological, and environmental benefits. Because vegetation absorbs pollutants, toxins, and airborne microbes, introducing a wide variety of plants can improve the overall air quality of a space. 

Biophilic design has also been proven to improve mood and cognitive function. One landmark study in 2019 found that children who had been exposed to greenery had 55 percent less mental health problems later in life compared to those who weren’t exposed to nature. 

Green workspaces in particular can reap benefits such as productivity and environmental sustainability. Incorporating elements of biophilia can also help businesses attain both LEED and WELL certifications. Another study, published in the journal Sustainability in 2021, identified a significant increase in sustained and selective attention and work memory when students were exposed to greenery in the classroom. These findings support the Attention Restoration Theory developed by psychologists Rachel and Stephen Kaplan in the late 20th century, which posits that nature is a restorative environment and has the capacity to renew our attention after exerting mental energy. 

Bringing Biophilic Design to Life 

The benefits of biophilic design are abundant, and so are the opportunities to incorporate this concept in your home or workplace. 

There are three categories under the canopy of biophilic design. The first, Nature in the Space, refers to the literal presence of nature in the form of plants, animals, water, scents, light, and other natural elements. Popular biophilic products on the market today, such as potted plants, live plant walls, and dormant moss walls, can transform an office space into an oasis. 

And you don’t have to be a certified #plantmom to bring biophilic design to your home or workplace; faux plants can achieve similar results to live plants by integrating color or texture into the space. 

The second category of biophilic design is Natural Analogues. This refers to the representational presence of natural materials, patterns, objects, colors, and shapes. Designers such as Herman Miller and OFS have found ways to mimic natural elements in the built environment, utilizing natural color schemes, embracing both curves and rough edges, and integrating natural wood in several of their pieces. 

The final category of biophilic design, Nature of the Space, harnesses our physiological response to space planning and architectural design. Reproducing the layout of natural environments–like building ample windows to provide expansive views, or offering a dark and quiet room to mimic a cave–can evoke similar feelings to those we experience while exploring nature. 

The resurgence of biophilic design is one unexpected outcome of the COVID-19 pandemic that we hope continues for years to come. Whether you want to incorporate a few organic elements or build an urban oasis, InterOffice can help you plant the seeds of biophilia in your home or workspace. Visit our showrooms or website to learn more.