Biophilic design, biomimicry and the beauty of nature at work

Signbox’s talk about the powerful impact of nature and, more specifically biomimicry and biophilic design, on our wellbeing and at work.

Biophilic design, biomimicry and the beauty of nature at work

To appreciate the impact of biomimicry and biophilic design, it’s important to define how these remarkable approaches work.

Biophilic design is a response to architecture that seeks to connect building occupants more closely to nature by incorporating elements such as natural lighting and landscape features, like foliage and live walls. The result is a more productive and healthier space; it’s an applied solution that appeases our desire for nature by integrating nature and its processes into the built environment and, done right, it will trigger a powerful and very positive impact on our health and wellbeing.

Biomimicry is a practice that learns from the strategies and beauties found in nature and mimics them in order to solve human design challenges. It’s about valuing nature for what we can learn from it rather than what we can extract from it or harvest and domesticate. We’re instinctively drawn to nature and its beauty, so it helps us feel content and calm and can be enormously beneficial to incorporate it into our buildings and to, literally, bring the outside in.

The key benefits of biophilic design and biomimicry in the workplace

During the ideation process, we’re always looking for new inspiration for patterns and designs for the environmental graphics and signage schemes we create for our clients. These can range from glass manifestations and wallcoverings to acoustic mosaic patterns, for example – Signbox processes are incredibly wide ranging.

However, not only does a scheme have to be aesthetically pleasing, it has to complement and enhance the client’s brand and reflect the demographic of the employees too. The need to balance this carefully is an ever-present challenge for designers, so we take time to consider the style and colour palette that we use within the workplace and to analyse how it will enhance the space.

Think about the look and feel you want to create. Is it calming and soothing, serious and corporate or engaging, fun and energising?  Colours have an innate power to evoke emotions; selecting colours from nature, such as greens and blues, can create a wonderfully calming environment that will really boost the wellbeing of your employees.

We know a lot about what motivates and inspires – and we know that working alone in white cubicles is not the way to get the best from people. Connecting more with each other and nature is proven to improve our wellbeing and increase creativity and productivity.  It really does make good business sense to join the growing number of companies who are incorporating nature into their workspaces.

Employees who work in areas with more plants and foliage around them have been shown to be 15% more productive due to the resulting increased oxygen levels, which can also help to combat mental fatigue and improve concentration levels. By absorbing the toxins that circulate, this increase means fresher, cleaner air quality for those who use the space.

At Signbox, we believe it’s imperative to consider wellbeing at the start of a project – designing a building shouldn’t just be about the way it looks, it should be to enhance the experience of those who live and work inside it. Increased light, better, more circulated fresh air and communal outside social and workspaces can have a hugely positive impact on everyone.

We’ve established that humans are drawn to nature and its beauty and how it can engage us more and make us happy when we’re connected to the great outdoors in some way. By going further and incorporating biomimicry into our designs and using different elements of nature for our inspiration, we can create beautiful engaging spaces that boost our overall wellbeing.

There are so many areas of nature that can touch us in our daily lives, but we’re often too busy to even notice. The intricate patterns on a single leaf, the patterns raindrops make when they fall, the way waves crash onto a beach – all these shapes and effects can inspire our designs. Having these calming images around us not only looks beautiful, but subconsciously connects us to nature, improving our mood and making us more engaged and productive.

Why is biomimicry and biophilic design more important now than ever?

Thanks to the last two years spent navigating the pandemic, experiencing long periods of isolation, limited outdoor time along with restricted social lives and collaboration at work, it’s unsurprising the UK has seen a sharp rise in mental health illness. Enforced distancing has really brought our desire to be outside around nature and together to the surface. In many ways, our way of viewing the world has changed forever.

Prioritising our physical and mental health is paramount. For many, the answer is to opt for healthier commutes to the office, replacing cramped buses and trains for walking or cycling – indeed, cycle hubs at work have now become a welcome staple in response to these behavioural changes.

Ensuring people want to return to the office after prolonged periods of home working means employers are also now investing heavily in the design, colour and materials used within their workspaces to prioritise wellbeing and create an enjoyable home-from-home space. Incorporating the power of nature with biomimicry and biophilic design into the work environment undoubtedly supports this approach.

How Signbox is incorporating biomimicry and biophilic design into our schemes

Our design teams regularly incorporate biomimicry and biophilic design into our signage schemes because we value the health benefits these approaches can give. We take our inspiration from a wide range of nature sources; honeycomb, leaves, water, tree bark – there are beautiful patterns everywhere when you take the time to look closely. We’re even installing illuminated signage onto live walls and using sustainable and natural materials such as bamboo to create wayfinding schemes. Nature is truly a never-ending source of inspiration that you can continually take from yet never tire of.

Signbox recently completed a stunning, sustainable project at 100 Bishopsgate where we were tasked with creating 3D manifestations for glass meeting rooms across 13 floors of the building. These biophilic manifestations formed part of a forest concept featuring foliage, trees and birds, which were applied to glass panels that captured the natural light, energising the interior workspaces and promoting a healthy, productive working environment.

On the first floor, images depicted the ground level of a forest – as you climb the building, these images change to give the illusion you are climbing the trees until you reach the 13th floor and the tree canopy. This beautiful and very clever biomimicry design engaged the employees by taking them on a journey through the building. It successfully projected an important message of unity and teamwork as it connected floors and people together. The result: everyone felt they were part of a single, larger team and, individually, were valued and important.

Humans were once surrounded by nature and, as we’ve evolved, we’ve become used to spending most of our lives in built-up areas and indoors – this is a substantial contributing factor in the increase of poor mental health in our society today. We can now appreciate the benefits of bringing nature inside thanks to clever biophilic and biomimicry design that can improve our wellbeing, engagement and productivity.

This has to be part of the future of workplace design. If you’d like advice on how you can incorporate biophilic and biomimicry design into yours project please get in touch with us at

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