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Bringing the outdoors indoors: How to fully embrace biophilic design

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Over the last decade, one of the most exciting developments in office design has been incorporating greenery into the workplace. Bringing the outdoors indoors has revitalised the once-drab spaces in which employees were once confined. It’s even been proven to boost staff performance, well-being and happiness.

So, what is it about incorporating nature into our work environment that has such a positive impact?

Office design specialists Diamond Interiors look at the science to explain how you can go beyond the odd desk plant and transform any office environment.

The biophilia hypothesis

The nature-inspired office might seem like a recent trend, but it actually been around for a long time.

It started with the work of American psychoanalyst Erich Fromm in 1973. He coined the term ‘biophilia’ to describe what he thought to be an innate love of nature in all human beings. Biophilia manifests in the way we interact with spaces: what we pay attention to, what we withdraw from, and where we feel safe.

Twenty years later, biologist Edward O. Wilson applied this concept to indoor layouts. He used ‘biophilic design’ to define artificial spaces that mimic the environments we find in nature. In collaboration with author Stephen Kellert, Wilson identified the benefits of biophilic design were recognised in the world of architecture The Biophilia Hypothesis (2008).

Since then, biophilic design has germinated and bloomed into a positive trend that some of the world’s biggest companies have embraced, including Google, Microsoft and Amazon.

How to incorporate biophilic design into the workplace

Biophilic design is about so much more than the odd fern here or there. It’s about creating an environment that mixes a variety of elements from nature to invigorate the senses.

There are three bases that you should cover when designing a biophilic office space: the visible, the material, and the sensory.

1. The visible

Humans rely on sight as the dominant sense. That makes us pretty unique. Think about visibility first when planning out your space — it’ll make such a difference in the long run.

Natural and dynamic lighting

Picture of a desk next to broad windows in an office with plenty of natural light

Natural light does two important things, beyond brightening up a room and making it feel more alive.

Firstly, it reduces the contrast between the dim artificial lighting and the harsh blue light emanating from computer screens, reducing headaches and feelings of fatigue.

Secondly, the intensity of natural light changes throughout the day as the sun moves. This helps with your circadian rhythm, meaning you feel fresher in the morning and get better sleep at night.

Practical ways to get natural light into an office space

  • Windows and skylights — Are you making the most of the windows in your space? Simple tricks like building desks and features around your window layout South-facing windows will get the most of the sunlight throughout the day.
  • Dynamic and UV lighting — Sunlamps and UV lights are a fantastic way to inject natural light into spaces where there isn’t any present. If you want to go a step further, you can even get dynamic lighting that mimics the movement of the sun throughout the day, helping you get back to that natural rhythm that’s so often disrupted in the bustle of modern life.

Colours

In terms of colour schemes, this largely involves earthy tones, such as greens, browns, golds, and tans, as well as blues and white to mimic the sea, sky, and clouds.

Incorporating green accents in offices have been found to boost employees’ motivation and productivity as well as their sense of well-being. Humans are attuned to seek out colours used in nature, so pick accents that mimic fruits and flowers, too: violet, fuschia, amber and papaya are all fantastic options to be used in small doses.

A distant view

One of the patterns of biophilic design identified by Terrapin Bright Green in their report 14 Patterns of Biophilic Design is that humans feel safer when they are at a vantage point to survey objects in the distance. It goes back to our prehistorical days on the savannah and helps account for why people might pay more for a room if it has a great view of the sea.

That feeling of security is particularly helpful for workers; it reduces anxiety and helps them focus.

Practical ways to provide a scenic view

  • Open the curtains — A simple trick, but keeping the windows open during the day keeps a view in their peripheral vision.
  • Mezzanine — If you have a large office space, you could consider building a mezzanine area. This helps fulfil the inner ‘surveillance’ instinct enough if the view outside is limited.
  • Paintings and photographs — No, it’s not cheating. Paintings and photographs of landscapes can have a positive effect on mental wellbeing, particularly if they’re large prints. Put them on the walls in areas where window access might be limited.

2. The material

Plant life

Plants and flowers are an important part of biophilic design. Stephen R. Kellert writes in Metropolis magazine that “biophilic design focuses on those aspects of the natural world that have contributed to human health and productivity in the age-old struggle to be fit and survive.”

Plants are perhaps the most life-giving of the natural elements available to us, which means they have a central role in bringing the outdoors indoors.

Practical ways to incorporate plant life in a built-up environment

  • Potted plants — A very simple fix but effective nonetheless. Living potted plants oxygenate the air, keeping workers more awake, alert and engaged. Plus, those vibrant greens and luscious pinks bring plenty of life to your office’s palette without breaking the bank. Make sure you get a variety of species to mimic a diverse, thriving ecosystem.
  • Plant walls — As practical as they are artful, plant walls are a creative space-saving trend in biophilic design. These living walls change and evolve with the seasons, creating an immersive feeling as being outdoors even when you’re not.

Patterns and textures

It’s not just colours and objects that create a more natural feel in a space. Patterns and textures that mimic those found outside — known as ‘biomorphic forms’ — are just as important.

A great way to introduce those textures into office space is with natural furnishings like wood, stone and marble help emphasise a room’s natural design.

Practical ways of incorporating natural materials into office design

  • Worktops — Vary the types of desks and tables that you use in your office. Different types of wood, minerals and even things like concrete can help your staff escape the artificial feel of melamine and PVC. Unique, natural textures are a great way to create a more tactile space that staff will want to interact with.
  • Walls and ceilings — A light-wood ceiling is a great way to bring a natural feeling to your space without intruding. You should also consider multi-material walls that vary in texture, too.

Furniture

The best way to incorporate biophilic design into your furniture choices is to look for obscure and unusual shapes combined with naturally-occurring materials. The result is visually striking and distinctive, filled with those little quirks that people come to identify and love.

Ideas for biophilic furniture

  • Chairs — Go for tactile materials like rattan, wicker and teak when thinking about the kind of chairs you want. Incorporate a range of back heights and styles and place them together for intimate diversity. Pair them with woven cushions and throws with earthy tones to soften it up.
  • Break-out spaces — Mix things up with a variety of furniture for your break-out spaces. Bean bags are actually a great option; since they change shape whenever someone sits in them, they regularly change the way an indoor area looks. Plus, they’re really comfortable!

3. The sensory

Sound

What we hear is so important. Silence makes us overly alert to our surroundings, while too much noise leaves us overloaded with information.

But sound does so much more than that. Done correctly, it can be energising or even calming, helping you focus and feel at peace.

Ideas to use sound in biophilic design

  • Water features — The sound of running water has a calming effect on the human mind. Bring that serenity into an office building with carefully placed water features. Use natural materials like slate and bamboo to elicit that feeling of being next to a waterfall or in a rainforest.
  • Rooms within rooms — Try separating areas using naturally sound-absorbant materials like cork or straw. A living wall can function as a vibrant sound barrier between two environments within one bigger space, which helps you limit the volume without isolating anyone. It also makes a great visual feature to break up your space and make it feel distinctive.

Spatial diversity

The natural world isn’t arranged into predictable blocks. Spaces vary thanks to complex geographical patterns. You should try to replicate that natural variety when you plan your space.

By creating a varied environment, you give employees freedom of choice; if they want to collaborate, they can choose an open space, whereas if they want to focus, they might prefer something more enclosed.

Practical ways to vary your space

  • Different ceiling heights — Areas with a lower ceiling have different acoustic properties that those with more space, making them generally quieter and more private. It might be that you use the biomorphic materials mentioned earlier to create features, so the ceiling height changes around the office.
  • Areas to withdraw — Everyone needs a little personal space from time to time. Create focus areas for employees to withdraw to if they need to. They should be small, fitted with sound-limiting materials, and have restricted visibility from others. Instead of putting people in a ‘glass bowl’-type room — which makes them feel watched — try a snug, intimate space built with two-toned walls and dark materials like walnut and exposed brick.

Bring the outdoors indoors

Thanks to its many benefits and increasing demand from business owners who want the very best for their workforce, biophilic design doesn’t look like it’s going anywhere soon. With the above tips, you can begin planning out a workspace that’s as good for your body as it is for your mind.

 

Sources:

https://www.nbcnews.com/mach/science/new-biophilic-buildings-use-quirky-features-bring-nature-indoors-ncna853996

https://medium.com/@SmartVisionLabs/why-vision-is-the-most-important-sense-organ-60a2cec1c164#

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/led-skylights-perfectly-mimic-natural-sunlight-180954348/

https://www.terrapinbrightgreen.com/report/14-patterns/

https://www.metropolismag.com/architecture/what-is-and-is-not-biophilic-design/

https://www.ambius.com/green-walls/ultimate-guide-to-living-green-walls/

http://www.bbc.com/capital/story/20160617-the-never-ending-battle-over-the-best-office-temperature

Diamond Interiors is Featured in Free Office Finder

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Diamond Business Interiors Ltd supplies and installs office furniture to a wide variety of clients from both the public and private sectors, on a national basis. Working with the some of the most respected furniture manufacturers in Europe it is able source and supply the most suitable products for every application, regardless of the project size or budget. Together with their added value services of space planning and design, project management, move management, local sales representation and after sales support they are able to provide the complete service solution for their customers.

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To view the full article from Free Office Finder please click here

 

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5 must-have personality traits that drive productivity

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Cultivating a positive workplace environment is not something achieved by a select few – everyone brings something of their own to the table. Forgive the cliché, but the modern office space is such a hive of activity that it is almost impossible for it to be led by a single presence. Everyone pitches in.

And, if your business is to reap the sweet benefits of growth, increased revenue and industry recognition then the employer must embrace this. Personalities are what make a successful business tick – for better or worse.

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9 Ways to Encourage Your Staff to Exercise (and Save Your Business Money in the Long Run!)

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Across a diverse range of businesses, there is one recurring problem for office workers in the UK. With long periods spent sitting down, sedentary lifestyles are putting employees’ health at risk.

Never has there been such an urgent need for employee exercise programs – but just how much exercise are we talking, here?

According to physical activity guidelines from the NHS, adults aged 19-64 require at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity a week to stay healthy, as well as a minimum of two day’s strength training per week.

This is more than doable, even if you are stuck in an office all day.
With some simple steps and a little encouragement, employers can easily promote an hour of daily exercise for staff. After all, it’s in the business’ best interests to ensure that all employees are fit and healthy, given that long-term sickness absences cost UK companies an eye-watering £4.17 billion EVERY YEAR!

Promoting exercise and a healthy lifestyle is a win-win situation for both sides. We can reduce the risks of sedentary living for employees, whilst saving businesses billions and improving the economy in the process.

Here’s how you can do it…

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In the office design world open plan offices and collaborative spaces are at the peak of their popularity. However, all of this open space does come with some drawbacks. Sometimes privacy is what is needed to get the most out of your employees and in this blog, we explain the importance of having desk dividers (desk screens) and why your organisation can gratefully benefit from having them. Our desk dividers are available in a wide range of colours, sizes and designs. They make a great addition to any office space, read more below to find out why!

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The future of your furniture depends on what you do today!

In today’s economic climate, many companies are opting to up-cycle their existing furniture. We have obtained many contracts resulting in the resizing of desks for a variety of companies. It has become apparent that it makes sense to re-size and upcycle office furniture at a fraction of the cost to buying new.

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We’ve arrived at the middle ground, in which companies are abandoning hot desking but not returning to closed-door offices. Where exactly does that leave us?

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Does the design of a shop have an influence on whether you enter it or buy something? We believe this is exactly the same with your office space.

Felderman says sound and lighting are new areas of focus for innovative companies. “For instance, there’s knowledge that lighting affects the mood and productivity of people,” he says. “Companies will be coming out with lighting for which you can change the colour temperature, so it’s cooler in the morning and warmer in the afternoon.”

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It is hard to keep count of the sheer amount of Social Media networking websites at people’s disposal. Therefore it is likely to throw thousands of companies from using these fantastic marketing platforms. Networking for businesses has never been easier as social apps like Skype allow you to have video conference calls and contact other employees who maybe working from home. Not to mention the two grandfathers of Social Media – Twitter and Facebook. Facebook has acquired over 1 billion users who have created an account, a decent percentage of these users are business promoting their own companies.

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Editorial kindly provided by Patrick Boland – H&M Ergo Seating

With an increasing ‘always on’ society and the rise in instant international communications, many companies are under pressure to offer a more flexible 24/7 working environment to keep pace. This means they need equally flexible office systems and robust furniture to match. Add to that the well-publicised increasing size and weight of the world’s population and the heavy duty category looks like it could soon be considered the norm in office seating.

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Administrative Assistant Required

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The UK’s leading office and design planning specialists are continuing their incredible year of expansion by looking to grow their internal team.

Diamond Interiors are recruiting an experienced administration assistant to work within their Customer Services department at the head offices in Wigan.

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Diamond Secure NCC Contract

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The Wigan based office design planning specialists will supply furniture for more than 120 employees at NCC’s new office space in Leeds.

NCC Group are a global operation with offices in Europe, USA, Canada and Asia boasting 11 sites in the UK alone,

Diamond Interiors will supply furniture to NCC’s latest new office at Thorpe Parke in Leeds.

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The recruitment specialists created new office space in the City Centre and turned to office and design planning specialists Diamond Interiors.

Diamond provided partioning, mechancial works, decoration, signage and power and data solutions as well as office furniture requirements for NJR.

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Diamond Deliver Coolest Office In Manchester

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It has it’s own beach, James Bond meeting room and even a Back To The Future themed floor – no wonder Rentalcars.com new head office has been dubbed the coolest office in Manchester.

 

The stunning new £2.7 million UK HQ in Fountain Street is the hottest office in the city and Diamond Interiors are proud to have created such a fab place to work.

Diamond Interiors supplied the furniture and fittings for OBI Property, the project managers and designers on the incredible project.

They transformed 38,000 sq feet of office floor at 35 Fountain Street for rentalcars.com who have taken the second to sixth floors of their city centre  building in their 10th anniversary year.

Rentalcars.com are one of the largest car rental firms in the world hiring a staggering five million vehicles every year employing more than 350 members of staff in Manchester alone.

The move to Fountain Street will create a further 200 jobs and the company were determined to create an office space that would ensure a happy workforce.

Rentalcars.com CEO Ian Brown, said: “At Rentalcars.com we’re proud to be ‘anything but ordinary’ and we wanted a new office space that would really reflect this ethos and the diversity of our team.

“That’s why we invested so much time and money in creating an office space like no other in Manchester.

“We’re delighted with what we’ve achieved with the building. The reaction from all of our colleagues and visitors so far has been fantastic.”

Manchester based OBI Property represented rentalcars.com on acquiring the new lease and were appointed to design and project manage the new fit out, the biggest property deal in Manchester in 2015.

The team created a totally unique building with each floor of Fountain Street hosting it’s own theme including drive-in movies, metropolis, road trip and world cars.

Each floor also contains quirky meeting rooms including James Bond, Manchester, Las Vegas and Back To The Future and a number of fun ‘break-out’ rooms including an open air cinema, PS4 room, a tranquil park and a beach on the top floor complete with beach huts, a Starbucks bar and pool table in a car!

Diamond Interiors MD Nick Pollitt, said: “It was an exciting project to be part of and the results are absolutely stunning.

“We worked with OBI Property sourcing and installing the furniture and bespoke fittings design to compliment and enhance the themes embraced for each floor.

“The final results are an absolutely stunning office that will ensure a happy and motivated workforce.”

Rentalc

For more information from Diamond Interiors or to arrange a free space-planning appointment please contact 01257 278 277 or email info@diamondinteriors.co.uk

Diamond Dazzle With Sequre Success

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Sequre Property Investments turned to Diamond Interiors for their second office move in a year.

 

The leading property investment specialists are growing at such a staggering rate they needed to secure even larger premises in Greater Manchester.

They have secured an additional 5,000 sq ft of office space within the building in Sale that has been their headquarters for the past 12 month.

The Manchester based business specialise in sourcing discounted buy-to-let properties in bulk and now have offices in London, Liverpool as well as their Sale HQ.

Sequre Property Investment providing bespoke property investment services for novice investors through to high net worth individuals and professional property investors.

They turned to office and design specialists Diamond Interiors who were tasked with the creation of an open plan office space with storewall and meeting rooms.

Graham Davidson, MD of Sequre Property Investment, said: “We are extremely proud of the success that Sequre has achieved in such a short amount of time. Our growth has enabled us to create local jobs, encourage investment in Manchester and allowed us to support local charities with our fundraising efforts.

“Our rapid expansion is testament to our solid business model and our ability to put investors at the forefront of everything we do, this is why we are experience such an overwhelming number of enquiries each month.”

Diamond Interiors are UK leaders in office design and planning and suppliers of office furniture from leading manufacturers and designers.

The Lancashire based business provided a full design plan service for Sequre Property Investment as well as the supply and installation of the office furniture.

For more information from Diamond Interiors or to arrange a free space-planning appointment please contact 01257 278 277 or email info@diamondinteriors.co.uk

 

Diamond Desk For Clarke Energy

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 clarke-energy

It is the showstopper Clarke Energy dreamed of and the final piece of their Diamond Interiors make-over.

 

They have installed a bespoke reception desk created by one of the UK’s most prestigious furniture manufacturers at their Liverpool head office.

Diamond Interiors have led Clarke Energy through a complete refurbishment program transforming their CEO suite at their Knowsley headquarters.

Clarke Energy specialise in the engineering, installation and maintenance of engine-based power plants and are the largest distributors of GE’s reciprocating engine business.

Having successfully complete the refurbishment of their CEO Suite and general office areas in partnership with bespoke furniture manufacturer Hands of Wycombe they were tasked with the creation of a new reception counter.

Diamond Interiors MD Nick Pollitt, said: “This was the final piece of the jigsaw for the Diamond Interior team in terms of our refurbishment program for Clarke Energy and what a way to celebrate.

“We have worked with Clarke Energy for a number of years and they asked us to create something special for their reception area, the main public focal point for their head office and that is exactly what Hands of Wycombe created.”

For more information about Diamond Interiors or to arrange a free space-planning appointment, please contact 0845 683 0024 or email info@diamondinteriors.co.uk