When people “close their eyes and visualize their happy place, 95 percent of the time they will say they are outside,” said Matt Hall, the regional director in the Middle East for Interface, a flooring company that specializes in sustainable products and practices. Hall spoke during a panel discussion about the restorative properties of biophilia — the idea that human beings have an innate desire to connect with nature — during Downtown Design in Dubai, held at the Steelcase WorkLife Center in Dubai in 2017.
The fact is that the average American spends 90 percent of their time indoors and more than half the world lives in urban environments, according to researchers at Steelcase, the parent company of Steelcase Event Experiences. For many, that means “we’re neglecting that human-nature connection we innately crave,” according to a post on the Steelcase blog. “Because it’s those elements — fresh air, lush greenery, natural lighting — that reenergize us, increase our productivity and improve our well-being.”
In the post, Steelcase suggests four ways to bring nature into workspaces, including meeting venues.
- Consider nature-inspired materials, including wood and stone, or surfaces that look like stone, which are a reminder of natural landscapes. And the imperfections in natural materials sound a note of authenticity.
- Think green. Plants have been proven to reduce stress and anxiety. One dramatic way to bring plants into work environments is with a living wall, like the one that’s part of the expansion and redesign of San Francisco’s Moscone Center. But artificial living walls, which are modular and flexible, also are effective.
- Use natural textiles and patterns, a subtle way to incorporate biophilic design. Choose organic patterns, calming colors, and natural textiles to reflect nature’s soothing properties. We can trick our brains to feel like we’re in a natural environment “by triggering underlying patterns that we’re programmed to recognize and feel good in,” said John Hamilton, design director for Coalesse, a Steelcase brand.
- Lighten Up. Although we all crave natural light, not every meeting room comes with windows. Bringing table and floor lamps into meeting spaces combines beauty and technology with a sense of play.