Biomimicry is a design trend that can influence your design choices in construction projects and redesigns alike. It balances design with functionality, and draws aesthetic and practical inspiration from nature. Today I’m looking at how you can use biomimicry in your next office design project, to create a beautiful office space that perfectly meets your client’s practical requirements.
What is Biomimicry?
Biomimicry is the copying (mimicry) of living things (bio). Biomimetic office design is the practice of drawing inspiration from natural forms and structures and incorporating this into the design of the workplace. Just as nature balances form and function, biomimetic design looks at workplace design from a practical standpoint just as much as an aesthetic one.
As well as striving to create a harmonious working environment, biomimicry can also help to reduce costs through careful planning: in nature we see “complex forms that use minimal materials in exactly the right place” (source), and this approach can guide construction and office redesigns to conserve resources.
How to Incorporate Biomimicry into Your Next Office Design Project
1) Take the Holistic View of the Office
A well-designed office is like a small, self-sustaining ecosystem. It will have lots of different parts which make up the whole space:
- Private offices
- Meeting rooms
- Break-out areas
- Communal facilities like kitchens and bathrooms
- Head-down workspaces
These different parts should be considered altogether when designing the office space, to create a cohesive, functional design where all of the parts work together, contributing to a harmonious working environment.
2) Maximize Natural Lighting
Daylighting is the practice of predominantly using natural light, rather than artificial light, to light a building. In a new office construction project, daylighting devices can be installed during construction. However, if this is impractical or too costly for your office redesign project, there are a few smaller-scale changes you can make to maximize the levels of natural lighting within the office space:
- Embrace open office working, reducing the number of light-blocking walls to enable natural light from windows to travel further through the office space.
- Position workstations near windows, to give employees maximum exposure to natural light while they work.
- Replace opaque dividers and cubicle partitions with transparent or translucent glass dividers.
3) Minimize Waste During Construction or Redesign
Resource efficiency – making sure you use just the right amount of materials for your construction or redesign – is central to the biomimicry trend. Nature isn’t wasteful: everything has a purpose.
Reducing resource consumption during the design or construction process has two major benefits: firstly, you will reduce costs and save money for your clients; and secondly it will be better for the environment as you’ll have less waste to dispose of at the end of the project.
One prime example of minimizing waste is in your choice of flooring. A typical broadloom carpet installation can generate as much as 10% waste. In contrast, carpet tiles generate only 4% waste.
4) Take Aesthetic Inspiration from Nature
As well as considering the practicalities of your office design, biomimicry also encourages you to draw aesthetic inspiration from the natural world. Recent research by Steelcase revealed that contact with nature is “conducive to wellbeing in the working environment”, so incorporating natural elements into the aesthetics of the workplace can help to improve employee health and wellness.
Organic patterning and curves or spirals are classic elements of biomimetic design. Additionally, incorporating natural materials into your design, like plants for decoration or wood or stone in furniture or decorative features, can offer health and wellness benefits by bringing the natural world into the office environment.