Biophilia and Art in Healthcare and Offices Spaces

Biophilia is the desire or tendency to connect with nature. It was created by the naturalist Dr. Edward O. Wilson. It was derived from the ancient word "philia" which meant lover of life or reality. Another psychologist by the name of Erich Fromm defined biophilia as a passionate love of life and all that is alive. Biophilia is largely regarded as an evolutionary adaptation.

Studies have shown that humans tend to suffer when disconnected from nature, especially when living in crammed offices or cities. There are exceptions, but the trend has been measurable.

In modern day, humans have more and more enclosed spaces, homes and offices. It is becoming increasingly difficult to connect with nature and the elements. This trend is concerning. Humans are notoriously dependent on environment to thrive, and it makes self-regulation and happiness difficult when the environment is not supportive.

As an artist who frequents nature, I have personally benefited from this connection. This does not mean all natural environments are "safe", but they result in a feeling of belonging and connection.

Interior Designers and architects are increasingly aware of the benefits of nature in their projects. Leadership and management are also trying to come up with creative ways to retain employees, boost employee morale and improve their bottom lines. Although profit is at the forefront of many companies, humans are always the most important resource. A recent trend is creating break rooms with plants, open air, large windows and even gardens.

The main causes for deficient productivity include absenteeism, loss of focus, negative mood, and poor health. The built environment, though not always the cause of these stressors, when well-designed, can be a reliever of these undesirable symptoms.

There is a term called "presenteeism", which is the opposite of absenteeism. With the proper environment, employees are more likely to show up to work and be present.

As for artwork, every theme isn't necessarily good for all people, but certain themes like plants, oceans, sunsets and mountains are great start. Some locations may also elicit an emotional connection, especially if the viewer has been there. It is a good idea to get input from your employees on what they may like as well.

Art also helps people navigate difficult emotions and illnesses. This can be in the form of art on the wall or creating art as well. It is even beneficial to use nature to create artwork itself.




Employers would be wise to setup break rooms or areas that allow employees to recharge and de-stress. Working in healthcare is an extremely tough job and requires resilience, patience self-care.

It appears that biophilia and biophilic art in spaces enable better focus, mental stamina, and productivity—behaviors that benefit workers and employers, as well as the well-being of those at home.