Journal of Biophilic Design
Journal of Biophilic Design
Vanessa Champion, editor, Journal of Biophilic Design
Welcome to our podcast series from the Journal of Biophilic Design, where we interview workplace consultants, futurists, interior designers, architects, urban planners and those working in healthcare, wellbeing and other industries to find out the latest on Biophilic Design.
Plants @ Work…and Home… and in every room
As National Plants at Work week comes to a close, we celebrate all things plants with this great interview with ambassador and passionate interior and exterior planting designer, Ian Drummond. Plants at Work week takes place once a year, and aims to promote the many benefits of having plants in the workplace and in the past the designers for Plants at Work week have decorated all kinds of things from a Thames Clipper to a London black cab.   In this really passionate interview, be inspired and learn which plants are good where, why we need plants at every stage of our lives. Ian has worked with so many really interesting people, including Elton John, Chelsea Flower Show, BAFTA, London Fasion Week, I left the interview feeling ‘what a cool job he’s got’. Seriously, if you are thinking of working with plants, have a listen to this podcast or share with someone who is considering a career in plants, you’ll definitely leave the podcast impassioned too.   Ian started his passion for plants at a young age. He grew up in a council estate surrounded by concrete. One of his family gave him a house plant and it grew from there. One of the most powerful things he said, was how wonderful it would be if there was an opportunity for everyone to have living nature around them, if all communal spaces had a green oasis for everyone to spend time in. You don’t need a big investment, we need to open up our minds as to what’s important, developers and architects need to consider “green”. Not everyone can get outside, so bring the outside in, let’s fill schools, classrooms with plants. It should be an automatic thing, we should grow up surrounded by plants. Ian shares with us some research he started with Dr Craig Knight of Exeter University where they showed that there was a 37% increase in productivity when people could design their own space with plants and artworks that meant something to them. No one wants to be in a lean empty box, you wouldn’t chose to live like that, so why would you chose to go into an office like that? One of the positive things that came out of Covid, was that to entice people back to the office, business owners realised they need to make the office a nice environment to come back to. As a result interior landscaping is booming, and it’s an easy way for corporate clients to change the look of an office. It’s cost-effective and there are lots of benefits from productivity and creativity to wellbeing. We are naturally drawn to nature, as was proven during lockdown. And in fact, during Lockdown, Ian describes how he transformed a simple public seating area with pots and planting with grasses and summer bedding and how it became a haven for people. People are drawn to beauty, nature, plants, and as Biophilia refers to, LIFE, our inherent “love of life and living things”. We do so need it.  He shares with us how we can create “shelfies”, why Vanda Orchids are terrific, why we need Monsteras and how Zamioculcas are hard to kill! So some tips there for newbies to planting! His new book “At Home with Plants” shares ideas for what to plant in every room in the house. As he says, and I agree (!), every room should have plants! To look at Ian’s wonderful designs and find out more about him, visit his website and Instagram @plantman_about_town To buy Ian Drummond’s book “At Home with Plants” visit all good bookshops, or click here if you’d like to support our Journal (thank you if so!) If you want to become a member of Plants at Work (either as a supplier or as a business wanting to support what they do), visit: If you are an office manager stuck for ideas what to do, have a look through, it’s full of lots of ideas. And also visit their website to buy their third book: “Plants, our Perfect Partners” To view some installations, including their recent NookPod planting, see some of their blogs including this one with some great images: Credits: with thanks to George Harvey Audio Production for the calming biophilic soundscape that backs all our podcasts.  Did you know our podcast is also on Audible, Amazon Music, Spotify, iTunes, YouTube, Stitcher, vurbl, podbay, podtail, and most if not all the RSS feeds? Facebook Twitter LinkedIn. Instagram
Jul 1
42 min
Sustainable Habitats for Sustainable Habits?
When you climb up a tree, don’t we see life from a different perspective? We realise we part of something bigger than ourselves, we see an overview of everything and it helps us understand our place in the world more. It is also true, that generally many people and businesses seem to have a distorted relationship with nature, but as Environmental Psychologist and Design professional Anicee Bauer of “Humans in Trees” puts it: “we are nature”. Can Biophilic Design really encourage a more sustainable lifestyle, and why should the Workplace include Biophilic Design in order to help reach that NetZero target? Anicee is going to be speaking about “How to Design Sustainable Habitats for Sustainable Habits” in the NetZero Workplace taking place on 7th July 2022 in London (for more information and book a space, look here: ). What is inspiring, is that Anicee’s whole business model is to encourage a more Biophilic way of life not only in the external design of a space but also in the inner landscape within each one of us. In this podcast, she shares with us the three fascinating levels in this process. We touch on Wabi-Sabi design strategies, Aristotelian intellectual moral virtues, spirituality, reconnecting with the fun we feel in nature and Einstein. Biophilia is indeed our innate connection with nature and living things. We touch on studies that show how Biophilic Design stimulates pro-social behaviour, trust and empathy in employees. Also how Biophilic Design encourages us to be more predisposed to want to be in contact and to care for nature, which in turn encourages sustainable living habits. We also talk about those “awe”-inspiring moments in nature, how they make us feel humble, and how they encourage us to think less about the ego, the “I/me” and open our focus towards the collective good, our social surroundings and therefore our environment. Imagine a workplace where everyone is fulfilling their purpose. We need more people to be visionary. Question is, are you one of those free-thinking business owners who already do or want to do things better, not just for the greater good of people but of the planet too? Contact us and share your story or better still join us at The Net Zero Workplace: For more information on Anicee Bauer and Humans in Trees, contact her on: To read the chapter in the book Anicee mentions, “The Eudaimonic Workplace, A Plea for Change”, you can view it here: If you would like to learn more about how to reach Net Zero in your workplace, have a listen to our recent interview with Jeremy Campbell and Ian Baker of Emcor, who are also speaking at the NetZero Workplace event here:
Jun 17
55 min
Biophilic Design and Net Zero targets in the Workplace
So how do we design workplaces and maybe more importantly maintain our workspaces and offices during the course of the building’s life span and use to help create happy, healthy and also sustainable places to be? We speak with Ian Baker, Head of Workplace and Jeremy Campbell, Executive Director Marketing and Business Development for Emcor UK to find out their direct experience as facility managers just what is happening in workplaces, and also how we can improve what we’re doing now to also hit that NetZero target. We talk about how worried they are about climate change and the IPCC report. We are at a turning point, there is no Planet B, if we carry on as we are doing there aren’t going to be future generations, we have moral obligations as business leaders to solve these problems So how can business owners start to address the issue of trying to reach Net Zero? A recent survey Emcor carried out revealed that 50% of business owners were not ready or not yet on a journey to meet their Net Zero targets. We discuss how we can retrofit solutions into buildings. The EPC ratings will come into play for the workplace, and this is going to force companies to really think about that retrofit decision. Before the pandemic we just used our buildings and didn’t really think about HOW we were using them. Now we have an opportunity to really create workplace that we chose to come to, and also to responsibly consume the buildings themselves. We need to really think WHY we are using a space and manage that accordingly. The Journal of Biophilic Design is a media sponsor of the new event THe Net Zero Workplace, which is taking place on 7th July 2022, Cavendish Conference Centre in London. Find out more here and to book tickets. Ian and Jeremy are both speaking there too on “Responsible Consumption in the Workplace”. Biophilic Design is one of the key elements in helping companies meet their targets. How we attract and retain talent, so our workplaces are destinations of choice, we want to create workplaces that make us feel great, that stimulate our personal feeling of wellness and wellbeing and also inspire our creativity. To find out more about Emcor visit: And to find out more about the Net Zero Workplace event visit Credits: with thanks to George Harvey Audio Production for the calming biophilic soundscape that backs all our podcasts. Did you know our podcast is also on Audible, Amazon Music, Spotify, iTunes, YouTube, Stitcher, vurbl, podbay, podtail, and most if not all the RSS feeds? Facebook Twitter LinkedIn. Instagram
Jun 13
46 min
Pioneer Nature Method in Architecture
How can we work with the landscape more as architects and designers to not only create beautiful spaces but ones that also have a positive impact on our and nature’s wellbeing? We speak with Stephen Melvin, of Atelier Architects who desribes himself as a “landscape facilitator”. How he looks at how the landscape itself is structured and presents itself and then see how to weave the design into the natural space. He has developed the “Pioneer Nature Method” which he tells us about in this podcast. Steve highlights the need to respect that underlying process of nature that will outlive us, how we need to build in and with the landscape and really consider how our buildings can live with nature. By talking through images shown in the video accompanying this podcast (viewable on YouTube and also on the Journal of Biophilic Design website here), he shows us a project as a case study, so we can follow his thought processes from concept through to render, looking at different aspects from materials, light, air to how people will use the space and also how it represents the client’s aims too. These are beautiful airy, light, inspiring spaces that positively impact the environment they are in, rejuvenating land that had been weakened by former use, and also redirecting attention to ancient woodland and more. Steve also shares with how his personal meditation practice alongside his love of rock climbing, particular ice-climbing has really made an inherent difference to how he perceives and senses landscape and therefore influences how he designs and builds. To find out more about Stephen and his practice visit his website or contact him directly: Atelier Architecture & Design 01442 828201, mobile 07970 701130 Atelier Architecture + Design Ltd: Company Page Admin | LinkedIn Stephen Melvin | LinkedIn
Jun 10
45 min
Chris Packham - Why we need to build with Nature in Mind
With our countryside fast vanishing under concrete, there is much we can do to mitigate the loss by placing the natural world at the heart of development and planning. “Housing developments and houses themselves should be designed to provide space for both wildlife and people” – The Wildlife Trusts. But how do we get to this mindset? We were very excited to be joined by Chris Packham, naturalist, television presenter, writer, photographer, conservationist, campaigner and filmmaker. A very much respected presenter of BBC’s BAFTA Award-winning Springwatch, Autumnwatch and Winterwatch series. In our discussion, we talk about Biophilic Design and he makes an urgent call about why we need to bring nature into our built environment. “If we are not in contact with nature, how are we ever going to learn to love or recognise its true value.” We were joined in this podcast by the insightful environmental correspondent Hartley Milner, who right at the start of the podcast asks about the current government legislation, policy change, the new watchdog being set up and how much is government spin. Chris, with his extensive knowledge of ecology, explains that really the governance is not enough, we need a collective sea-change in political attitudes, where those who govern us recognise an urgent need to address these issues. “Does it have to hurt us a lot more before we do anything? We are brilliant at cures, but not so good at prevention, which is an indictment of our collective intelligence that we wait to fall over before we pick ourselves up”. This is one of the compelling reasons for Biophilic Design implementation. It is an integral part of that prevention I would argue. Surrounding ourselves with nature and patterns of nature, encourages positive memory, association and understanding and appreciation of nature. If we experience it in our everyday built environment we will naturally want to protect the living world we share our planet with, and depend on. “Our planet is on fire,” he says. “One to one contact with nature is essential”. Chris also gives us ideas on how we can bring nature up close and personal in our own gardens, however small. “You might have a tiny patch of garden, but collectively, they are not. Did you know that all the gardens in the UK add up to an area the size of Suffolk?” Chris says that if we can help enable the individual to make a difference, then communities, then collectively all together, we can make a significant difference enabling us to live and survive more sustainably. We talk about how we can design and build good quality affordable housing, new developments and communities with nature in mind. “Ask for help, reach out to those ecologists for help, let’s work in partnership. If you have the energy and ambition to build more sustainably and green, don’t just go 60% to make it green, go 100% and make it green and fruitful,” he says. Wouldn’t it be amazing to see a whole raft of architects, developers, planners and designers who are able to create amazing spaces, offering everyone access to nature, even in intensely urbanised areas, improving health, and air quality, reducing temperature, encouraging biodiversity? We are running out of time. A better way of designing needs to be mandatory. Wouldn’t it be amazing if every new build had swift bricks (which cost the same as ordinary ones), bat boxes, and fruit trees for instance? I suggest that maybe we need a simple “takeaway kit” for some developers to just plug and play an implementation. We need to build housing that will work today and tomorrow. The whole ethos of Biophilic Design is summed up when Chris says how we should be giving people the chance to live an harmonious co-existence with nature. When we have first-hand experience of nature, it surprises us, it fills us with awe and wonderment. We have discussed elsewhere on this podcast series, just what happens in our brains when we are close to nature (sights, sounds, smells, light, air, senses, evolutionary psychologyl, and physiological changes for instance), it is humbling to hear first-hand from someone so passionate about the natural world, that together we can really make a difference. So, listeners (and readers), I’m going to ask you. What will you do today?
May 19
43 min
Rooted in Nature - how Biophilic Design helps us flourish
Can we make the world a better place by design? Nicole Craanen definitely thinks so (and so do we). Nicole is founder of Rooted in Nature and believes that connection to nature, especially through Biophilic Design supports human wellbeing. Quoting E.O.Wilson “the crucial first step to survival in all our organisms is habitat selection. If you get the right place, everything else is likely to be easier”, she explores in this podcast, just how we are rediscovering how we can design close to nature to help create better spaces for us to live and work in, and this is especially true in healthcare. Just how important is it that everyone understands the impact that design has on us? Should we be using biophilic design as a tool for equity? How can we design spaces where people “flourish”, because, as Nicole says, there is a lot of “not flourishing” going on. We have many studies proving just how beneficial Biophilic Design is, which underlines that deep innate connection that we have to the space around us. All this research is helping us determine habitats that support us in the built environment. It is also helping advocate the environmental stewardship aspect of Biophilic Design as a sustainable design practice. When she travelled to India, the experience shifted the way she looked at design. Her love of learning and specialisms in anthropology and architecture, alongside her love of photography, all came together in the school of human ecology at Wisconsin and she has gone on to inspire many architecture practitioners to see the interconnectivity of spaces and people in them. How are we not designing for the people who have to be there? In this podcast we also discuss Healthcare. What is the single most important reason we need Biophilic Design in these spaces? Stress. We need Biophilic Design to relieve stress. Nicole has spent many hours working in hospitals she says: “Hospitals are heavy places. It is the one place where the entire lifecycle is experienced. Staff experience stress alongside patients. She’s seen it where staff lose a patient and then have to turn around and go straight to the next room.” How can we relieve that? Maybe one of the underused design traits is “prospect and refuge”. It is something, here at the JBD, we advocate. Creating spaces where, particularly in healthcare, emotion can come out. We want to be creating environments, where people can feel ‘held in space’. It’s not just the physical side, the economic side, we need to put at the forefront the emotional side of the space. There is a different way. We just need to feel it, to experience it, once we have, we don’t want to go back. Nicole also takes architects and design practitioners into the forest, where (just as an anthropologist would do) she encourages people to look, observe, explore, not judge, just witness, to explore the senses. There are subtle shifts we then experience, and when we walk back into a building, we look at what’s missing. If you like this, would you like to register for our newsletter? Credits: with thanks to George Harvey Audio Production for the calming biophilic soundscape that backs all our podcasts.  Did you know our podcast is also on Audible, Amazon Music, Spotify, iTunes, YouTube, Stitcher, vurbl, podbay, podtail, and most if not all the RSS feeds? Facebook Twitter LinkedIn. Instagram
May 10
52 min
Biophilic Design Awards
For Elliott Bennett, editor of i-Plants Magazine and founder of The Biophilic Design Awards, Biophilic Design gives us an holistic approach to bringing positivity and energy into the built environment on multiple levels, and if we can make it affordable and sustainable, then even better. Plants can be a luxury item, but, Elliott, argues, they really boost the overall environment. Coming from a B2B background, actually selling and installing plants into buildings, he descirbes just how "alive' people become when you install living plants into a building. It's simple, plants are alive, when you bring plants into a space, you bring life. It's the same with the wider principles of Biophilic Design, bringing patterns of nature and our living planet into a space, you bring life and energy of the outdoors. Last year's winners of the Biophilic Design awards were Plant Designs London who installed a multi-level atrium with 10,000 live plants throughout the offices and building. We've included images on if you would like to take a look. If you're looking for some Biophilic Design inspiration for your interior landscaping installations, why not take a look at the previous winners of The Biophilic Design awards. You can also enter THIS year, BEFORE 15th May 2022. Link below. We speak with Elliott Bennett, editor of i-Plants Magazine and founder of The Biophilic Design Awards on how he got into the plant world and why, for him, Biophilic Design is a key to unlocking better interiors for companies and staff. To apply for The Biophilic Design awards, BEFORE 15 MAY 2022, click on this link: For I-Plants Magazine : To apply for The Biophilic Design awards, BEFORE 15 MAY 2022, click on this link: For I-Plants Magazine : f you like this, please subscribe! Please register for our newsletter : Credits: with thanks to George Harvey Audio Production for the calming biophilic soundscape that backs all our podcasts.  Did you know our podcast is also on Audible, Amazon Music, Spotify, iTunes, YouTube, Stitcher, vurbl, podbay, podtail, and most if not all the RSS feeds? Facebook Twitter LinkedIn. Instagram
Apr 14
28 min
What can we learn from Ancient Roman balneology?
In Biophilic Design we speak about the importance of how the environment we are in affects our senses. This sensorial approach is a key feature of a human-centric mode of design. Why we would consider designing spaces which harm our minds, physical health and negatively affect our ability to focus or be creative is beyond me. Thankfully, this disconnect between understanding how to create spaces harmonious to our senses is losing ground, with the advent of the Biophilic Design movement. This was one of the main reasons I was excited to interview Dr Giacomo Savani, who specialises in ancient Roman balneology. What is that you might ask? Balneology, as he explains in this podcast, is the study of baths and bathing, how water, springs and spas also can heal. Readers of our Journal and listeners to the podcast, will probably have some understanding of the concept of the “Blue Mind”, how water has such a positive effect on us. Dr Savani has taken this a few steps further and looked at the physical and sensorial aspects of ancient Roman bathing, and we discuss in this podcast, how we might learn from their experiences and design practices and bring aspects into our designs today. Dr Savani gives us a description of what a Roman bath would look like, how it was designed, what elements of bathing it included (the experience of moving from the gym area, to hot, to warm, to cold temperature differences for instance) but makes an important point that they were EVERYWHERE from small towns and villas to military outposts and cities. It was a real social centre, and the experience in these baths were shared by people of different social and cultural backgrounds as well. He also describes a bathing house in Pompeii where in the baths themselves in the area closer to the pool, they created a more natural environment, a nature simulation. They painted trees, bushes, and natural elements with the experience of bathing. It would have given the bather the impression of being in a natural pool. In the Renaissance, there was literally a rebirth in interest in the ancient world, physicians were reading ancient medical treatises. Then, the remains of the ancient baths in the city of Bath were discovered in the mid-18th century which further inspired the interest. If you listen on, you will find out where you can visit and experience an ancient Roman bath. What if there were places we could all go to in every city and town, even now, to hang out, unwind, and meet with friends and business colleagues, but the focus and purpose is water? We go on to discuss how we can bring this ancient practice into modern-day environments and how we might benefit from it. To contact Dr Giacomo Savani University of St Andrews: To view his art: Twitter: Instagram: Link to the digital edition of the book Life in the Roman World: Roman Leicester: Link to buy a physical copy of the book (all money goes to support outreach activities in Leicestershire): If you like this, please subscribe! Please register for our newsletter on our website Credits: with thanks to George Harvey Audio Production for the calming biophilic soundscape that backs all our podcasts. Did you know our podcast is also on Audible, Amazon Music, Spotify, iTunes, YouTube, Stitcher, vurbl, podbay, podtail, and most if not all the RSS feeds? Facebook Twitter LinkedIn. Instagram
Apr 7
39 min
Planted Country - Save our Soil
Listeners to our podcast will likely really love this. There’s a great free event taking place on the first bank holiday here in the UK, from April 30th to May 2nd 2022. Planted Country is being hosted at the beautiful National Trust property here in the UK, at Stourhead with its 600 year old chestnut trees. It’s free to attend, and if you love nature, love design, good food and you love beautiful spaces, then come to Planted Country, you're going to love it. Based around the principles of biophilic design, Planted Country will be exploring the health and creative benefits of connecting with nature, presenting sustainable design, a high-calibre talks programme entitled Save our Soil, nature-based workshops and a botanical market. The event will be exploring the importance of looking after the land for farming, for food and for nature, and the role that design can play in designing spaces which are much more sympathetic and empathetic to nature and part of our city and wildlife. We speak with the co-founder Sam Peters and biophilic design advisor, Oliver Heath to find out how the event builds on their inaugural event, Planted Cities, which they held last year in London’s Kings Cross, and what Planted Country will explore in this more Rural setting on the Wiltshire-Somerset border. The theme is Save our Soil We are in a climate emergency. Planted Country is also going to be looking at things from literally what is the land beneath our feet, what is soil? Why is it so important, why should we protect it? What does it give us? What does it give the planet? What can we store in it? Conversations around carbon capture, biodiversity, water. What does farming look like in the future? How can farmers be part of the huge solution here? There will be a series of talks, looking at regenerative farming, rewilding and more. Also exploring how architects and designers are really starting to look at local vernacular materials and the role they play in mitigating embedded carbon, as well as the beauty and sense of place they bring. As Oliver says at the end: “It's essential. If we strengthen that connexion to nature, there are benefits for the way that we live in cities and the resilience that it can bring to the spaces that we live in, but also how it can support our physical, mental and social wellbeing. Nature plays such a fundamental role in how we're going to shape happier, healthier, more resilient futures.” To book tickets and find out more visit:
Apr 7
13 min
My Green Pod - How to have a Biophilic Lifestyle
My Green Pod started off as an ethical lifestyle publication circulated with National Geographic Green in 2009, and now it's distributed to over 77 million people with the Guardian. The journey of the founder, Jarvis Smith, is a fascinating one, and one that is inspiring to fellow environmentalists. We chat to Jarvis about his Shamanic training, his epiphany on the set of an observational documentary on a rubbish tip and how we can each make conscious decisions that will help this beautiful planet we are living on. We also look at his office which was designed by Biophilic Design expert, Oliver Heath, and explore some of the features, from the living wall to the paint colours and materials used, and importantly what it feels like to work there. Jarvis’ life journey is incredibly inspiring, after having a life changing experience which was caught on film, he has made it his life’s work to try and help make our planet a better place to live on. “I committed that I would dedicate my life's work not only personally, but in business to educating, transforming, inspiring other human beings to live more consciously and become aware of what we now know is a climate crisis. In 2006, when this show happened, or when we won there, no one really even knew what sustainability meant, let alone climate crisis.” So he put all his skills and experiences together, from publishing, brand relationships and advertising and now My Green Pod works with some of the biggest ethical, sustainable brands in the world, like Patagonia, Interface and others. My Green Pod is like a home, where you can come back to, learn from the excellent blogs and content, and also benefit from the research they’ve done on the brands there. Jarvis, like us here at the Journal of Biophilic Design, advocates that if we all lived our purpose, if we committed that purpose to mitigating the climate crisis, and if we were totally willing to give that time to fix the problem the world would be a completely different place. That's part of what my Green Pod is about, it is not only inspiring people to make life choices which are better for people and planet, but also to try and underwrite an opportunity for them to be able to connect with their purpose and then offer that skill set to mitigating the climate crisis. We talk about switching out your normal cleaning products for eco-friendly ones. While each “product” you might be using has a small amount of toxins in it, it’s the amalgamation of a whole bunch of them which is harmful to your health, and especially to our planet. Part of Biophilic Design, for me, is to bring in natural smells, materials on as many different levels as we can, to help us live better and healthier, not only for our own wellbeing but also for that of our planet. Throughout the whole podcast, Jarvis gives a very impassioned and inspirational view of how we can live differently. It’s true change does start with us. We just need to know where to start. To find out more visit My Green Pod.
Apr 5
45 min
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