The hospitality industry is more vibrant than ever, and with this boom has come an increased focus on customer experience. Hospitality designers have been looking to the field of experience design to provide more targeted, immersive experiences that leave smiles on customers’ faces. Ultimately, this means designing for the people you’ll be serving, and that requires a close consideration of customers’ wants and needs.
One of the best methods to unexpectedly delight and enhance customer experience, no matter what sector of hospitality, is to use biophilic design elements. Here are 12 of my favorite use cases.
1. Abundant natural materials create a strong connection to nature
For an easy way to enhance the biophilia effect of any space, place several biophilic elements near each other. Even the simple placement of a plant next to a wooden wall can make a noticeable impact on people’s mood and behavior. Doing so creates a visual connection with nature as well as a connection with natural systems, which are two of the 14 patterns of biophilic design as stated by Terrapin Bright Green. The more natural elements you include, the happier and more relaxed your patrons will feel, culminating in a positive experience.
2. For indoor spaces, try biophilic focal points
From the Design Institute of San Diego: This living wall in New York’s Hotel Hugo is a striking biophilic focal point
Indoor spaces without abundant daylight or sightlines to the outdoors are most in need of biophilic elements. For these types of indoor areas, including a biophilic focal point will foster the natural connection needed for customers to feel their best. Go big so as to draw guests’ eyes, impress them, and satisfy their desires to be closer to nature. Living walls, gardens, waterfalls, fountains, ponds, and fireplaces are some examples of biophilic focal points that can be implemented in any indoor environment.
3. Hanging plants provide a unique biophilic aspect
This biophilic technique is easy but a bit unexpected. A small assortment of hanging plants placed together can be used to simultaneously add biophilic elements and make a room feel fuller and more alive. You can use different types of hanging greenery to make a floating garden or place the plants more sparsely to create points of visual interest throughout a space.
4. Reclaimed wood adds natural elegance
In terms of green design materials, reclaimed wood is certainly one of the most versatile and beautiful. Its authentic charm is perfect in any built environment. It can complement laid-back or upscale spaces, and it works in tandem with a room’s existing décor. It especially shines in hospitality environments. Whether it’s used for the floors of a lounge, the walls of a restaurant, or to clad a reception desk, reclaimed wood can make customers and guests feel better and more satisfied with their experience.
5. Lobbies present wonderful opportunities for biophilic design
Lobby design is of increasing importance in the world of hospitality. Since lobbies are getting more use today than ever before, it makes sense to optimize them for guests and visitors. Best of all, lobby spaces are ideal for biophilic design, and whether your lobby is small or large, you can transform it into a sanctuary for your guests. Any sort of biophilic focal point will work wonders in a lobby. You may choose to install a small pond or focus attention on a reclaimed wood fireplace. A noticeable biophilic element in a lobby will ensure that guests receive all of the benefits associated with biophilia, and it’s a great way to give an outstanding first impression.
6. Seating areas can benefit greatly from potted plants
From Kinorigo: Potted plants are an easy way to add biophilic elements
Potted plants are small but mighty. Research demonstrates that they can help to purify the air even if air filters are already in use. They also reduce stress and thus facilitate more positive moods. Even just a few indoor plants will provide all these benefits, and when plants are combined with other biophilic elements, the indoor environmental quality of a space improves dramatically. Potted plants work particularly well in lounges and other seating areas, especially ones that don’t have a clear view of nature. As shown above, a few pops of greenery in a seating area can be incredibly effective in enhancing the biophilia effect.
7. Create clear sightlines to the natural world outside
One of the most important patterns of biophilic design is visual connection with nature. A direct sightline of nature often provides the most benefits for guests, especially if your building is located near trees or bodies of water. This can be crucial for hotels; Terrapin Bright Green found that the cost of a hotel room with a view of nature is typically 18% higher than a room without a view. Of course, if a view of nature isn’t feasible, you can simulate the results with other biophilic elements. An appealing natural vista will not only improve guest satisfaction but also increase the chances of them returning.
8. Bring uncommon outdoor elements inside
From Traveller Made: This inspired Portugal hotel includes a unique tree-through-table installation
For an especially creative way to implement biophilic design, take an uncommon natural element that exists outdoors and bring it indoors. This is the basic idea behind biophilic focal points like living walls and waterfalls, but there are many interesting ways to bring this concept to life. For example, the hotel pictured above features an indoor tree, which is both biophilic and novel. Other hospitality spaces have brought stone walls, large gardens, and even beaches indoors. The sight of an outdoor element in the built environment will generate interest among guests and can even encourage social interaction.
From the Daily Mail: This German resort’s one-of-a-kind indoor beach is a biophilic design haven
9. Find innovative ways to implement greenery
From Plant the Future: This eye-catching plant map is a wonderful and interesting biophilic focal point
There’s something to be said for coming up with new and exciting ways of showcasing greenery. The more visually interesting an installation is, the more guests will talk about it and enjoy it. This can be as simple as creating a wall garden of potted plants or as complex as installing larger topiaries. This is another concept that’s ideal to execute when an environment doesn’t have a direct and open view of nature.
10. Turn a room into an indoor garden
From Retail Design Institute: Lots of plants on the walls and throughout the room make this industrial space much more biophilic
I’ve already discussed the merits of potted plants and gardens: improved air quality, better biophilic impact, and heightened moods, to name a few. An alternative idea is to take a room and transform it into an indoor garden. Since this involves creating patches of soil in which plants may grow, it’s a more intensive biophilic design technique, but it’s extremely effective. Seating areas, event spaces, meeting rooms, and eating areas are a few types of indoor environments that can benefit from large gardens.
11. Experiment with raw, unfinished biophilic elements
Connection with natural systems is one of the patterns of biophilic design I’ve discussed in this article, but it’s so important that it deserves its own section. A connection with natural systems reflects the ongoing changes and processes present in various ecosystems. Some examples include erosion, weathering, aging, and plant cycles. This is one of the reasons why reclaimed wood is such a boon to biophilic design; its natural variances are perfect for creating a connection with natural systems. Other unfinished natural materials like rough stone can strengthen the connection.
12. Ample wood fosters serenity in hotel rooms
When your guests are looking to get a good night’s sleep, they’ll be expecting a calming hotel room in which to relax at the end of the day. Since wood works to reduce stress, it’s an ideal material for hotel rooms. It will work with existing elements in the room (like a perfectly made bed or a view of nature) to make your guests feel cozy and at home.
Biophilic design is largely becoming the norm for all kinds of hospitality spaces. Guests expect more than ever, and biophilic design is an effective answer to these ever growing demands and needs. By implementing a few of these concepts, your hospitality space can easily stand out and create an unforgettable experience that will keep people coming back for more.