Amidst the whirlwind of modern office life, the profound impact of lighting and nature on our well-being and productivity often goes unnoticed. However, much like a symphony of elements in flawless harmony, the convergence of these two forces can generate a workplace that is not only functional, but also deeply enriching for those seeking productivity in their workplace, whether at a company or in their homes. Just as a painter deftly blends colors on a canvas, the strategic interplay of lighting and nature in an office space —whether a traditional office, a co-working space, or a home office— can create a masterpiece of an environment that nurtures rather than dampens.
Lighting commands the spotlight when it comes to setting the mood and tone of a space. Without light, the very existence of space would be imperceptible, as it is light that bestows visibility upon it. Moreover, the type of light employed determines the unique character and appearance of the space, casting it in a particular ambiance. Light, both a conductor and an artist, orchestrates the ambiance of a space with unparalleled mastery. Its interplay of intensity, color, and direction transcends the ordinary, elevating the mundane to the extraordinary and transforming the dull to the dramatic. Through its luminous presence or subtle absence, light shapes our perception of the environment, evoking a spectrum of emotions and exquisitely influencing our mood. Like an artist wielding a brush, light sculpts the visual landscape, revealing the beauty and character of the space with its radiant brushstrokes.
Today, it is common to find most interiors with lighting elements flooding the place into a completely highlighted and oversaturated space. But without darkness, there is no light, and to reveal that duality, and embracing its various nuances might elevate the space aesthetically by, for instance, recreating the interplay of dark shadows, akin to those cast by the sun under trees or on the sides of rocks.
Hidemi Iinuma, a Tokyo-based interior designer, emphasizes the profound impact of sunlight on the human body in its cyclical change of light.
“From a well-being perspective,” said Iinuma, “an office that welcomes the morning sun, bathes in ample daylight throughout the day, and gradually dims in the evening can align with the natural rhythms of the human body. Of course, weather conditions may sometimes disrupt the ideal light levels. Even if artificial lighting is installed as a supplementary source, providing 100% brightness may not always be necessary, as the interplay of natural and artificial light can create a balanced and harmonious environment for optimal productivity and happiness in a workplace.”
Singapore's first gin distillery, Tanglin Gin, opened its own bar, the Gin Jungle at Dempsey Hill in late 2021. Set beautifully in an old military barrack and amidst lush tropical greenery, Singapore-based interior advisor Lisa-Maria Koch, recently reviewed its interior to better reflect a contemporary Singaporean identity.
"We used an open structure and invited the green surroundings into the internal space," said Koch, "which in turn reflected the exterior through the use of wood and muted earthy colours. Additionally, we allowed the trickle of light that comes through the jungle foliage to cast its play on the dark teak wood furniture. Sparingly used pops of color are used to mimic the tropical flowers. Though not an office, but a space where staff and customers interact; we were conscious about the soothing effect on the neocortex that a clean and natural interior has on both employees and guests alike."
Artificial lighting may be a necessity in most offices, but not all lighting is created equal. Biophilic lighting is the graceful art of mimicking natural light patterns in indoor spaces. With dynamic lighting that changes color temperature and intensity, it's like bringing a slice of the sun into the office. Biophilic lighting can help regulate our circadian rhythm, keeping our bodies in sync with the natural day and night cycle. Studies have shown that this can lead to improved sleep quality and increased well-being.
Lighting doesn't have to be a solo act. Nature is the perfect partner to create a workplace that truly stands out. Similar to how a breath of fresh air rejuvenates the soul, the presence of nature in office spaces can breathe new life into the atmosphere, revitalizing the mood and productivity of those working. Green walls, indoor plants, and views of nature can add a trace of vitality to the office environment.
"Incorporating the soothing embrace of natural light and the refreshing presence of verdant plants into the intricate tapestry of office design can unveil a truly enchanting work environment," explained Joyce del Rosario, a design manager at The Office Designer studio in the Philippines. "This thoughtful integration not only cultivates a more pleasant and healthy ambiance, but also fosters a sense of vitality that translates into heightened productivity and contentment."
Having a piece of the great outdoors right at your desk provides a much-needed respite from the fluorescent lights, concrete walls, and the hum of computers. Exposure to nature in the workplace can reduce stress, boost creativity, and improve cognitive function. It’s almost like the drug that no one sings about.
The combination of biophilic lighting and nature can create a workplace that is truly unforgettable. It's like a sonata of natural light, lush greenery, and happy workers in perfect harmony. The interplay of lighting and nature can create a holistic and rejuvenating work environment that fosters well-being and productivity.
The transformative potential of lighting and nature in the modern office setting cannot be overstated. Beyond their mere functionality, these elements possess the profound ability to inspire creativity, invigorate energy, and elevate the overall well-being and productivity of workers. A truly effective office interior should not isolate itself from the natural environment, but rather seamlessly integrate and melt into it.