OHD was recently involved in an exciting project in the Leman Locke Hotel in Whitechapel. The Joy of Plants invited us to create an installation in one of the hotel rooms, designed to enhance the wellbeing and productivity of a business traveller. The installation involved the careful selection and placement of approximately 150 plants!
Our design for the Joy of Plants focused around providing a diverse series of spaces within a hotel suite, to support the various needs of a business traveller. We divided the room into; a space for healthy sleep (to promote cognitive function and mood), a space for sociable relaxation (to enhance possible collaboration), a work zone for focused tasks, a kitchen/dining area and bathroom.
Planting was selected to enhance the feel and purpose of each zone. In the bedroom for example, we positioned Lavender and Snake Plants alongside the bed for their sleep enhancing properties. Snake plants, unlike many other house plants, release oxygen at night making them perfect for bedrooms! We broke up the space with a planted room divider full of plants with air cleaning properties such as peace lilies, spider plants and Boston ferns (all of which have been shown to absorb VOCs from the air). We were careful to also select planting with perforated or translucent foliage to avoid cutting out too much light.
The sociable area of the room was surrounded by planted troughs to envelop the sofa areas in a fringing of lush, leafy green making the space feel sheltered and comfortable. Hanging planting was also positioned on a frame in the floor to ceiling windows, meaning that occupants looked, from the sofa, through the trailing plants out over a long view of London.
In the kitchen, dining and work area, engaging planting with a high level of texture and pattern was prioritised (and of course edible planting was chosen for the kitchen counter.)
As part of the project, the Joy of Plants published a leaflet filled with biophilic hints and tips which was placed in the room for any hotel guests to read. We had the following tips for enhancing health and wellbeing via a heightened connection to nature:
- Surround yourself with plants: A study titled the Global Impact of Biophilic Design in the Workplace polled 7,600 employees across 16 countries. The findings demonstrated that people who work in spaces with natural features reported 15% higher levels of overall wellbeing. Furthermore, the respondents expressed feeling 6% more productive and 15% more creative at work.
- Draw the curtains and open the windows: Longer distance views, away from computer screens or written documents, allow the eyes to adjust and re-focus, which reduces fatigue, headaches and the effects of eye strain over long periods of time. Fresh air helps workers to think better, and improves productivity. ‘Non-Rhythmic Sensory Stimuli’ from unpredictable motion as found in nature (e.g.: grass swaying, ripples on water, or leaves in a breeze) can particularly help with these things if we refocus our vision every 20 minutes, for 20 seconds, on something 20 feet away (also known as the 20x20x20 rule).
- Use scenting to stimulate memory and prompt a feeling of wellbeing. Flowers like lavender and jasmine have the ability to lower anxiety – ‘1 scent can reawaken 1000 memories’ – ‘Scent has also been shown to enhance mood by as much as 40%’. Further, a study conducted on participants staying at an urban hotel for 3 nights found that vaporised stem oil from Hinoki Cypress trees created a 20% increase in NK cells (cells that protect us from disease) and reduced stress hormones adrenaline and noradrenaline.
- Add captivating images of nature and/or natural colours on to your walls: The Ecological Valence Theory explains our responses to certain colours, particularly those found in nature. For example, yellows remind us of warmth, and thus contribute to feelings of happiness and being welcomed into a space.
- Nature sound-scaping such as a babbling brook or flowing river can create a more positive atmosphere, in turn rejuvenating the senses and bringing a natural restorative connection to your space. Introducing natural sounds can also positively stimulate the nervous system and reduce stress. (Try downloading the Noisli app to improve focus and boost productivity).