Living Future of Design

Earlier this month I had the pleasure of attending the International Living Future Institute (IFLI) UnConference in Seattle, Washington. The ILFI is a non-profit organization who’s mission is to lead the transformation toward a civilization that is socially just, culturally rich, and ecologically restorative. They provide education and guidelines for people around the world to create healthier workplaces, thriving communities, inspiring products, and beautiful buildings through biophilic design.  

Amazon Spheres

Amazon Spheres

Okay, so what is biophilic design and why should you be interested in it? Biophilic Design is the practice of connecting people and nature within our built environment and communities. This is relevant to the workplace as nature is a proven tool that can reduce stress and increase cognitive function. When nature and nature elements are integrated into the workplace, the employees using that space benefit from increased productivity, wellness and happiness. Can you name an employer who does NOT want happier, healthier and more productive employees? 

The theme for the ILFI Unconference was Collaboration and Abundance. The International Living Future Institute is all about cross-industry collaboration. They believe regenerative design can only happen when all voices are brought to the table. Some highlights of the conference were touring the Amazon Spheres (blog coming soon) and meeting and learning from thought-leaders like Bill Browning of Terrapin Bright Green, Elizabeth Freeman Calebrese, Lindsay James and David Gerson.

Additionally, I was asked to speak at a workshop led by Tim McGee, Manager of Biophilic Design. My topic was on cultural change and its importance in the biophilic design process. As many of the attendees of the Unconference were architects, engineers and leaders for the built environment, the focus of my discussion was on the imperative to include behavior and culture change as part of the build process. Buildings and spaces that showcase nature are great for enabling behavior that maximizes the built environment. However, we still need to guide the occupants of these spaces to best utilize the benefits of biophilic design to impact their effectiveness, engagement and well-being. Think of it as symbiotic, meaning both behavior and environment are needed to produce optimum results for the occupants. If companies want more productive, happier and healthier employees, they should have the built environment that enables that outcome. Conversely, to maximize the work environment, companies should also invest in building a culture of work that enables those behaviors, routines and habits that has people being their best at work and in life.

Mount Rainier in the Seattle skyline

Mount Rainier in the Seattle skyline

The example I used was my own on experience of climbing Mt. Rainier. The first time I saw its magnificence in the skyline from Seattle, I was drawn to go to the National Park and later attempt to climb the highest glaciated volcano in the lower 48 states. It was the naturally built environment of Mt. Rainier that inspired my behavior to shift into one of learning, and training — to become a mountaineer. I had to add new routines to my life so that I could be mentally and physically prepared to climb and summit Mt. Rainier. The environment inspired my journey, and my behavior enabled my summit. It was after reaching the top of this beautiful and treacherous mountain that I realized: everyone looks up to the mountaintop, but not everyone has the opportunity to experience the awe and views from the top. We need environments that enable us to thrive. We also need behaviors like habits and routines, to help us excel in those environments.

Ozadi specializes in behavioral education that enables nature into the culture of work and work routines that optimize employee effectiveness, well-being and happiness. Biophilic design enables that behavior that Ozadi is advocating for. Our relationship is symbiotic and we need both environment and behavior to fully be at our best.


I am grateful to Tim McGee and Amanda Sturgeon, CEO of IFLI, for allowing me the opportunity to bring my voice to the table and share how integrating nature in our everyday work routines adds to the abundance that nature can provide to workplace.  

Read about the ILFI Biophilic Design Initiative and
learn more on the impact and benefits  biophilia has on the workplace:

Let us know your thoughts in the comments below or on social media.

It’s time for the Nature of Work to be Working with Nature.

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