• Darlene Hollywood

The Make-Up of an Office That Truly Thrives

The biophilia hypothesis suggests that humans possess an innate tendency to seek connections with nature and other forms of life. While phobias represent things we fear, philias symbolize things we need and love. Now in the dead of winter, I find myself more absorbed with the idea of biophilia than ever.

In a job long ago… I sat a coffin-shaped office, in an interior hall, with a single small window of a door that looked into the office across. I liked the job; I loathed the office. While I’ve never thought of myself as claustrophobic, sitting in that diminutive room had an adverse effect on my psyche. The space itself confined not only my physical being, but my mind as well.

That constriction has informed the design of each of our offices (three of which we’ve outgrown), and especially our current home in the Hingham Shipyard, custom-designed by me and my staff. Lined with windows on every side and sweeping views of the ocean, natural light flows as innately as the water outside. As a creative shop the importance of this can’t be understated. Natural light encourages both inspiration and imagination.

While you may not be able to recreate as picturesque a scene, consider plants and pets to foster a biophilic atmosphere.


I don’t need to cite specific studies on the various benefits derived from office plants. The topic is well documented. But according to Ambius, an interior landscaping company, advantages of foliage in the workplace includes: stress reduction, improved air quality, a decrease in the symptoms associated with “sick building syndrome” (a medical condition whereby people suffer from illness frequently attributed to HVAC systems), and a lessening of noise pollution. So often people offer the excuse that they don’t have a green thumb. Simply visit Ikea, Lowes or Home Depot for a selection of indoor plants that will practically tell you when they need a drink.


Yes, by all means invite the teams’ dogs to the office – if you can get away with it. Ryan’s English Golden Retreiver, Monty, is a regular. Again, there’s plenty of research showcasing that animals are good for people. TheNational Institute on Healthoffers that interacting with animals has been shown to decrease levels of cortisol (a stress-related hormone) and lower blood pressure. Other studies have found that animals can reduce loneliness, increase feelings of social support, and boost your mood.

But dogs alone don’t make up the kingdom, so if there’s an allergy in the office you might need an alternative. Jessie, a six-year old bearded dragon, has been our mascot for several years. Then recently, the adoption of Lizzo, a gecko (not sure what kind), and Franklin, a turtle (again, no idea on the species), built out our four-legged team.

Not everyone has to revel in the idea of reptiles, but they’re easy to care for, entertaining to watch, and ecologically enhancing.

Bottom line: biophilia makes people feel good. When people feel good, business is good and there’s nothing unnatural about that.

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