Welcoming Biophilia in Hospitality

Interface

Ever since E.O. Wilson introduced the notion of biophilia in his 1984 book of the same name, there has been mounting evidence that humans are innately drawn to the natural world. It has been proven that views of nature enhance healing and that natural light promotes better learning. Clearly, our connection with nature has a pervasive influence. And design can be used to very effectively bridge the gap between the natural world and even the most urban environments. This phenomenon has been explored and documented in the workplace, in classrooms and in health facilities, where it shows a direct relationship to increased productivity, creativity and wellbeing. This has sparked great interest in how biophilic design might enhance the guest experience in hospitality.

hotel lobby

Design can be used to bridge the gap between the natural world and even the most urban environments. (Product: Human Nature Collection)

When asked about what impact the global trend towards biophilia is having on the hospitality industry, Lorraine Francis, director of hospitality interiors for Gensler, takes a long pause. “I feel passionate about that and I have an idea about the design science of things, but I think it’s been hard to articulate within the hospitality market.” She cites studies that have been done for the healthcare sector that examine how certain healing and wellness initiatives make financial sense by resulting in less PTO, for example. But when it comes to hospitality, there is currently very little quantified evidence to support biophilia. Which is why Francis is embarking on a research project in collaboration with several industry peers to come up with the metrics to make that possible. The goal of this project boils down to figuring out how to measure comfort, which translates into longer stays and increases repeat business. “You know when you walk into a space and you feel good, and when you walk into a space and you feel like it’s too tall or too wide or there’s some mechanical thing overhead that makes you feel creepy,” she explains. “It’s really hard to express that feeling, but that’s exactly what we need to interpret for the hospitality industry, because this kind of very fundamental reaction is what affects loyalty and, ultimately, dollars.”

This means examining every part of the guest room experience, from the bed to the pillows to the alarm clock, and understanding how the neurological system is affected by a direct connection to nature, whether through a window view or a carpet design. Studies exist that look at the number of steps taken to complete certain tasks; track where people gravitate to in a room; and determine where they sleep better. But Francis also sees the need to understand how this plays out in lobbies and indoor/outdoor public spaces. “How do you get around those long corridors? How do you let light in?” The answers to these questions are sure to illuminate a new, nature-inspired path in hospitality design—one that leads to a more efficient, more sustainable and much more comfortable world. One key touchpoint for Francis is Bill Browning’s 14 Patterns of Biophilic Design, published in 2014 by Terrapin Bright Green, which thoughtfully expounds upon “the relationships between nature, human biology and the design of the built environment.” To facilitate the transition from research to application, it posits a system of patterns that encourages the widespread design implementation of biophilia. “The way that Bill looked at biophilic design for office spaces is a model for our approach to hospitality,” says Francis, “and we need to make biophilia a bigger part of the conversation in this industry.”

hospitality guest room

Measuring the comfort of a space means examining every part of the guest room experience and understanding how the neurological system is affected by a direct connection to nature, whether through a window view or a carpet design. (Product: Springtime in Paris)

At Gensler, Francis oversees a multimillion-dollar design business that includes projects like the $40-million renovation and ballroom addition at The Phoenician in Scottsdale, AZ, and the $15-million public space renovation at the Sheraton Kauai Resort in Poipu Beach, HI. She got her start as an engineer and worked for Gensler earlier in her career before founding her own company, Càdiz Collaboration, to provide architectural, interior design and green consulting services to major spas and hospitality brands such as Xanterra Parks & Resorts, for whose El Tovar Hotel she sourced all materials within 500 miles of the property’s location on the Grand Canyon’s South Rim.

A major proponent of sustainability, Francis is a thought leader when it comes to calibrating the ideal balance between environmental awareness, powerful design and the bottom line. In an effort to make progressive movement in greening the hospitality industry, she founded Hotels+Green. This forum for sharing tips, case studies and best practices helps hospitality professionals stay current on sustainability trends and understand why sustainable hotels not only don’t cost more but can lead to savings, profitability and increased brand loyalty.

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A Love Letter to Nature

Interface

Dear Nature,

We didn’t always love you the way we do now. In fact for our first 21 years, we didn’t even realize how intrinsically we were connected to you. We didn’t know that our every action affects you. But then we were awakened, and we fell so deeply in love with you that others called us crazy. And our love for you transformed every aspect of ourselves – how we operate, how we make decisions – even our purpose. After all, how can a business be successful if it is harming you, the source of our life support system?

clouds in nature

Nature, do you remember the first time we came seeking your inspiration? We put aside our brash belief that we could solve every problem by ourselves, and we asked for your guidance. Admiring the beautiful and chaotic floors of your forests and meadows, we let go of our need to make every tile identical, and we embraced the untapped power of diversity. The world loved your innovative solution too.

Now here we are, decades into our love affair, and we are still learning from you—how your patterns can heal us, how your models can guide us. And we believe that reconnecting with our love for you will not only lead us to more circular systems, but also help us become healthier and more productive too. How amazing to learn that spending time with you, or in spaces designed to be evocative of you, may result in reduced stress levels, faster healing rates, and improved cognitive functioning!

room with nature light

We are finally learning from your generosity and asking ourselves what it would mean for us to be generous too. How could we contribute to spaces that facilitate wellbeing? How could our factories replenish your ecosystems? We are striving to be more like you and know we need your guidance now more than ever.

With love,
Interface

Fall back in love with nature and join the David Suzuki Foundation’s 30×30 Nature Challenge. Sign up here!

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Designing With Color: Turquoise

Interface

Evoking scenes from the Mediterranean to the American southwest, turquoise can take your designs into uncharted territory. This infographic will equip you with theory and techniques for your journey.

turquoise color

In the turquoise family, aquamarine provides a feeling of serenity and calm. Each aqua shade works harmoniously with one another and shades of cool grey highlight and accompany the palette. Interior products have embraced this color theme and team well with soft structured textiles, subtle lines are subtle patterns.

turquoise palette

Find more inspiration on our turquoise Pinterest board:

 

Resources:
HGTV Color Guide
2010 Color of the Year, Pantone 15-5519 Turquoise
Talking Turquoise
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Connection to Nature – An Interview with Sir Cary Cooper

Interface

As some of the world’s most forward-thinking designs seek to integrate the efficient ingenuity of some of Nature’s rarer creations, the case for incorporating the most basic of natural elements – sunlight and green plants – has reemerged with renewed vigor.

Equal Measure

Workplaces that incorporate natural elements, such as greenery and sunlight, can increase productivity levels.

The findings of a survey of 7,600 workers in 16 countries led by Sir Cary Cooper, Professor of Organizational Psychology and Health at Lancaster University and co-founder of Robertson-Cooper, make the unambiguous case for biophilia in the workplace. According to the survey, workplaces that incorporate natural elements, such as greenery and sunlight, report productivity levels 6 percent higher than those without these elements.

The productivity boost adds up to compelling numbers. According to one example in Cooper’s report, while it can cost about $1,000 to shift the position of a workstation in one office so that an employee’s peripheral vision can take in the window view, the resulting 6 percent increase in the employee’s call processing capacity equaled about a $3,000 return.

Human Spaces Report

Source: Human Spaces Report

Still, only 42 percent of the employees surveyed report having live plants in their offices and 47 percent report having no natural light. “Working in an office is not where we come from,” said Cooper. “Offices are intrinsically antithetical to our nature.” It’s not surprising that the advantages of biophilia in the workplace don’t equate exclusively to the hard measure of productivity gains. Employees in the Robertson-Cooper survey reported a 15 percent increase in creativity, along with a 15 percent higher level of well-being when working in spaces with natural elements—two measures typically associated with job satisfaction and engagement. Perhaps most remarkable about the survey results was their consistency, said Cooper. The countries included in the survey are at varying stages of urbanization, and though some preferred greenery and others water ponds or sunlight, the longing to bring the outside inside and the corresponding boons to productivity, creativity and well-being were universal.

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Designing With Color: Neutrals

Interface

Color choice can evoke mood, communicate subtle messages—even boost productivity. Where warm colors excite and cooler hues are calming, neutrals can provide a canvas for either, giving designers a wide array of options.

neutral color infographic

Meaning
Most people perceive neutral shades as “subdued” or “reserved”— more subtle than attention-getting blues and reds. Neutrals often connote stability, especially the cooler greys. Imagine the solid feel of stone or concrete. Depending on what’s around them, some neutrals (like beige) are chameleons, taking on characteristics of neighboring warm or cool colors.

Follow Interface’s board Colour | Warm Neutral on Pinterest.

Mood
Neutral colors evoke different types of moods. Using a grey palette can lend an air of formality to an environment. Depending on execution, it may suggest confidence or conservatism. Lighter greys and off-whites can be a good choice when you want a look that’s fresh, clean, refined. If a calm, relaxed vibe is desired, neutrals with warmer hints from the orange or yellow family may do the trick. At the cool end of the spectrum, notes of blue add an air of elegance, especially the darker hues.

Follow Interface’s board Colour | Cool Neutral on Pinterest.

Uses
To aid concentration and reduce eye-strain in a work environment, choose neutrals as a base and add narrow accents in brighter colors. Use neutrals as the foundation when designing around colorful furniture or accent walls. Neutrals in the darker grey family can form a sophisticated backdrop if not overused. Mood-lighteners may include whites, warm hues or both. Warmer-temperature neutrals (taupe, ecru) impart the organic feel of the natural world. Use them to instill a space with calm and quietude.

neutrals installations

Use neutrals to instill a space with calm and quietude.

Palette
The neutral color trend shown in this palette is calming and peaceful. Shades are chalky and light in texture, creating a watercolor effect and resulting in colors blending and merging together. Neutral colors may be used in a tonal manor. In commercial spaces, neutrals can flood fill or zone off particular areas.

tinted neutrals collage

Resources:
WGSN
Neutral Color Symbolism
About Beige
Can’t Focus? Your Office Paint Color Might Be To Blame
Decorating With Neutrals
Gray Color Meaning
Wikipedia article on Grey
Warm Grey vs. Cool Grey
The Hidden Power of Neutrals
Interface’s Design With Purpose blog
Neutral Color Schemes & Neutral Paint Colors: How To Put Neutral Color Palettes Together

 

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