Category Archives: Biophilic Design

Better Habitats for Humans – Part 1

David Gerson

The Living Future unConference in Seattle celebrated its 11th anniversary this May. The enthusiasm for creating buildings and interiors that support positive, healthy and equitable environments for all was palpable.

The kick off to three days of learning, sharing and festivities was the 2nd annual Biophilic Design Summit. The goal for this year’s program was to provide a day of learning and interactive experiences that took attendees beyond the more familiar aspects of biophilic design and explore lesser practiced patterns, such as non-rhythmic sensory stimulation.

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Members of the Biophilic Design Advisory board who helped to shape and facilitate the event. From left to right: Richard Placenti, Sonja Bochart, Vivian Loftness, Amanda Sturgeon, Julia Africa, Bill Browning, David Gerson, Nicole Isle and Judi Heerwagen (Not pictured: Edna Catumbela and Denise DeLuca)

The day began with the renowned author, speaker and practitioner of biophilic design, Judi Heerwagen of the US General Services Administration. Her presentation centered on how we could create better “Habitats for Humans.” She challenged us to consider our built spaces from an evolutionary psychology and biology perspective and incorporate the aspects of our ancient habitats that made us feel safe and connected to our tribe. In short, a green wall or windows alone cannot create a “habitat.” It must be holistic and integrated.

She also provided striking examples of modern habitats that are drastically different. Some incorporated our innate needs as living beings and others discounted them in favor of convenient, yet draining environments.

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Although Judi showed numerous examples of good human habitat design, she focused in on six key points:

  • Focus on indoor geography – prospect, refuge, pathways
  • Create an indoor atmosphere with daylight, sky and operable windows
  • Provide sensory change and variability
  • Support social engagement
  • Use natural patterns
  • Enable ongoing connection to nature

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Buildings can do more than simply house people. They can create habitats that fulfill our needs to connect with the earth, nature and each other.

For more information on the effects of biophilic design in the workplace, check out the Human Spaces research report.

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Biophilic Design – A Pathway to WELL Certification

David Gerson

I had the pleasure to visit ASID’s new HQ, the first space to receive both the WELL Platinum and LEED Platinum certifications. Becoming the first space to receive both the WELL Platinum and LEED Platinum certifications makes it truly one of a kind. ASID and Perkins+Will partnered to create an exceptional space that speaks to who they are and what they value. They wanted to be on the cutting edge of modern workspace design, but also create a space that was restorative to their people with minimal negative impact to the environment.

From the moment you walk in and are greeted by the virtual assistant at the front door, you know you are walking into the future. The new ASID National Headquarters was built as a living lab dedicated to creating a premier workspace for its employees, but also to study the effects of some of the key elements of that space that address human health and well-being.

ASID HQ

Evidence-based design strategies were applied to create a space that is pleasing to the human eye, but also scientifically proven to address a wide range of issues, from cardiovascular health to sustainable agriculture.

One of the requirements for achieving WELL certification for building interiors is the incorporation of biophilic design. The WELL Building Standard aspires to “create an interior environment that nurtures the human-nature connection.”

WELL’s Biophilia Precondition (#88) deals with “Nature Incorporation.” The first major infusion of biophilic design is present even before you enter the glass front doors. The striking Net Effect carpet has a color and pattern that resembles the ocean. Beyond the aesthetics, the carpet is also created with 100 percent recycled nylon, which is partially made from fishing nets recovered from environmentally-sensitive coastal communities in Asia and Africa through the Net-Works program.

ASID HQ

The vegetated plant ledge, which extends throughout the space, simply and efficiently brings greenery through almost every workspace in the office. The ledge provides the same benefits as a green wall, but is much easier to maintain. From the front conference room to the meeting space in the back corner, plants brighten employees’ day, while also cleaning the air they breathe.

ASID HQ

ASID HQ

Some other notable biophilic elements used in this space include a magnified pattern of dragonfly wings on the interior glass to provide some visual privacy, a unique design detail and a subtle biomorphic pattern to the space. Abstract water patterns on the conference room walls also provide beauty, vibrant colors and a connection to nature.

ASID HQ

I am thrilled to see ASID leading their constituency to embrace WELL, LEED and the rising movement towards evidence-based design strategies.

Biophilia is inherent to us as human beings, and biophilic design provides a framework for us to build exceptional spaces enabling us to thrive and do our best possible work.

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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

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Pantone Color of the Year 2017: Greenery

Gretchen Wagner

2017 is finally here and with it comes the long anticipated opportunity to turn over a new leaf. In keeping with traditions it is also the time to celebrate Pantone’s Color of the Year, Greenery.

Throughout all seasons, Greenery is a reminder of vitality and prosperity; youthfulness and energy.

Greenery palette

Greenery hinges on the development of well being and self care trends that have been rising to the forefront of our minds while we contemplate the differences between health and healing, the group and the individual.

Shades of green are ubiquitous in nature. You can find Greenery nestled as a pop of color among soft pastels or paired with bolder shades of jewel toned orchids in an effort to transition us out of Winter. Root Greenery with deep mineral and rust tones for the perfect earthly balance and blur man made versus nature made by bringing the outdoors inside.

Greenery carpet palette

Ultimately, Greenery is about embracing our inherent connection to nature and the beneficial qualities that we absorb when surrounded by it. So as we transition and grow into 2017, remember to breathe deeply, enjoy matcha lattes and sliced avocados, barefoot walks along moss covered trails and cultivate some greenery in that urban apartment of yours.

Check out our Green Pinterest board below. Until next year my color loving friends. XOXO.

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TransferWise Transforms Office Design

Interface

Welcome to the era of a new “Googlefied” office. Tech start-ups have challenged conceptions of the modern working environment since companies such as Google and Facebook created their sought after workspaces, akin to playgrounds, for the professional generation Y. Now, scientific studies, including our Human Spaces report, have proven that worker’s concentration and productivity levels markedly improve when provided with variation and stimulation within the working environment.

Transferwise office

The three coordinating styles of Touch and Tones carpet tile offer a choice of pile height to make a space surprising.

Long gone are stale cubicle rows, dull carpets and strip lighting. In their place? Bright colors and artwork to inspire creativity. Break-out areas and the tools in which to “play,” interact and exchange ideas with colleagues. Quiet spaces with carefully refined acoustics in which to concentrate, escape and reflect for clarity of thought. These workplaces attract and retain the most talented of employees – and smart companies know that this is key in creating and maintaining a strong workforce in a competitive market.

Transferwise office

TransferWise harnessed this thinking for their recent office renovation in Estonia. As a fast-growing financial technology company (co-founded by an ex-Skype employee and backed by innovators such as Sir Richard Branson and PayPal founder, Peter Thiel) they are disrupting the world of currency exchange and flipping a gazillion dollar industry on its head.

Transferwise office

Interface is represented in Estonia by the agency Tekero, who has a great knowledge of design and understanding of the market. Tekero worked with interior design architects  Krista Thomson and Kärt Loopalu from bureau Superellips in designing the project. Young, creative and energetic, the TransferWise team boasts 30 plus nationalities within its staff. Krista and Kärt sought to reflect this in their playful and animated design, creating distinctive meeting rooms that pay respect to the interior styles of the team’s diverse cultures.

Transferwise office

Spanish warm yellows, a nod to Japan with calming white and red tones and a sumptuous Russian-themed room, amongst others, all invoke a relaxed and unique feel. The pièce de résistance? The iconic Unicorn Room. Guaranteed to start conversations and inspire a sense of fun.

Transferwise office

Designers Krista and Kärt sought to create workspaces that discouraged endless hours behind a computer at a fixed desk. Open, well-lit areas incorporating elements of biophilic design with green plants and huge windows create space and a sense of harmony. They provided an alternative solution to the modern grind and set the scene for employees to move around and really shake things up – sitting, lounging, meeting and even napping within a single space. It’s a non-traditional office environment that encourages a more social and collaborative dynamic – and it’s the future.

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