Category Archives: Culture & Play

A Week at the 2017 London Design Festival

Gretchen Wagner

Take a trip with me to London and see the design world’s latest and greatest.

London Design Festival hits the streets of London in September every year, occupying different design districts across town. So get your Oyster card or wave down a black cab, because I’m taking you back and forth across the city all week. Thankfully, London Design Festival coincides with Fashion Weeks across the world — there’s no loss for inspiration, no matter where find yourself.

Everyone hates getting back from a design show only to realize the most epic moments were overlooked by your itinerary — so after loads of research, here’s a schedule to keep you on track throughout the journey.

Tuesday

Stay at some cute hotel in South Kensington so you can wake up early, grab some coffee and pastries on your way to the Victoria & Albert Museum — see the epic site specific installations by Flynn Talbot and Ross Lovegrove and catch the lecture on color by Margrethe Odgaard. Faye Toogood’s exhibition “The Tradeshow” is right around the corner. Browse through this unique space fabulously curated with design objects from some of your favorite designers (Tom Dixon, Max Lamb etc.) and some new designers too!

London Design Festival 2017: Hella Jongerius, “Breathing Color” Exhibition at the Design Museum

Hella Jongerius, “Breathing Color” Exhibition at the Design Museum

Lunch near the South Kensington tube station and follow up with a trip to the Design Museum to see the last week of “Breathing Color,” an exhibition on color fluctuations by Hella Jongerius (this will change your life).

Wednesday

Take a quick walkthrough of 100% Design tradeshow in the morning. Make a point to walk through the emerging designers section, then head to Southbank for a dose of modern inspiration at the Tate Modern. Soak in Gerhard Richter and other contemporaries. Enjoy a glass of rosé during lunch along with a gorgeous view of London before heading to Mayfair.

London Design Festival 2017: Scenes of London

Left: The Streets of Soho, Right: Evening in Mayfair

Explore the Mayfair district, stopping in at The Graduates show curated by Lidewij Edelkoort (worth the trip to see a few pieces from Thomas Ballouhey’s “Ways of Altering”). Make an appearance at the Paul Smith flagship store (totally dreamy!), then head just around the corner to Dimore Studio. Afterward, walk over to the David Zwirner gallery to see whatever is currently exhibiting (currently, Suzan Frecon and Lucas Arruda). You may need espresso at this point, so go at your own pace. Then it’s cocktails at Glade in Sketch followed by dinner somewhere near Carnaby.

Thursday

Dedicate the majority of your day to hanging around in Shoreditch —no complaints here. First stop is London Design Fair, an enormous show where every turn leads you deeper into a labyrinth of warehouse rooms filled with beautiful objects. It’s an opportunity to see some of the year’s biggest emerging designers showcasing all in one place. Don’t worry about sticking with your squad; wandering is the best approach here. Form & Seek has a truly stellar exhibition (Rive Roshan is an all time favorite of mine), and design collectives from around the world are displaying contemporary material use mixed with technical superiority.

London Design Festival 2017: Flynn Talbot, "Reflection Room" at the Victoria & Albert Museum

Flynn Talbot, “Reflection Room” at the Victoria & Albert Museum

For lunch at the Ace, go ahead and order that full bottle of wine — you earned it. Take a cab to Kings Cross for Design Junction and to see Camille Walala’s epic inflatable Memphis-inspired bouncy castle. Followed up with dinner at Dishoom.

Friday

Wake up at the crack of dawn and take a black cab to the airport. Your head is tired, your heart is full, but just think – you’re almost home.

XOXO

Gretchen

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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

Posted in Category Biomimicry, Biophilic Design, Culture & Play | Leave a comment

Milan Design Week: Inspiration and Trends

Kari Pei

Milan Design Week 2016. A feast for the designer’s eye and a great time to soak up all sorts of inspiration and new design trends.

This year at Salone Mobile, I saw a playful, ‘70s’ influence throughout furniture and accessories, but modernized and spiced up with new twist on scale, shine and texture. A combination of metallic and matte surfaces, rounded corners and sleek Ming style influences dominated the show. Woven looks showed up frequently in seats, backs, canopies and bags, in everything from wide bands to thin strips of twine.

Milan Design Week

Furniture and accessories with a playful ’70’s influence, modernized and spiced up with a new twist.

Privacy cocooning was also prevalent through an abundance of canopy/winged chairs for one or more. Combined with oversized objects; including lamps and planters, the whimsy was underscored. Drawing even more emphasis on the adolescent themes were the many objects from a ‘70’s childhood made adult by gold plating.

Milan Design Week

Privacy cocooning combined with oversized objects add to the whimsical theme.

Giant plants and an abundance of foliage dominated the scene, lending support to the benefits of biophilic design. These indoor plants were often paired with furniture normally designed for the outdoors, like a picnic table lowered and made into an office coffee table, an interesting way to cultivate more of the “I’m really outside” mentality.

Milan Design Week

Giant plants and an abundance of foliage lend support to the benefits of biophilic design.

And the colors? I’d narrow them down to three distinct themes: the Dutch Masters, Giorgio Morandi and super brights with muted neutrals.

Milan Design Week

A variety of colors from super brights to muted neutrals.

Of course I snapped thousands of photos to capture all of the inspiring design during Milan Design Week, but my favorites are up on our Pinterest board. Take a peek below.

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Atlanta BeltLine Transforms the Future of Urban Planning

Lauren White

The future of urban planning is taking shape in Atlanta, thanks to Ryan Gravel and his BeltLine project.

Described as “the most comprehensive transportation and economic development effort ever undertaken in the City of Atlanta and among the largest, most wide-ranging urban redevelopment programs currently underway in the United States,” the Atlanta BeltLine is a sustainable redevelopment project along a 22-mile railroad corridor that was conceived by Gravel as a master’s thesis at Georgia Tech in 1999. The project will connect surrounding neighborhoods through railway, nature trails and parks and greenspaces and provide new housing, events and commerce for the city.

BeltLine Map_575x350

Map of the 22-mile BeltLine surrounding Atlanta.

There’s a great article about this Atlanta “transit makeover” from USA Today here.

Though it has a ways to go to completion, the BeltLine project has already transformed parts of the city from an economic wasteland to an economic hot spot and cultural center.

Fourth Ward Park

Historic Fourth Ward Park south of Ponce City Market and west of the BeltLine trail. (Photo credit: Atlanta BeltLine)

Look at the Ponce City Market as an example. It’s a mixed use development in the renovated Sears, Roebuck & Company building in a neighborhood that used to be full of rock venues and adult entertainment clubs. Now it is a destination for local Atlantans, full of retail shops, restaurants and offices as well as host to many art, music and market events.

Gravel set up his office here in a space that’s inspired by nature. We found some great installations of Interface modular carpet tile throughout!

Gravel office_Atlanta_575x350

Human Nature by Interface, installed in Ryan Gravel’s office.

Gravel office 2_Atlanta_575x350

Another installation of Interface modular carpet, inspired by nature.

The building is pursuing a LEED Core & Shell Silver certification through water-efficient fixtures and landscaping, reclaiming rain water and other building-generated water, and using the latest in LED lighting and efficient HVAC systems.

Ponce City Market outside_Atlanta_575x350

Ponce City Market inside_Atlanta_575x350

Projects like the Atlanta BeltLine and Ponce City Market inspire and encourage Interface to continue Ray’s mantra of “doing well by doing good.”

Posted in Category Culture & Play, Project Spotlight, Sustainability | Leave a comment

A Ray of Hope – Ray C. Anderson Foundation Global Design Challenge

Interface

How would Mother Nature design a company? When posed by Interface founder Ray Anderson in 1994, that question became part of the radical conversation that would reshape the company he founded. In 2016, this kind of radical thinking will guide criteria for the first-ever Ray of Hope prize in recognition of inspired biomimicry-based solutions.

“Don’t look at images of Nature,” encouraged Janine Benyus, founder of the Biomimicry Institute and a member of Interface’s Eco Dream Team. “Look at her organizing principles.”

NF400 NF401 Felt

How would Mother Nature design a carpet tile?

Back in 1994, founder Ray Anderson had his “epiphany”—a sea change that would reinvent Interface, then in its 21st year. At that time, biomimicry was not yet the phenomenon it is today, but its underlying principle—looking to Nature’s design systems to solve problems—was intuitive and embraced by Ray. He challenged the company to become sustainable, but no one could know how a carpet company might accomplish it. After all, we were so dependent on petroleum for energy and inputs that we might as well have been an extension of the oil industry. The spark for change lay in the simple question—How would Mother Nature design a carpet tile?—and the results are compelling: 50 percent of Interface materials are from bio-based or recycled sources.

By establishing the $100,000 annual Ray of Hope prize, the Ray C. Anderson Foundation, in association with the Biomimicry Institute, will recognize students, designers or other visionaries who are developing market-ready, scalable, biomimicry-inspired solutions. The prize complements the Global Design Challenge, also sponsored by the Foundation and the Biomimicry Institute, which launched in 2015. The first two years of the Challenge are focused on solutions to improve global food security, and will progress every two years through other global challenges.

Biomimicry Global Design Challenge

#Thinkoutside to fix our food system.

Both the Challenge and the Ray of Hope prize are designed to drive great ideas out of the lab and into the market where they can make the biggest impact.

As Ray would say, “So right, and so smart.

Posted in Category Biomimicry, Culture & Play, Sustainability | 1 Comment