Category Archives: Design Inspirations

Inspired Design with Skinny Planks

Gretchen Wagner

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I’ve been playing with skinny planks for a little over a year now and am still finding endless ways to design floors with this new shape. In math terms, the skinny plank is 25 cm x 1 m, which is exactly half the width and twice the length of our square tile. In design terms, the geometry of the skinny plank lends itself to work perfectly with the square and wide plank modules that are also available in our design kit.

At first Ashlar and Herringbone installations are what come to mind when using the skinny planks in designs, but there is even more potential when you start seeking inspiration outside the ordinary. Whether it is a single color installation, creating chevrons and stripes or going completely off the grid with a pixeled herringbone design, inspiration slowly starts to creep in from all sides and suddenly everything reminds me of the skinny plank and how I can mix color, pattern and texture to create a one of a kind floor.

With the revolutionary elongated shape, the skinny plank blends its side seams so perfectly that a modular tile begins to emulate broadloom installations. Such an elegant shape paired with sophisticated neutrals and plush textures from a product like UR501TM and you can take a room from ordinary to luxurious.

Now, let’s push the envelope a little bit further by incorporating a product, such as On LineTM, that is inherently bold. A single colorway from On Line can can create a seamless modern look to the floor, but when paired with coordinating colorways you can begin to explore a world of design possibility. Using one of the inspired images from above, visualize the individual colored tiles as different colorways and suddenly you have a completely magical floor that is both well-designed and waste efficient.

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A: Duo & Trio: Granite, Ashlar Installation / B: On Line: Forest, Lime and Lapis, Herringbone Installation / C: Chicago Showroom Composite Rug

This last tid bit is the cherry on top of an already delicious sundae. In reference to the perfect geometry of all the modules Interface has to offer, consider this, an area rug that is a composite of countless patterns, textures and colors all perfectly curated and pieced together to create a mash up rug from heaven!! Due to the mathematical accuracy of the tile dimensions you can piece together a composite rug like the featured installation above without having to cut a single edge.

Needless to say the new skinny plank module that Interface has launched gives designers the opportunity to explore the canvas that is their floor. The skinny plank caters to the minimalist and the eclectic designer within all of us.

Voila! Who could have ever thought carpet tile could do all that?

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Designing Outside the Box

Gretchen Wagner

In today’s fast paced world everyone is looking for the most creative solutions for their design needs, but no one is willing to sacrifice simplicity and efficiency, and why should they?

Design is about unpredictability and reaching outside the metaphorical “box” to find solutions that are both accessible and digestible. Designing outside the box is what we do every day here at Interface, and our unique ability to provide modules that mathematically fit together enables us to mix not only colorways and patterns, but module sizes as well, to create beautiful and efficient composite floors.

For a while now we’ve been experimenting with mixing skinny planks and squares to blend together coordinating products and colors in unexpected ways. No surprises there, Interface strives to go beyond expectations to the point of inspiration.

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The composite rug above, with its intricate tile placement, is no exception. Many times the design process will stop once a beautiful outcome is achieved. Stopping here is still thinking inside the box. So, this is when we try something new to step out on a creative limb and evolve the concept even further.

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The result, an inspiring area rug that literally pushes the boundaries, combining multiple styles and colors in a mashup straight from design heaven. Not only do these modules fit together with perfect precision and composition, but when it’s time to trim all the tiles and make a perfect rectangle, we say, “Just leave it.” In doing so, we have ventured into an unprecedented territory that yields a new and fashionable way to cure all those boring boxed edges without the cut tiles.

Featured in this rug are some of Interface’s latest editions to our ever expanding product family. The compilation ranges from the luxurious skinny planks of the POSH Collection to the weathered feel of Reclaim, all the way to accent stripes in our classic Platform companions to FLOR and beyond. Whether it be the citrus greens, indigo blues or cool neutrals, this palette is sure to have something for everyone.

Straight lines and clean edges are so passé. Design outside of the box and you’ll find a flooring solution that is so beautiful, you’ll rethink modular. We did.

Inspirational Images
From Top Left: Ruffled FeathersShiboriOilPeacockOceanPeacock DetailSpider Web TurquoiseMossWater Reflection

 

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New Year. New Rules. New Trends.

Gretchen Wagner

New Year. New Rules. New Trends. That last one is what gets me through the first few weeks of January and one of my favorite trends of the year is an early trea­sure. The Color of the Year sets the tone for what to expect in the coming year and I’m not just talking about design. These perfectly selected colors ultimately rep­resent the essence of all we have to look forward to in the next twelve months.

Earlier this month Pantone released their Color of the Year, Radiant Orchid. After much deliberation of whether or not Radiant Orchid is Purple, Red-Violet or Mauve, I have finally settled in with the idea that it is none of these. It delicately teeters between warm and cool hues whilst hanging in the balance of the color spectrum.

Pantone2014_RadiantOrchid2_web2Shades of violet have long been desired in the textile industry and due to the expense of dyeing fibers this brilliant hue, violet was considered a color of royalty. A color as vibrant and energizing as Radiant Orchid wasn’t in the palette for Natural Dyes back then but all of that changed in 1856 when a serendipitous experi­ment yielded the first synthetic dye, which looked just like Radiant Orchid. At the time this was called “mauve” or “mauveine”, but regardless of the name, it is a rare thing to pinpoint a moment in history when one event revolutionized an industry forever.

Putting the history of the color behind us, how will you incorporate Radiant Orchid into your new year? If you’re feeling a little shy about the boldness of Radiant Orchid, don’t. It is the perfect accent color. So pick up a silk scarf, new pair of pumps or a bright lipstick to bring some flavor to those classic neutral silhouettes. But if you’re like me, and prefer the “go bold or go home” approach to your wardrobe, find an amazing statement piece in the form of an oversized wool trench or shift dress that is all out orchid, and you’ll find excitement in pairing it with tangerine accessories to make the colors even more dramatic.

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Pair a multitude of Radiant Orchid values with crisp and clean neutrals in your home for a more dynamic space that can nurture your creative side. I recommend accent pieces in the form of area rugs, accent pillows, tea towels and glassware. If you’re confident in your plant maintenance skills, live orchids are the perfect addition to otherwise empty tabletops. Whatever you do, make sure there is lots of texture ranging from shaggy to glossy. A good mix of interesting objects will stimu­late the creative mind.

Ultimately, the Color of the Year is representative of compassion and good judgment. So take some extra time for a little self care in 2014 and set up your space for all the magic that is ahead in the new year. Treat yourself.

Product Images: A. On Line: Mandarin 103803 B. Straight Edge: Purl 102407 C. HeatherMix: Charcoal 103510 D. Micro Line: Charcoal 103712 E. Viva Colores: Violeta 101152 F. FLOR – Fleece &Thanks: Lavender G. Alliteration: Onyx/Lilac Haze 9733 H. Walk the Plank: Cyprus 8762 I. FLOR – House Pet: Hummingbird J. UR501: Charcoal 103622

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The Mobile Office

Jennifer Busch

Technically, we no longer need space outside our home. We can shop at home, entertain ourselves at home, educate ourselves from home, and now we can even receive diagnosis and treatment at home for common ailments via emerging Internet telahealth companies like Teladoc. And despite Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer’s well-publicized order to the company’s remote workers to return to the office, the work-at-home culture is alive and well in North America. In reality, the workplace no longer performs a necessary function, so much as it has a purpose. Increasingly, the corporate office is designed to promote culture, support collaboration, build community, and encourage fortuitous interactions among staff.

Today, the term “mobile worker” is just as likely to refer to a person who works in the office as one who works outside of it, and “mobility” happens within the physical confines of the office environment every day. Wireless technology has untethered us to the point where it is no longer necessary to sit at one’s desk to be productive, and a heavy emphasis on collaboration in the workplace is pushing us toward working together in teams more than working independently. So, as interior design follows work culture, we see movement away from personal space and toward shared space within the most progressive office environments. Routinely, office workers are getting up from their desks—if they even have one—and going somewhere else within the office to work.

This is not necessarily news. What is more interesting is how this trend is being manifested in today’s office environments. A typical but really good example is the open office floor plan for Adobe San Jose (Calif.), designed by Valerio DeWalt Train, which shows a miscellany of shared spaces, of varying shapes and sizes and ranging from casual to formal, aptly labeled Entry Gate, Conference Room, Break Area, Breakout Space, Team Room, and Open Collaboration, to hint at their functions.

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A typical office floor at Adobe Headquarters in San Jose, Calif., designed by Valerio DeWalt Train, features a wide variety of meeting and shared spaces to accommodate groups of varying sizes and needs.

Primo Orpilla, principal of Studio O+A in San Francisco, speaks frequently on the variety of ways space is utilized within the office, emphasizing that the workplace must be designed to support a broad range of collaborative and personal behaviors. The firm’s design for AOL’s headquarters in Palo Alto, Calif., incorporates these principles—and vividly illustrates the opportunity for designers to think outside the box to do something creative with functional space.

 

Certainly it is no coincidence that two high tech companies are cited here, as the Silicon Valley culture tends to be more entrepreneurial and experimental when it comes to space design. But corporate executives in any industry like to learn from and emulate success. In the 1980s, staid and traditional aesthetic values guided office designs for corporations that wanted to declare their solidity and deep roots; in the 1990s, transitional values conveyed images of established yet progressive organizations. Today, young, agile, and fast-paced are the mantras for success, so the energized work cultures popularized by the high tech industry are also being adopted with increasing frequency by other segments—even conservative ones like the legal and financial services industries.

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Microsoft Studio in Redmond, Wash., designed by Studio O+A, is an example of highly flexible space that can quickly adapt to the needs of a fast-paced team. Photography by Jasper Sanidad.

Extreme mobility in the workplace has given rise to “hackable space” a phrase coined by Gensler to refer to interior environments that are “easily transformed, including technology, so that spaces can morph for instant changes in use. This isn’t just for occasional flexibility; it’s for constant change. Hackable space can be reshaped on the fly to meet a team’s fast-changing needs,” according to the firm’s 2013 Design Forecast.

In addition to creating and supporting a culture of collaboration, other benefits of the mobile workplace include physical and mental well-being. Human health demands physical activity, and with health insurance costs soaring, corporations are looking for opportunities to promote wellness and healthy lifestyles among their employees. Design that encourages workers to move around throughout the day is one such method. One of the key advantages of biophilic design, as described in The Economics of Biophilia, a whitepaper by New York-based environmental consulting firm Terrapin Bright Green, includes increased employee productivity. Studies have shown that a workplace designed with nature in mind can save the average company more than $900 per employee per year in labor-related losses. And though biophilic design typically conjures images of views to nature, the innate human need for changes of scenery and meaningful stimuli—things that nature readily provides—are part of the same equation. A mobile workplace can provide these.

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Acoustical concerns introduced by the popular use of hard surface flooring in open office environments like Jones Lang LaSalle’s headquarters in Philadelphia, designed by Re:Vision Architecture, are mitigated by the introduction of soft surfaces such as carpet tile in work areas and meeting rooms. Photography by Don Pearse Photography, Inc.

With all the emphasis on mobility and shared space, however, some experts are suggesting that the open, collaborative office environment has gone too far. Lack of acoustical control in open office environments—exacerbated by the trend toward benching and/or low panel heights between workstations—can stymie even the most focused worker trying to concentrate. And some people just need quiet and/or privacy in order to be most productive. This can be more of a problem in interiors that favor today’s hot materials, like glass, concrete, and sculptural solid surfacing. And let’s not forget the valuable older generation of workers, who either by desire or necessity have elected to remain in the workforce, and cannot be expected to adapt to plopping down on the increasingly ubiquitous bleacher-style seating to churn out tomorrow’s presentation.

The integration of sound absorbing materials like wood, carpet tile, textiles and other soft surfaces can and do help with acoustical control.

Moreover, “private” space seems to be making a comeback, though not necessarily in the form of the private office. For example, Biogen headquarters in Cambridge, Mass., designed by Nelson Architects, blends the best of both worlds with an open office furniture plan supported by an abundance of small, enclosed spaces for use by individuals needing quiet or small groups in need of an acoustically isolated meeting place.

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The Biogen offices in Cambridge, Mass., designed by Nelson Architects, feature an abundance of small, enclosed rooms on each work floor, providing open office workers with acoustically controlled spaces for quiet work or small group meetings. Photography by Halkin Mason Photography

There is little question that the concept of teaming is here to stay in the corporate enviornment, at least for the foreseeable future. Its influence is pervasive in other market sectors as well—particularly in education, where open plan schools at the university, high school, and even elementary school level are intended to prepare students for the collaborative approach to work that they are likely to encounter in the business world. Like all trends, however, each evolution raises new questions, and with them new design challenges. In the coming years, balance will be key.

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Danish Design: Efficiency & Simplicity

Gretchen Wagner

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Contrary to my not-so-jet-set lifestyle, I hopped on a plane and flew to Denmark for a five day getaway in Copenhagen. Little did I know I would be blown away by Danish design and style. In fact, I was so blown away by the simplicity and efficiency of life in Denmark that I immediately adopted it as my own. Despite the short nature of my trip, the Danish way of life is so innate and human that returning to Atlanta with sixteen lanes of backed up traffic (both ways!) caused a minor panic attack on my way home from the airport.

That being said, I arrived at the quintessential time in Denmark. Early September marks the transition from what Danes refer to as summer to autumn and the weather was divinely perfect. Sunshine and hardly any clouds were in the forecast for five magical days of exploring via bike, foot and train all of Copenhagen’s finest historical landmarks, shopping districts, art museums and cafes.

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Here in the US we look to Europe as our fashion role model, anticipating the latest colors and looks from their runway shows to hit our stores months later. The Danish aesthetic is classic with simple silhouettes and shapes that look perfect on their six foot tall frames. There were lots of tunics, flowing silhouettes, sheer paired with opaque textiles, platform shoes and of course, black. Pastel and neon accents were interjected into the otherwise monochromatic color palette. Whether it’s a brightly colored Fjall Raven backpack weaving through a bike lane or a pair of colored, Converse, low-top sneakers waiting for the train during the morning commute, flecks of color in the midst of a crowd are sure to draw your focus.

The essence of the Danish look is “effortless”. It’s a closely knotted, peroxide bun, opaque tights with a run up the side (likely a biking casualty) with a dash of “I just threw this together”. Everyone appears to have a strong sense of being purposeful and purposeless all at the same time. The nitpicky perfection we strive toward in our daily appearance is cast aside and a new paradigm is built where the elegantly disheveled look actually works.

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It seemed as though the Danes treat their homes the way they do their fashion, simple and functional. Black lacquers sharply contrasted against unfinished pine create a modern “to the point” look. Color blocked throws, heavily patterned curtains, accent rugs and glassware—all bring excitement and intrigue to an otherwise plain backdrop. Simple lines creating unique shapes that always seem to have a dual function leave no space to waste in tiny apartment city living.

Leave it to the Danish for finding the key to life and happiness in good design. It’s the relaxed fit of an oversized tunic and sneakers, a cozy shaggy rug between your toes or a simple steamed latte on a chilly fall morning. And we wonder why Denmark is the happiest country in the world.

Hej hej.

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