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Category Archives: NeoCon2012
This year at NeoCon Interface debuted its newest product line, Urban Retreat. The new collection, with styles ranging from refined textures to broad organic form, draws its inspiration from an emerging area of science called “biophilia”. Watch as Interface Director of Strategic Sustainability, Lindsay James explains the science of biophilia, and how it inspires our product design.
trip for two to Greenbuild 2012.
Urban Retreat™ explores man’s connection with natural elements and the intersection of nature and manmade materials. The Best of NeoCon Silver winner merges seemingly opposite worlds that inspire beautiful, coexisting and functional design in interior spaces. With NeoCon as a backdrop, Urban Retreat marks Interface’s launch of a new global product line, soon to be available on six continents around the world.
Urban Retreat’s nine styles are sorted into pattern studies ranging from refined textures to broad organic forms, all offered in a complementary color palette. Eight colorways include earthy neutrals and lush greens that reference lichen, grass, ivy and moss, informed by an emerging area of science called “biophilia.”
We can barely touch the surface of the science of Biophilia and the disciplines it encompasses, but to give you a glimpse, we present the last of four examples of how different peoples and countries are putting their biofeelings to work around the world. Each of these initiatives represents a way to reach thousands of other people with the message that biophilic elements have real value in the built environment. The more we each understand this, the more likely we are to protect the natural spaces we have left.
All over the world, beekeeping has become increasingly popular as a way for urban dwellers to reconnect with nature. The people of London have embraced it for a whole host of reasons: the honey, the stress relief, and the connection with nature. After all, beekeeping is ideal in a city of parks and gardens. London’s remarkable 25% green space is provided by private gardens of all sizes and types. Elegant garden squares, open public spaces, and the famous Royal Parks, such as Hyde Park, Kensington gardens and St. James’s Park. Together, these are home to a huge diversity of plant life.
THE TASTE OF HONEY
The rich variety of forage available here results in an amazingly complex tasting, and plentiful, supply of honey. It’s not just urban farmers and community gardeners who are getting involved, but people from all walks of life. They do it to help the environment and — perhaps most importantly — to escape the stresses of modern life. In short, they do it to put a little natural warmth back into their cool city lives.
From back yards to Buckingham Palace, beehives are almost anywhere in London. More surprisingly, you can now find beehives on many of London’s rooftops — where bees need particularly careful handling. St Paul’s Cathedral and Tate Modern have them on their roofs, looked after by expert beekeepers. Historic department store Fortnum & Mason has had particular success with its sixth-floor hives, producing its exclusive Fortnum’s Bees Honey.
2500 Hives registered in London / 50,000 Bees in each hive / 70 lbs. of Honey from each hive in every season
NO BEES. NO PLANTS. NO PEOPLE.
In A World Without Bees, urban beekeeping experts Alison Benjamin and Brian McCallum discuss how, if all the world’s bees disappeared, mankind would have only four years left to live. Without bees, there’s no pollination, and without pollination, there are no plants — and soon no animals, and then no humans. It’s a sobering thought that the western honeybee pollinates 70% of the food we eat. And it’s an extremely sound reason to become a beekeeper.
THE BEEKEEPER’S FRIEND
But if the ultimate aim is to save bees (and therefore ourselves), it’s important to do it properly. Keeping thousands of bees happy, healthy and productive is a complex craft. Anyone who looks into a beehive is enthralled by this mesmerizing miracle of organization. And there’s plenty of help for those who want to learn. For example, The London Beekeepers Association (LBKA) offers in-depth training and a mentoring program, which supports novice beekeepers, passing on a wealth of experience.
BEE FRIENDLY GARDENS
City dwellers that don’t practice beekeeping can still help protect our ecology and our food chain. “You don’t have to keep bees to save them,” says the LBKA, “There are many other useful things we can all do. We can plant ‘pollinator-friendly’ flowers, trees and plants. We can also stop using pesticides in our gardens. And we can support our local beekeepers by buying their honey.”
We can barely touch the surface of the science of Biophilia and the disciplines it encompasses, but to give you a glimpse, we present the third of four examples of how different peoples and countries are putting their biofeelings to work around the world. Each of these initiatives represents a way to reach thousands of other people with the message that biophilic elements have real value in the built environment. The more we each understand this, the more likely we are to protect the natural spaces we have left.
Singapore is a small tropical island country with a big reputation. It is well known as the premier financial hub in Asia and one of the world’s leading financial centers. It is called The Lion City (from its Malayan name) but also sometimes called The Garden City (for its 358 parks and 4 nature reserves). But just for the record, lions never lived here.
Singapore is a highly urbanized nation with a population of close to five million in about 272 square miles (704km). This land has been hard earned through on-going land-reclamation projects. Specifically because land comes at such a premium, most people live and work in high-rise structures. Since the city is so appealing financially, it attracts some of the world’s renowned architects—especially those with an ecological approach to building design.
The Solaris project is a prime example. Conceived and designed by architect Dr. Ken Yeang (whose firm is one of Fast Company’s 2011 Top 8 Most Innovative in the World), Solaris is a marvel of comprehensive ecothought.
Vertical green urbanism is the hallmark of Ken Yeang’s work. Dr. Yeang, who holds a PhD in ecological design and planning from the University of Cambridge, is the author of the 1997 book, The Skyscraper, Bioclimatically Considered.
A LIVING BUILDING
Even the shape of the Solaris building evokes a sense of life. From the exterior, one sees cascading landscaped terraces that bring nature to the doorstep of each office. Inside, two tower blocks are separated by a grand, naturally ventilated central atrium.
Roof gardens and corner sky terraces aren’t just cosmetic or recreational, important as those things may be. They act as thermal buffers. The building’s extensive eco-infrastructure is irrigated by rainwater that is harvested, stored, and then recycled throughout the building.
THAT TRULY FEELS ALIVE
Ms. Siyao He, Sustainable Solutions Manager for Interface, Asia, visited Solaris to give us a firsthand review of the project. She says. “Even though I’m in a building, I feel like I am in an open “breathable space” because of the glass façade that allows an expansive amount of natural light in and the greenery inside.” Ms. Siyao described the eco-infrastructure as a very important part of the building’s aesthetic, saying that the greenery “is designed in a spiral to provide a seemingly continuous flow of greenery throughout the building.” What a lovely thought: the pale white base color of the building blending with all the tones of green inside, gentled by the natural light of the glass atrium and still, the outside visible.