Category Archives: Net Works

Interface Celebrates +Positive spaces with Great People and Great Design

Savannah Weeks
HiP Award

David and Cindi Oakey celebrate the HiP Award win for Human Connections.

Interface brought home three HiP awards at NeoCon 2017 and continues to garner recognition for its successful sustainability leadership and manufacturing practices

Human Connections, David Oakey’s latest global collection for Interface, highlights the beauty of the outdoors through its unique interpretation of nature’s role in communities. The collection won for Interior Design’s HiP Award for Best Workplace flooring, a highly competitive award category.

Our talented designer (and expert parallel parker) Gretchen Wagner won Interior Design’s esteemed HiP Rising Star Award, and San Francisco-based superstar Account Executive Brandon Maddox took HiP Seller.

While creating beautifully designed products remains a critical function for Interface, we also maintain a commitment to the earth and creating a climate fit for life. We recently garnered accolades for leadership in sustainability and recycling, being named CARE’s Recycler of the Year for 2016. Our Net-Works program, which in partnership with the Zoological Society of London, empowers people in coastal communities in the developing world to collect and sell discarded nylon fishing nets, won Business Partnership of the Year from the U.K.’s National Recycling Awards.

In fact, Interface was recently recognized as a global sustainability leader for the 20th consecutive year in GlobeScan and SustainAbility’s annual Sustainability Leaders Survey. Earning third place this year, Interface is the only company to appear on the list each year since the study began in 1997, and held a place in the top four since 1998.

2017_30_under_30_575x350

Additionally, Jarami Bond, Manager of Sustainability, was recognized as a young leader by sustainability industry publication Greenbiz. Named one of 30 leaders under 30, Jarami was applauded for his commitment to Interface’s sustainability mission as well as his community involvement in Atlanta and college mentorship.

We thank and congratulate our employees for their well-deserved recognition. It’s their passion, talent and dedication that help us continue to create beautiful, sustainable and positive spaces.

Posted in Category NeoCon, Net Works, Sustainability | Leave a comment

Bureo – Netting a Better Skateboard

Interface

The whimsy of a Bureo Minnow skateboard, with the raised scales that pattern its deck and its fishtail back-end, belies the serious mission it serves. At the core of each Minnow is 30 square feet of recycled fishing net that otherwise may have found its way into the tons of plastic that litter our oceans.

Bureo founders Kevin Ahearn, Ben Kneppers and David Stover didn’t set out to build a skateboard company that also happened to be sustainable. In a twist on reverse engineering, their primary impetus was to build a sustainable business. The decision to make skateboards its product came later.

“To make a sustainable business model,” said Stover, “we knew we had to make a product from collected materials, and we knew there was an abundance of potential materials in the ocean.”

Bureo skateboard

The Bureo Minnow skateboard features raised scales that pattern its deck and a fishtail back-end. (Photo courtesy of Bureo)

Specifically, there are 269,000 tons of plastics in our oceans, and five to 13 million metric tons more make their way there each year. Ten percent of that is estimated to be derelict fishing gear. Kneppers had prior experience in Chile and knew the country not only had an excess of discarded nets but lacked a recycling solution for them. After establishing the means to convert nets into suitable raw materials for skateboards in the U.S., the end-to-end manufacturing process—from recycling and repurposing through skateboard production—became based in Chile.

Results were immediate: in 2013, Bureo collected two to three tons of fishing net. In 2014, they reached seven tons—and the company expects 2015’s total to be a multiple of that number.

“That part of what we’re doing isn’t innovative —recycling has been around for decades,” said Ben. “But we can go further and create a net positive impact in our communities.”

ocean waste

Discarded fishing nets littering ocean fronts. (Photo courtesy of Bureo)

In Bureo’s case, this translated to a partner – ship with Chilean fisherman and fishing communities. Artisanal fishermen are paid an hourly wage for time spent harvesting nets and a price by weight for nets turned in for recycling. Larger commercial fishing operations direct the money Bureo pays for their nets to foundations that serve local fishing communities.

In speaking to future entrepreneurs and other companies, Kneppers says the Bureo message is simple: “We know we can’t solve these problems on our own. You are at your best when you work to improve something you feel passionate about—for us, it was our personal connection to the ocean. By working together, through these passions, we can truly address these global issues. Our goal is to catalyze this change.”

Posted in Category Changemakers, Net Works, Sustainability | Leave a comment

From Daylighting to Skateboards: An Exploration of Restorative Potential – Part 2

This is the continuation of a discussion on the potential of restorative business between David Stover, CEO and co-founder of Bureo skateboard company, and Bill Browning, expert in biophilic design and partner and co-founder of Terrapin Bright Green. Lindsay James, vice-president of restorative enterprise for Interface, moderated the discussion.

Blog_Daylighting_Part2_575x350_1

David Stover (left) and Bill Browning (right) discuss the potential of restorative business.

Lindsay James (Q): Do you think that there is potential for a restorative approach as more and more businesses embrace this idea and begin generating restorative technologies? Will those become leap-frog technologies that will allow our society to avert some of the pending crisis?

Bill Browning (A): I am going to go back to the social on that because I think it’s the mindset. When you have folks who are doing the work that David and his team are doing, it inspires other people to start thinking about different ways of doing things. When Ray first had his epiphany to go this route, a lot of folks doubted his proposal, but over time it became part of the culture. It inspired a lot of knockoffs—a lot of other companies looking at Interface and trying to do the same things. In some ways I think the technologies come along after that—after this inspiration and new way of thinking about the world.

David Stover (A): We founded one solution but we’re not in this alone. We look to other partners and other people doing great things around the world like Interface. We’re enticing people to do this on a broader basis. Bill’s point is that Interface is using its project to inspire others. Because we make skateboards, we get to touch a younger generation, which is really great.

Last year, we visited around 55 schools, telling kids our story. The younger generation is pretty inspiring. Last week I visited The Island School, which is a school set up in the Bahamas for people interested in ocean research. These are high school students from 15 to 18 years old. We watched a presentation about three 16 year-olds who were catching fish in the Bahamas, studying all the toxins in them and looking at their impacts on our environment. It made me realize that I became aware of environmental issues later in life. Through early awareness the next generation has a jumpstart on finding viable solutions.

Lindsay James (Q): What role should beauty play in designing our desired future?

Bill Browning (A): Everything. (laughs) If it’s not beautiful, we’re not going to take care of it. If it’s not beautifully designed, it’s not going to last. One example of biophilic design that we use quite a bit is the Great Workroom at Johnson Wax by Frank Lloyd Wright. A lot of times we’ll show a picture of that space and ask the audience how old they think the space is. It’s a contemporary picture that we took a couple of years ago. No one in the room guesses that it was designed between 1936 and 1939 and that it’s still used in the original configuration. We’ve talked to people who work in that space. Some of them are the grandchildren of the people who worked in the space originally. They love being there. It’s inspiring. It’s gorgeous. And it’s a productive space. Now think about that – an office design that is so good that it lasts that long.

David Stover (A): Beauty comes in from the beginning. You have to think about the end-product. We knew we wanted to set up a recycling project and make an eco-friendly product, but we had to make a great product that stood up next to competitors and in the market. If you don’t do that, then you really don’t accomplish what you want. If people aren’t buying it and people aren’t putting value into it, then you’re not able to create a sustainable program. It’s evident when there’s a lot of sustainability and eco-friendly practices going on, but most importantly there’s a beautiful product put in front of people. I think when you have that effect on people, you get them to smile and you get them to enjoy something. Afterwards, you explain that the product is created from collecting discarded fishing nets and cleaning up the water. You explain that the product is 100% recyclable. You’re able to capture them from the start with a beautiful product, then blow them away with the story behind it. I think it’s a powerful approach. I think it’s definitely changing the world of design and changing the way things are made.

Bill Browning (A): Look at this board! (holds it up) It’s beautiful with the reference to the fish tail and scales. How awesome is that?

Bureo Board

The “Minnow Cruiser Skateboard,” made from discarded fishing nets. Photo: @bureo Instagram

Lindsay James (Q): How important is happiness/well-being to the broader sustainability movement?

David Stover (A): There’s a saying on our team, “bringing joy in the marvels of risk.” This highlights the joy that you feel in nature, which was a lot of the influence behind our project. One of the things that hit home for us was that this place, the ocean, was special—being in the water, whether it was sailing, surfing, or swimming. This was where we were seeing the impact of pollution and we wanted to do something. But we also wanted to make a product that would bring joy and happiness to people while they were using it. I think a lot of people feel doom and gloom about what’s going on in the environment. But highlighting some of the more beautiful things that are out there and making sure to expose nature in design is really important.

Lindsay James (Q): If you had the power to change anything in our world, what would it be?

David Stover (A): Let’s go back to the issue of waste. Think about a cleaner tomorrow and what the world may look like without waste. If you can eliminate that word, you could live in a cleaner eco-system. I think that’s a pretty awesome world to think about.

Bill Browning (A): I want to conclude with the topic of restorative. One of the things that really pushed us when thinking about biophilic design is the fact that more than half of the world’s population now lives in cities. Some of those cities around the world are huge and sprawling but they don’t have much nature. It’s about how we reconnect people with nature in the built environment as a way for them to be healthy and more whole.

About the Panelists
David Stover is a global citizen. He is the CEO and co-founder of Bureo, a skateboard company. Bureo recycles used fishing nets into high quality, high design skateboards. David holds a Bachelor of Science and Mechanical Engineering and has a background in financial analysis. He grew up in a small island community and that is where he attributes his love for the ocean.

Bill Browning is an advocate for sustainable design solutions at all levels of business as well as government and civil society. His organization, Terrapin Bright Green, has brought biophilic design into the spotlight with their research and practice. They are also leaders in bringing biometric solutions to the forefront. Bill has been a long time advisor of Interface, serving on our eco-green team and advising our sustainability journey for nearly two decades.

Posted in Category Biophilia, Biophilic Design, NeoCon, Net Works, Sustainability | Leave a comment

From Daylighting to Skateboards: An Exploration of Restorative Potential – Part 1

Interface

Our relationship with the natural world should be a two-way endeavor. Understanding how our surroundings impact and restore us can help us to recognize our relationship with our environment as a reciprocal one. How do we expand our sustainability practices beyond eliminating bad behavior to actively creating positive impacts for us and the planet?

We had the pleasure of hosting David Stover, CEO and co-founder of Bureo skateboard company, and Bill Browning, expert in biophilic design and partner and co-founder of Terrapin Bright Green, at our Chicago showroom during NeoCon for a panel discussion on the potential of restorative business.

Our panelists discussed the ways in which biophilic design practices and restorative business models take inspiration from Mother Nature to create a happier, healthier environment for earth’s inhabitants, with insights from their own unique experiences and compelling case studies.

Lindsay James, vice-president of restorative enterprise for Interface, moderated the discussion.

Blog_Daylighting_575x350_1

Pictured left to right: Lindsay James, David Stover, Bill Browning

Lindsay James (Q): What does restorative mean to you and how have you established restorative practices through your business?

David Stover (A): Restorative for us is taking an eco friendly practice a step further. It’s not just worrying about the ecological footprint of your products. It’s about creating products that have a positive impact on the community as well as the environment. Through our Net Positiva initiative, we’re collecting and recycling fishing nets in Chile, providing local fisherman an environmentally sound way to dispose of nets and creating a source of recyclable materials for manufacturing Bureo skateboards.

Bill Browning (A): Our take on restorative is similar but we may be a step further. Through biomimicry we are looking at ecosystem services. For example, how does the ecosystem in your workplace deal with water? How does it deal with energy? What is its net biological productivity? Basically, developing a set of metrics around the ecology of your workplace, then asking yourself, “Could I design an operative building in a way that performs as well as the original ecosystem that was here?” It is really place-based.

In the conversation about resilience, you get into this question of how to harden technology. People are holding conversations about the next flood but the next natural disaster that could kill more people than another flood will probably be a heat wave. The way you solve a heat wave, besides building stuff, is setting up resilient social systems: resilience for the people themselves, restorative of community and restorative of social relationships.

Lindsay James (Q): I’m glad you brought in the resilience aspect of this as well. In the study of biomimicry, we learn that nature is not sustainable as much as it is restorative and resilient, and it is those two emergent factors that have allowed life to survive. So what would the world look like if every business embraced its restorative potential?

David Stover (A): I think our program and our system in Chile is honestly just a small part. We work in six communities right now. One thing that we have learned is this idea of utilizing a waste material to put into a product. It’s important to think about how you’re making a product from that material and what your end of life solution will be for the product. For us it was making a product that is recyclable – the skateboard decks. When you talk about the world and embracing restorative practices, I think one thing that we see is this idea of waste not necessarily going away immediately, but looking at waste as a different word. The thought of living an almost waste free lifestyle with compost and recycling solutions and the idea of a closed-looped system is something that we are really excited about. For us the biggest concern is the waste and toxins leaking into the water ways. This was our motivation for starting the project. We should be thinking about how a waste free life might impact the health of our society.

Blog_Daylighting_575x350_2

“For us it was making a product that is recyclable – the skateboard decks,” said Bureo CEO David Stover.

Bill Browning (A): I love what you guys are doing with the nets. A fishing net, even after it is discarded, is still catching things; it is still having negative ecological impact. Besides the fact that it is trash and it is material out of place, nets don’t stop catching and killing things. Removing these out of the ecosystem and recycling that fiber is really beneficial for those places.

Lindsay James (Q): Bill, you and I were having a conversation recently on this topic. If every business embraced restorative potential, not just at this macro scale, but also at the individual impact level when talking about biophilic design, do you think that there is some potential to cultivate a shift in awareness for building occupants?

Bill Browning (A): “Connection to Nature” is one of our 14 Patterns of Biophilic Design. It’s sometimes the hardest to explain because it’s not like “Prospect.” This is about how we, in our design, do things that make people aware of the processes and things going on around them.

For example our sister firm, CookFox Architects in New York, installed a 4,000 square foot green roof right outside the windows of the studio that can be seen from almost any desk in the work space. It was originally planted with Sedums and now has some native grass. When we put it in, it was beautiful, But it was beautiful in a way that people thought of as decorative. Then we started seeing insects and dragonflies hunting the insects, and birds chasing the insects. A pair of Kestrels (sparrow hawks) took up the roof as part of their hunting territory. One day a Kestrel killed a bird right in front of the windows and ate it. Some people were horrified; some were spellbound. But it got everybody’s attention and it shifted the whole culture of our relationship to that roof. People suddenly realized that this was not just decorative, it was a functioning ecosystem right outside. That led to people becoming much more engaged, so we ended up putting in a big vegetable garden and kept bees out there as well. It went from being a place of simple restorative effect to a place of deep engagement.

CookFox_GreenRoof

Photo: ©COOKFOX Architects

The team I work with at Google has said publicly that this “Connection to Nature” pattern might be the most important one of all.

Lindsay James: It reminds me of the Rachel Carson quote, “The more clearly we focus our attention on the wonders and realities of the universe about us, the less taste we shall have for destruction.”

More Q&A to follow in Part 2.

About the Panelists
David Stover is a global citizen. He is the CEO and co-founder of Bureo, a skateboard company. Bureo recycles used fishing net into high-quality, high-design skateboards. David holds a Bachelor of Science and Mechanical Engineering and has a background in financial analysis. He grew up in a small island community and that is where he attributes his love for the ocean.

Bill Browning is an advocate for sustainable design solutions at all levels of business as well as government and civil society. His organization, Terrapin Bright Green, has brought biophilic design into the spotlight with their research and practice. They are also leaders in bringing biometric solutions to the forefront.  Bill has been a long time advisor of Interface, serving on our eco-green team and advising our sustainability journey for nearly two decades.

Posted in Category Biophilia, Biophilic Design, NeoCon, Net Works, Sustainability | Leave a comment

The Ripple Effect

Interface

Creating A Restorative Loop with the Net-Works™ Program

At Interface, recycling isn’t exactly news. For 18 years, we have deepened our pledge to close the loop and use only recycled or bio-based materials in our products. This includes challenging suppliers to find ways of recycling fibers from our own products and those of our competitors to bring the polymers back into new products – making beauty from waste. The use of 100% recycled content type 6 nylon yarn in many of our products is bringing us another step closer towards our Mission Zero® goal: to eliminate any negative impact Interface may have on the environment by 2020.

To achieve Mission Zero, we strive to only work with partners who have that same level of commitment to building a restorative loop. Our trusted yarn supplier and partner, Aquafil, has pioneered ways to supply Interface with recycled nylon fibers since 2011 – re-purposing waste nylon from many sources, including yarn reclaimed through our own ReEntry® program and end of life fishing nets recovered from the fishing industry supply chain.

1107fWith at least 660 million people around the globe relying on the ocean for their livelihoods, and many living on the poverty line, Miriam Turner, Interface’s Assistant VP, Co-Innovation, saw an opportunity. Inspired by Aquafil’s recycling strides, she asked “Could we take this down to the community level and benefit some of the poorest people in the world? What if we could build a truly inclusive business model – buying discarded nets from local fishermen – giving them extra income – and cleaning up the beaches and oceans at the same time?”

Scoping a project of this magnitude requires a lot of hands, hearts and minds – so in 2011 the Co-innovation Team began assembling an army of collaborators, including the Zoological Society of London™ and marine biologist, Dr. Nick Hill. After intensive research and planning, they decided to focus the Net-Works pilot program within the 7,000 Philippine islands, on the Danajon Bank – in one of only six double reefs in the world.

And thus, Net-Works was born. The effects of clearing the beaches of nets isn’t just aesthetic. “In an eco-system as delicate as the Danajon Bank,” Hill states, “discarded nets are incredibly destructive. The nets take centuries to degrade, and with a nylon density greater than that of water, the nets lie on the ocean floor where they do untold damage to marine life.”

1004_fAlong with helping the villagers clean, sort and sell back the waste nets, Interface and the Net-Works partners have established community banking systems for the residents – supporting and strengthening the local, developing economy, and providing new financial opportunities for residents. Community banking empowers village members to establish forms of micro-insurance, savings and loans for the benefit of both individuals and the community.

Inclusive business is not philanthropy. It means profitable core business activities that take unconventional forms of partnership, expanding opportunities for poor and disadvantaged communities. It means building new models of materials sourcing to ensure the health and safety of our environment. It means beautifully designed products, crafted with care and purpose. And it means another step closer to achieving Mission Zero.

Posted in Category NeoCon 2013, Net Works | 1 Comment