Feeling Good, Working Well

Jean Nayar

In the relocation of its Toronto corporate office, Meridian Credit Union’s transition team worked closely with designers Bullock + Wood and Interface to craft new offices that emphasize and support the well-being of its employees.

Meridian Financial

As Ontario’s largest credit union, Meridian knows well what it takes to help its members grow. And in the process of supporting more than a quarter of a million people enriching their lives and their businesses from Windsor to Ottawa, the community-centric credit union has also grown and now employs more than 1,500 people in several branches and various commercial and corporate offices throughout the region. So when the employees who worked at its Toronto-based corporate office began to outgrow their space in a building in the downtown core several years ago, Meridian applied the same business ethos it relies on to support its Members as the driving force behind the design of a new office environment that would reinforce the well-being of its employees and help them to function effectively.

Meridian Financial

The Meridian team chose a mix of nature-inspired Interface carpet tile as the launching point for the entire design of the office space.

“As we undertook a location search five years ago, we made the decision that moving out of the core was more aligned with who we were as a community credit union,” says Sandy Brown, vice president of real estate and property management for Meridian. As a result, the company relocated this corporate office to suburban Toronto West to be closer to the community it serves as well as to its sister corporate office in St. Catharines. “Our functional goals included creating an environment that linked to our evolving business, supporting our employees’ well-being from a social and physical perspective, and reflecting our leadership and cultural values,” says Claudine Chess, senior human resources business partner for Meridian. Among the plus points of the new light-filled 33,000-square-foot space the company chose for the 150 Toronto corporate office employees were expansive views of the nearby surroundings, including greenery, Lake Ontario, and the Toronto skyline in the distance. Situated on the 6th and 7th floors of a 1980s LEED Gold certified building, the offices were also in a place where Meridian “could stake claim,” says Chess, noting that “Meridian was founded on the idea of neighborhood banking,” and the new setting would allow easy access to the people who lived in condos or worked in small businesses or for commercial developers nearby.

Meridian Financial

Recognizing that the extended commute to the new office setting would likely meet with resistance among many of the employees, the transition team involved in spearheading the design of the new offices was keen on creating spaces that would inspire a sense of comfort and well-being for the employees—especially those who would have to travel an hour or more to get to work. So designing an appealing environment with varied spaces and tools to ease various work-related tasks was critical. “We wanted them to have choices with equipment like headsets or sit-stand workstations, because in today’s work environment sitting is thought of as the new smoking and we wanted employee well-being to be front and center,” says Chess. Since many of the company’s mobile workers often work from home as well as the office, they also wanted to include characteristics that would echo a home environment. “From a wellness perspective we relied on an analogy to inform the design, which offered a choice of spaces that you’d intuitively use for different kinds of tasks in a home,” says Chess. “A dining table for concentrated work, for example, or a comfortable chair for reflective reading, or room to pace around during a conference call.”

Meridian Financial

Employees are encouraged to walk the “Meridian Mile,” outlined throughout the office by Interface Off Line carpet tile.

Another essential ingredient for the team, who worked with Toronto-based interior designers Bullock + Associates on the design of the new offices, was to support a sense of well-being by embracing the uplifting influence of nature beyond the light, greenery, and inspiring views. Interestingly, the team had been introduced to Interface products and the underlying point of view that drives its designs, and they chose to rely on a mix of its nature-inspired carpets as the launching point for the entire design of the office space. “Early on in the design phase we were presented with Interface’s Human Nature™ collection of products and we fell in love with the sustainability story behind the line and used it to inspire the look of our whole office,” says Brown. “We also saw it as an opportunity to demonstrate our commitment to communities,” adds Sarah Rea, Meridian’s senior manager of corporate social responsibility, noting that the building’s LEED Gold environmental standard and the materials choices in the office align to the goals the company aims to achieve.

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Talking “Negative to Positive” at Greenbuild 2016


Join us at Greenbuild in Los Angeles as we talk about our Negative to Positive journey and our new mission, Climate Take Back. 
October 5-7 | Booth 1443 | Los Angeles Convention Center

We’re proud to be a Gold Sponsor. If you aren’t attending the show, you can follow us virtually using #ClimateTakeBack

GreenbuildDon’t miss these Interface experts and friends during Greenbuild:

Wednesday, October 5
8:00 am – 10:00 am | A01 – Nature Inspired Material Innovation: Factory as Forest (Outdoor)
Erin Meezan, Chief Sustainability Officer, Interface Inc.
James Connelly, Director of Living Product Challenge at International Living Future           Institute
Nicole Miller, Managing Director at Biomimicry 3.8

11:00 am – 12:30 pm | Executive Luncheon
Interface’s president and chief operating officer Jay Gould will be the featured speaker at this invitation only event.

2:00 pm – 3:00 pm | B01 – Biophilic Design: Achieving Broad Adoption (Outdoor)
Bill Browning, Partner at Terrapin Bright Green
Amanda Sturgeon, CEO at International Living Future Institute
Vivian Loftness, University Professor & Paul Mellon Chair in Architecture at Carnegie Mellon University
Richard Piacentini, Executive Director at Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens

Thursday, October 6
9am – 10am | D13 – The Shared City: The Sharing Economy in the Evolution of the City
Chris Garvin, Partner at Terrapin Bright Green
Paolo Parigi, Associate Director at Stamford University
Erin Barnes, CEO / Co-Founder at ioby

12:30 pm – 1:30 pm | EL52 – BASF Presents: Material Ingredients
Annie Bevan, VP, Certification Services at Green Circle Certified, LLC
David Green, Manager Applied Sustainability at BASF Corporation
Brent Trenga, Director of Education & Sustainability at Kingspan

3:30 pm – 5:30 pm | MT101 – Materials Think Tank at Greenbuild
Mikhail Davis, Director of Restorative Enterprise at Interface, Inc.
Scot Horst, Chief Product Officer at U.S. Green Building Council
Mahesh Ramanujam, Chief Operating Officer at U.S. Green Building Council
Douglas Brown, Sustainability at BASF
Elizabeth Cassin, Senior Associate & Associate Unit Manager at Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates, Inc.

Friday, October 7
8:00 am – 9:00 am  | G12 – The Theory of Biophilia and the Practice of Biophilic Design
Stephen Kellert, Tweedy Ordway Professor Emeritus at Yale University, School of Forestry and Environmental Studies
Elizabeth Calabrese, Principal Architect at Calabrese Architects, Inc.

11:00 am – 12:30 pm | Closing Plenary
Greenbuild’s closing plenary is always forward-thinking, asking “what’s next?” Our Erin Meezan will open the plenary followed by incoming USGBC CEO Mahesh Ramanujam and BIG founder Bjarke Ingels.

1:30 pm – 4:30 pm | Material Health Summit: Beyond the Tipping Point
958 S. Broadway Los Angeles, CA 90015
Lindsay James, Interface Vice President of Restorative Enterprise & Certified Biomimicry Professional
James Connelly, ILFI Living Product Challenge Director
Andrea Cooper, ILFI Declare Manager


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TransferWise Transforms Office Design


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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Come On, Get Happy – Resurgence of the ‘70s in Hospitality Design

Sarah Pelham

Flares, platforms, tassels and shearling collar coats are filling the catwalk. It’s official – the 1970s are back! Every year the hospitality design market sees the re-emergence of a particular period. In recent years, mid-century modern inspired design has been the ruling influence, but this year the vibe is turning to the 1970s.

Does this give you a feeling of nostalgia or more of panic? Personally, I feel a bit nostalgic. How could you not like the era of the iconic “Brady Bunch” and “Partridge Family”? It was a time when pattern, texture and color were of paramount importance. Individuality paired with self-expression were trademarks of this generation. Design elements were tactile, bold and greatly influenced by the back-to-nature movement, which was globally fueled by the world’s changing political and social climate.

hospitality wood

Hospitality design elements were tactile, bold and greatly influenced by the back-to-nature movement.

In alignment with the 70s, HD Expo 2016 was a potpourri of different styles, reminiscent of a time of exploration and experimentation. I found a mixture of colors, patterns, and textures, making it hard to zero in on one overall hospitality design trend. (I’m glad to say there were no signs of macramé plant holders!) I found hospitality products with a crafted feel, exemplifying the basics of skilled craftsmanship. Products were grounded or ordinary, demonstrating that slowly acquired skills are admired. In our high-tech digital lives, people are yearning to see craftsmanship, whether it is in hand woven textiles, hand forged metals or carved wood pieces. A resurgent interest in reclaimed woods, laser cut detailing, chiseled and hammered finishes were abundant. In the world today, there’s an appreciation of everyday materials that are unpretentious but explicit. People are redefining spaces by including products that “speak” to them and removing the rest of the clutter. Artisan goods will continue to make waves, so opt for unique, individually crafted statement pieces.

hospitality elements

Sarah Pelham found hospitality products with a crafted feel, exemplifying the basics of skilled craftsmanship.

In regard to textiles, I saw a range of styles including a variety of abstract felt cut-out shapes forming a pattern, handmade woven chunky wools and tactile fabrics with raised textured yarns, all supporting the desire for design to have a personal touch. Hand woven items using natural dyes and fibers were prevalent, as well as textiles with a regional influence in the form of sheepskins and pelts. Global cultural influences for hospitality design, such as ethnic tribal embroidery, embellished baroque and lace flocked wallcoverings, were additional examples of the modern day crafted products on the HD catwalk. Wall finishes brought tons of dimension, texture and vibrant color to an otherwise flat surface in the form of large graphic patterns like damask, modern abstract organics and geometrics.

hospitality fabrics

HD Expo 2016 showcased handmade woven chunky wools, abstract felt cut-out shapes forming a pattern and tactile fabrics with raised textured yarns.

Parallel to the 70s, the movement towards combining a wide mix of materials is on the rise. Different pieces in different finishes, moving further away from the traditional idea of “matching” items to furnish a space. My biggest takeaway? It’s time to start experimenting with unexpected elements that appear handmade, adding personality to a space and getting away from the look of mass production.

hospitality design

Experiment with unexpected elements that appear handmade, adding personality to a hospitality space.

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Maximizing Space, Boosting Culture

Elizabeth Davis

Rapid Advance was growing in more ways than one. The company’s original headquarters was the quintessence of corporate design—traditional, muted, and safe—but that space didn’t represent the changing company culture or allow for team growth. They needed a space that reflected the vibrancy of their culture and allowed for current and future expansion.


Rapid Advance needed a corporate design to reflect the vibrancy of their culture. Interface products featured: On Line™ and Ground Waves™.

This team of business lenders moved to a new space in a new building, marking a fresh start for the company. Rapid Advance became the first tenant of the first LEED Platinum building in Bethesda, Maryland.

Spearheaded by Lead Designer, Kristin Kostrzewski, the corporate design of the new 22,433 square foot space was the perfect tabula rasa—a space that could be designed from scratch to accommodate the team of 190 members with room for a mix of professional, executive, recreation, and collaborative areas.

meeting room

One of many areas to accommodate team collaboration.

Our efforts focused on representing not only the company’s professionalism and work ethic, but also their culture and personality. We broke down the walls of traditional corporate design by creating a workspace that is open and uplifting. We installed work surfaces with low cube walls, which opened the space and allowed for more natural light. We designed areas specifically for recreation and breaks to establish an equal balance in the new office space. The layout incorporated a “Whiskey Room” for entertaining clients and celebrating successful deals complete with flooring taken from actual whiskey barrels, a Ping-Pong table, and Foosball.

whiskey room

The “Whiskey Room”, for entertaining clients and celebrating successful deals.

Carpet served as a powerful design element in our work. Our partnership with Interface designers ensured that the flooring would stand the test of time and complement the space’s personality. By using saturated colors in open areas and subtle colors in private spaces and offices, we were able to incorporate subtle bursts of color without overwhelming the design.

rapid advance 4_575x350

Subtle colors in private spaces and offices.

Overall, the entire design offers a space where Rapid Advance’s culture can flourish. “The original space was dull. It was such a stark contrast to the softball-playing, whiskey-drinking, karaoke-singing, high energy of the Rapid Advance team. It was exciting to create an environment that reflects their thriving culture and attracts great talent,” said Melissa Price, CEO of dPOP.

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