What is Human Nature? A Beautiful Foundation for Beautiful Thinking.

In a world that never sleeps—where information always flows, boundaries blur, transparency reigns and the sound of silence ceases to exist—our instincts prompt us back to nature, with its subtle yet clear cues on how best to live and work.

Look around at the natural world around you and what do you see? What do you feel?

Perhaps it’s a bright beam of the sun as it rises, or the ombre-indigo hue of the sky as this same sun sets, naturally inspiring us to speed up or slow down. Or maybe it’s a rolling, open meadow as an ideal setting for groups of people to gather.

Possibly a quiet respite, or an intimate space perfect for private reflection, or the boundless ocean with views as vast as the sky where our creative imagination can soar.

 

Whatever aspect of Nature this might be, it will resonate with some inner, unseen aspect of our own human nature, allowing our internal rhythms to become in harmony with the organic environment we see, hear, smell and touch.

When seeking inspiration we always ask “how would nature create an interior floor?” We don’t believe it would be exclusively made up of hard surfaces such as wood, bamboo or stone. We also don’t believe it would be uniform in any manner. Instead, it would be variable, composed of soft, hard or mixed materials.

It wouldn’t be nature growing wild and unruly to overtake interior space, and man wouldn’t be controlling natural elements. These two must co-exist—humans and nature together. And it’s important to note there is noise in nature but also a calming silence.

It’s our nature to dream.
To build. To play.
To aspire.
To adapt.
To look toward the sky.

As our limits continually stretch in a world that seemingly becomes smaller, people working round the clock and around the globe will invariably seek a primordial sense of alignment with nature to feel at home and at ease in their environs.

Shape-shifting times call for inspired spaces that enable us to be connected, yet distinct, like colors in a rainbow. Spaces that reflect our ability to adapt and bend and flex to meet today’s constant changes assure our ability to survive and thrive.

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And if such surroundings can at once communicate the subtlety and richness of nature, yet change and evolve as we do, they bring out the very best in our complex and glorious human nature.

Want to learn more about Human Nature? Visit us during NeoCon in Chicago June 9-11 | 9 am – 5 pm | Merchandise Mart Suite 10-136 & our permanent showroom across the street at 345 North Wells Street, 3rd Floor

#IFinHumanNature 

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The New Definition of Luxury

Amy Milshtein

What does today’s luxury traveler want? Interface explored this question during “Cocktails and Conversation” at HD Expo in Las Vegas. Three panelists, David Ashen, principal, dash design, Teri Urovsky, vice president, interior design, Marriott International, and Jon Kastl, principal, Champalimaud, along with moderator Stacy Shoemaker, editor in chief for Hospitality Design magazine, discuss the trends.

All three panelists agree that the definition of luxury has shifted. “Hotels were competing on design but now it’s about service,” says Ashen. The more personalized the better. He points to a recent trip to China where the concierge sent a pre-check in email asking for his room scent and beverage preferences. Kastl agrees that this elevated level of service will be the norm. “Restaurants and mini bars will be agile in catering to guests specific needs.”

While service aims to please the individual, the hotel’s physical design evolves to reflect their specific location. “It’s about experience instead of materials,” says Urovsky. This means that cookie cutter properties will be a thing of the past, a challenge that Urovsky relishes. “All of the Ritz Carltons looked alike for a long time,” she explains. “Now we strive for a distinguishable sense of place.”

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The Lexington Hotel, New York, designed by dash design. Photography by Frank Oudeman.

To tell stories about the local experience the designers suggest paring down materials and removing layers. “High end design can’t be overwrought,” says Kastl. “Heavy draperies, thick brocades and even fussily packaged bathroom amenities are a thing of the past.”

Don’t get him wrong; luxury travelers still expect luxury finishes. After a day spent touching the glass on their iPads, this group craves natural textures and simple palettes. “Anything to connect the guest to the outside world is good,” says Ashen, who suggests reorienting the bed to face the window instead of the wall. Urovsky points to indoor spaces that flow naturally to the outside, a possibility even if the property sits on the 150th floor. “We use floor-to-ceiling windows,” she says.

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Guestroom Designed by Wilson & Associates. Photography by Don Riddle.

The less-is-more trend is seen worldwide except for one glaring exception, China. All three panelists suggest that you bring the bling to places like Beijing and Shanghai. “They are in their ‘Great Consumerism’ stage,” says Kastl.  Hong Kong, however, remains more Western in its aesthetic.

No matter where they go, the luxury traveler still values health and wellness. Hotels cater to them with spa-like bathrooms, juice bars, local food choices, and fitness centers. “A lovely spa or fitness center adds value,” insists Ashen. But what if sits mostly empty? Ashen doesn’t care. “Everyone likes that it’s there. If you do use the gym, it feels private and exclusive.”

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Spa designed by Bensley Design Studio. Photography by Ken Kochey.

Technology continues to play an important role, but as with design, less is more. If you can hide it away, it’s even better. For instance, people still want a great TV but Kastl suggests hiding it behind paneling so it can “go away.”

“We don’t put the technology in people’s faces,” says Urovsky, who suggests plug in portals that are subtly built into furniture. Tablets that control room temperature, window coverings and the television should be simple and intuitive to use. And say goodbye to the desk. “Who works at the desk anymore?” asks Ashen, who opts for couches, lounges and other soft seating that mimics coffee houses.

But don’t stop there. The future of the high end get away may be just that—a complete departure from everyday life. For example Ashen points to one of his favorite properties, Natura Cabana in the Dominican Republic, ten eco-friendly, beachfront cabins with no radio, television or air conditioning. “It’s a total escape.” Because isn’t the freedom to unwind without distraction the true definition of luxury?

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Beautiful Thinking

Mikhail Davis

Our design reveals our assumptions. 

Since the Industrial Revolution, many of our designs have assumed we live in a world of unlimited natural resources and a belief that our fate is completely independent from that of the rest of life on Earth.
It is not.

Our assumptions have consequences. 

Designing as if we’re the only species that matters and that Nature has value only as an endless source of raw materials has left us facing global challenges.

While some of us see a temporary reprieve from these consequences, an ever-growing population feels impacts every day as they struggle to make a living from our overburdened land and water.

But dwelling on disturbing trends, and concern for our collective future, will stop humanity from tapping into connected creativity. Fear may help us survive but doesn’t always encourage creativity.

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How can we create conditions for breakthrough innovations to address our world’s greatest challenges?

Being a Part of Nature. Not Apart from Nature.

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It’s inherent as a species that we seek to solve problems but first we must reconnect to the source of our creativity; the living world around us in which we first learned to invent, our ultimate mentor for sustainable design.

Biophilic design reminds us we’re more healthy, productive and creative when surrounded by Nature.

What if the power of our evolutionary connection with Nature holds the key to unlocking a new wave of human ingenuity? 

Neuroscience and architectural research are converging, informing us that we need to create spaces that tap our connection to Nature to bring out the best in humanity.

What would we design if we worked in spaces that reminded us of our connection to the living world of Nature? How would our assumptions change? What would the world look like if we were more interconnected with the vitality of all living systems on planet Earth? 

At Interface, we choose to find sustainable solutions to questions like these collaboratively amongst ourselves, and with others. We call this approach Co-Innovation—and we see it as an open invitation to all to join us in thinking beautifully.

Join us in the next month as we explore our connections to nature, and the beautiful thinking it creates.  And visit us on our social channels leading up to, during and post NeoCon. #IFinHumanNature   facebook_web   instagram_web   twitter_web

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The Art of Storytelling

Jennifer Busch

Mike Suomi Headshot 1_web1Michael Suomi, Principal and VP of Design at Stonehill & Taylor in New York and founder of the think-tank organization Futuregreen Hospitality Forum, leads the way on design and sustainability

 

 

IF  How would you describe your design process in one word?

MS  Storytelling.

IF   Where do you turn for inspiration during your creative process?

MS  I am drawn to both the well of history and the vanguard of contemporary art for inspiration.

IF   How have you seen the hospitality industry change over the course of your career?

MS  The cross-pollination of ideas from everywhere (nightlife, fashion, nature, museums, nesting, handmade materials, crowd-sourcing, etc.) has evolved into exciting forms of hospitality we could have never imagined when I started as a designer 25 years ago. The “micro-room” hotel, Airbnb, and the ubiquitous “branded bed” are examples of radical shifts that have now become quite common in our industry. It is thrilling to imagine what the next 25 years will bring!

 

IF  You are a leading proponent for sustainability in hospitality design. What are the most important trends in sustainable design in this market segment at the moment?

MS  What excites my designers right at the moment is “upcycling”, which we are looking at for a major project in St. Louis. Later this month the think-tank organization that I founded, Futuregreen Hospitality Forum, is exploring the inherent sustainable opportunities that could come out of the current trend of “smaller, faster, cheaper” production. 

IF  Other than sustainability, is there anything in particular happening in the design world right now that inspires you?

MS  Many — The visual representation of data by people like Aaron Koblin and Edward Tufte; the DIY creativeness of the band OK Go; the intersection of interactive theater and dining; pop-up; glitch art; forgotten spaces; always authenticity.

 

IF   How does flooring help set the tone for a hospitality space? What does the flooring solution contribute to the overall design solution?

MS  The floor, like the ceiling, is usually the largest expanse of material in a space. It sets the stage for all the other layers of design to determine the overall tone. Based upon material, finish, pattern, color, and texture, flooring can make a space feel relaxed or formal, energized or calm, classic, intimate, flowing, historic, bold, crisp, hygienic, or any other vision the designer wishes to convey.

IF   If you were able to give one piece of advice to young designers interested in the hospitality market, what would it be?

MS  Listen.

IF    What is your favorite space that you have ever been in?

MF  Gustave Caillebotte’s “The Floor Planers” in the Musee D’Orsay.

#3 - The Floor Planers

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Go Play

Gretchen Wagner

At Interface we love to inspire you with endless modular design possibilities. Whether it be through the photography and tile configurations on our website or the brand spanking new Workbook 2.0, you always experience the clean, perfect as we intended. Today, I’m going to bring you inside our messy creative studio where we get down and dirty with our carpet tiles and show you how we take an idea for a floor from inspiration to installation. We’re pulling back the metaphorical curtain and showing you how Interface designs with our own products.

Over the past year, Interface has been exploring the concept of composite rugs where not only colors, but also textures, from different products are mixed together in a single installation. Having recently completed a few different rugs with this concept, I was feeling inspired to take it to a larger scale and a more refined color palette. I started finding inspirational imagery of transparent glass that formed new colors and depths of shading when pieces overlapped.

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Since our IT department had just moved into a new space and needed new carpet, I decided to see if it was possible to create the same effect by changing the color or texture of the carpet when shapes on the floor overlapped. A design plan slowly began to emerge featuring large, triangular shapes that overlapped and subtly changed color from one end of the office to the other. I wanted to have a wide range of textures and colors in the floor, so I sought a handful of products from our consumer brand, FLOR, which brought shaggy and chunky textures into the mix.

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The floor quickly developed into a beautiful, prismatic flow of colors, but I had to develop a plan that our installers could easily follow. The result is a highly contrasted grid where the product was identified by a numeric and color key for easy interpretation. As soon as the installers arrived with the product on site, they cross-referenced the tile boxes with the numbers on the installation plan and got started cutting tiles on the diagonal to create the triangles.

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I don’t want to glaze over the nitty gritty details, but a plan like this requires extra attention on the front end of the design. If you adequately provide installation plans that are both visual and informational, you’ll be good to go developing a truly unique floor for your space.

Interface provides you with the building blocks to design an exceptional floor whether you’re working with squares, planks, FLOR or cut tiles. All you need is to find your inspiration and go play.

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IMAGE CAPTIONS:
1. Raw Color: http://www.rawcolor.nl/project/?id=411&type=ownProduction
2. Prism Rug: http://www.pinterest.com/pin/66005950762641121/
3. Colored Triangles: http://www.pinterest.com/pin/36732553182569589/
4. Photograph of Pool Room rug at Catawba

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