Along with all the compliance requirements of interior designs in modern buildings, designers are now required to include psychological and emotional accommodations in work spaces.
Stitching these diverse regulatory and human factors together falls to people such as Sydney-based interior designer, Simone Oliver from Geyer. And while colour, tone, lighting and texture play their role, flooring has emerged as crucial in connecting people with their environments.
“Our work has moved beyond designing a nice space and expecting people to work in it,” says the interior designer.
Adding to the complexity of the modern work space is the movement towards activity-based working (ABW) in which employees share an open space and no one ‘owns’ a desk.
“Australia is a global leader in ABW work spaces,” says Oliver. “We’re always looking for ways to open up the spaces to allow more natural light and a better atmosphere, but you also need to ensure that foot traffic is kept away from people who’re working and that there are natural places where meetings can take place. Even in an open environment there are delineations.
“Flooring has become important in this because it helps us delineate areas in terms of what they do and what is going to happen there,” she says. “We use different shading and texture in the flooring to tell people where the public area stops and the employee area starts.”
Geyer favours carpet tiles for doing this because of the flexibility and the modularity of design. She says Interface carpet tiles have become the firm’s preferred brand because of the modern designs, bespoke capability and the sustainable credentials.
The Interface focus on sustainability includes a range of ‘Biomimicry’ carpet tiles that mimic patterns found in nature. Not only reflecting nature in pattern and colour, the designs link together randomly (rather than uniformly) across a series of tiles, much in the same way leaves fall randomly to form a pattern on a forest floor. This biophilic design feature means the tiles can be laid in any order, thus reducing installation waste significantly. New tiles can also seamlessly replace worn ones many years later.
“The Raw carpet collection is one of my favourite Interface biophilic ranges,” says Oliver. “I like the way it looks and the fact that Interface can create for us subtle shading and tonal customisation on the existing themes. The biophilic ranges enable us to bring the benefits of the natural world to the work place.
“In work areas where there biophilia design principles have been used, you find lower sick leave numbers and greater staff retention. There are studies that show greater output and productivity and less stress in these work spaces.”
A lot of work goes into ensuring that the carpets appeal on an intellectual level as much as an aesthetic one.
Managing director of Interface Australia, Clinton Squires, says the green credentials that underpin their modular carpets are also critical to meeting modern building standards.
“All our products need to meet GreenStar certification standards but we look beyond, into areas like waste management,” says Squires. “Nature wastes nothing, designing in a cyclical system where waste from one element becomes nutrients for another. Our biophilic ranges, like Raw and Urban Retreat install with less waste, use fewer non-renewable resources and are warranted to stay out of landfill at the end of their life in a building. In fact, just as in nature, our used carpets become feedstock for our recycling program ReEntry and are turned into new carpet tiles, again and again.”