Putting the Human Back in the Human-Less Space

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The power of biophilia is something that our collective industry is only just beginning to embrace wholeheartedly. But the story behind this latest chapter of design-thinking is longer than we might think. Why does Interface want to put the human back in the human-less space?

The design of an environment, especially that of the workplace, has a significant impact on one’s experience of productivity, creativity and wellness. In a space where the human is often lost, Interface aims to not only bring back the human element but that of the natural one.

In 1994 in the company’s twenty-second year, founder Ray Anderson shook the industry by announcing that Interface was to be “the first company that showed the entire world what sustainability was in all its dimensions: people, process, product, place and profits… and in doing so, would become restorative through the power of influence.” Because of this, Interface’s focus was reimagined into redesigning processes, products, new technologies and systems that could increase the use of renewable materials and energy sources whilst eliminating any negative impacts on the environment. Today, this journey has lead Interface to seek achieving a zero negative impact on the planet by the year 2020.

Human Spaces

But in doing so, Interface has incorporated their mindful production processes into their human-based designs. By combining the humanistic and naturalistic into a single focus, Interface truly has found its sweet spot. Specializing in biophilic designs, such as the Human Nature Collection, empowers our A+D community to create peaceful and productive spaces that do not harm the natural environment. The collection, inspired by the restorative and relaxing elements of natural environments, aims to create an atmospheric interior that not only pleases the eye but leaves you feeling more engaged, more collaborative and ready to tackle the working day. Interface recognizes the connection between nature and humans, stating it is “literally and figuratively woven into every square and plank of carpet we produce.”

“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.” – Human Spaces.

Take Toronto Meridian Credit Union’ Corporate Office, who found inspiration in Interface’s Human Nature Collection, exclaiming “we fell in love with the sustainability story behind the line and used it to inspire the look of our whole office. We saw it as an opportunity to demonstrate our commitment to communities.” Their new design, is infused with comfort, productivity and creativeness in mind. The carpets were carefully chosen to positively influence the workers, with grass-like carpet tiles within the boardrooms and “Meridian Mile” tiles within the open-floor area to promote rest-breaks and exercise.

Human Spaces

Naysayers would be well-advised to reconsider their pessimism. A survey of over 7,600 workers in 16 countries held by Sir Cary Cooper, Professor of Organizational Psychology and Health at Lancaster University found that workplaces that incorporate natural elements such as greenery or natural lighting report 15% more creativeness, 15% higher levels of well-being and the workers are 6% more productive.

As a representative of the empathic turn in design-thinking, human-centric design processes speak to our very simple desires for empowerment: for the creative abilities we all have, for the desire for innovative problem-solving, for emotionally meaningful and intelligently functional solutions that have the potential to support environmental sustainability and staff wellbeing.

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