Workplace Design Shift: Nature breathes life into spaces, promoting health and wellness - Aug/Sept 2020

By Stephen and Kathleen Cloud

Nature is taking center stage in the commercial design arena with well-being and sustainability continuing to gain traction as important themes within spaces. It’s a trend that has been emerging within the A&D community and among commercial manufacturers in recent years, but amid the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak, it’s gathered momentum as more people seek to put health at the forefront of everyday life, including at work.

During a recent Starnet Commercial Flooring webinar hosted by Tarkett, environmental responsibility and building workplace connections were key themes.

As part of a recent study commissioned by Tarkett, London-based futures research agency FranklinTill Studio explored workplace trends and employee experiences across more than a dozen countries. The analysis identified three kinds of spaces-convivial, fluid and nourishing-according to Caroline Till, co-founder of FranklinTill, who spoke during the webinar.

The convivial workspace nurtures teams and communities. The fluid workspace creates a sense of comfort with a softer, female-centered space that addresses multiple age groups, work and communication styles. And the nourishing workspace, the most popular theme, connects to nature and the outdoors. By bringing the outside in and incorporating green into a space, the occupant’s psyche is improved, promoting holistic health and happiness.

Elated by the recurring nature theme that emerged, the Tarkett team created a blog called “The Great Indoors” is aimed showcasing the company’s belief that research and innovation in materials and design are integral to a more sustainable future. Results are available by country.

The concepts of creating nourishing and meaningful workspaces were also themes of a separate Starnet webinar with Milliken’s commercial market team, which discussed a couple of its more recent carpet collections that aim to bring natural light and energy into a space.

Edge Lit, available in 12 radiant colors, was influenced by the transformation of sunlight in a prism into a splendid rush of color and delves into the astounding nature of light, providing an energetic force in a room.

Color Thesis seeks to create fluid spaces built by color and features a watercolor-like design in two patterns within one corresponding color story. Using its PrintWorks dye technology, floorscapes surpass expectations as they begin to mirror an original work of art.

Newman Architects in New Haven, Connecticut is often inspired by nature. As part of a design competition submission for Mill River Park in the city of Stamford, Connecticut, the firm proposed a grove of photovoltaic tree-like sculptures, the canopy of which drew inspiration from the forest. Their grouping creates a type of urban “porch” and a refuge from the hustle and bustle of modern life.

That connection to the outdoors-and its emphasis on sensory sensibility to nurture the mind, body and spirit-was also used in Newman’s design of Wayback Hall at The State University of New York in Purchase. Huge windows, bright colors and minimalistic furniture helped create an inviting environment. Using the outside greenery as a key part of the design led to the overall success of the project.

Nature and lighting were also key components in the renovation of our new Higgins Flooring office in Berlin, Connecticut this past spring. Designed by Susan Bible, owner of Five Hills Design in Hebron, Connecticut, the goal was to personalize the space while imaging work-life as its own ecosystem.

Two types of spaces described in the FranklinTill/Tarkett study are part of the design and are defined using the modular DIRRT wall system with glass windows. Convivial spaces define flow and work areas for teams using flooring patterns and textures. The fluid workspaces offer soft, warm colors, allowing some modularity and personalization for our group. There are smaller, inviting spaces-a design trend going forward-to connect more meaningfully with one another.

The office also features a “grow wall” with live plants, which was installed to physically bring the outside in. Not only does this green wall feed the soul, but it provides cleansing oxygen for the air and a sense of calm to the environment. Healthy materials lead to happy people, which is the ultimate future in design.

For flooring, Milliken’s Edge Lit and Color Thesis were installed to provide color, art and light in the office area for all to enjoy.

By using nature and light in a profound way in design, we can nourish the indoor space and foster social wellness, especially in these challenging times.

Copyright 2020 Floor Focus 

Related Topics:RD Weis, Tarkett, Starnet