In the past, an office was simply about its functionality. Today, it’s more about expressing core values by using each surface to communicate a cohesive statement about the organization or company.
As a consequence, interior design has evolved; to mould comfortable and functional interior spaces that reflect that company’s brand both internally to staff and externally to other stakeholders.
The design process is all about creating functional buildings that look good on the outside and work well on the inside, enhancing learning or productivity, or inspiring thought and creativity.
The blend of functional purpose and aesthetics is important: it’s estimated that a person with a full-time job will spend an average of 1,800 hours every year in his office.
Using color and combinations of color are fundamental ways to create a multifunctional space, because color gives texture, shadow, and perspective. Color provides the visual contexts in which buildings are set, and where interior spaces can function to best effect – whether in the boardroom or bathroom.
Use and User Design
Increasingly, designers are – either formally or informally – using research methodologies to find out how people really use space and what they want from that space. This is particularly true in high-stress locations such as schools, offices, hospitals, and residential care homes.
Increasingly, it’s now about user design.
In other words, the office is becoming an environment that is stimulating and motivating – and which also recognizes how the very nature of work is expanding to include teleworking or fully remote workers.
Building interior spaces around the needs of the individual — rather than the general function of “work” — is a process that recognizes that all of us operate best in environments that inspire us to learn better, be more productive, and feel happier.
Cradle to Cradle ®
Interior design also considers how to protect our environment, and the carpet sector is rising to the challenge. Carpeting is typically replaced every seven years, despite usually having a guaranteed life of 10-25 years.
That means that a lot of perfectly good carpeting is thrown away every year, just because it’s faded or dated.
That adds up to millions of square feet of carpet every year, and most of it is left to rot in landfill sites — where it takes 50 years for natural fibers such as wool to break down. It also takes 250,000 years for man-made fibers such as nylon to degrade.
Fortunately, much of that material could be used again. And the carpet industry is taking it seriously. Some manufacturers are:
- Reducing waste at source by using “natural” materials such as wool or sustainable plant fibers – most commonly, sisal, cotton, seagrass, jute, or coconut coir
- Using open-cell polyurethane foam – a post-industrial waste from the automotive industry, an innovative way of using someone else’s trash – for carpet backing
- Recycling polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastic beverage bottles to make polyester carpet fibers. (In fact, plastic bottles from Yellowstone National Park are being sold to make carpet backing.)
- Using renewable soyabean and celceram, a refined material recovered from coal-fired power stations, for carpet backing
For us at Desso, we’re adopting a new theory of Cradle to Cradle ® eco-effectiveness by making products that work within a circular rather than a linear economy.
Cradle to Cradle ® sounds deceptively simple, but it actually turns conventional sustainability on its head, because convention is all about a language of negatives. The green convention talks about “minimizing” human impacts, “zero footprints,” “banning” harmful substances, or “reducing” energy use.
Instead, Cradle to Cradle® models itself on the living environment, where materials are constantly being transformed without losing their capacity as nutrients. However, rotten apples are not recycled back into new apples: instead, they are transformed by chemical and other processes into nutrients for other organisms. In nature, nothing is wasted; everything is reused.
As in nature, Cradle to Cradle ® eliminates the concept of waste because all waste becomes tomorrow’s raw materials or nutrients.
It’s a circular business approach that embraces the consumer, and not only to develop carpet ranges that are creative, hard-wearing, and fit for purpose. It’s a strategy that encourages health and wellness, and it places a real priority on people and the environment.
It may still be human creativity that drives interior design, but the new agenda must also embrace innovations in sustainability.