Tag Archives: Environmentally Friendly

3 ways to make meeting spaces, workplaces sustainable

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Green office spaces can boost health and productivity, and business owners are looking for ways to become eco-friendlier.

Whether one works from a home office or owns a small business or a large corporation, there are ways to reduce the environmental footprint of the business, in return decreasing costs associated with energy consumption, to lower the cost of business and create a healthier workspace environment.

Visionect recently introduced the Joan Meeting Room Assistant, an energy efficient digital door label and meeting room scheduling solution. Here are three trends in meeting spaces, according to the company, that promote a sustainable workplace:

  • Promote green office practices: If you want an environmentally friendly office space design, ensure that your meeting space promotes green office practices. Some ways to ensure that your office is green is to go digital. Physical calendars for meeting room reservations are not very green. Getting a digital conference room reservation system reduces unnecessary waste. Other green office practices include telecommuting or using public transit, business casual attire and powering down at night when it comes to shutting down unused devices to save on the overall energy bill.
  • LEED certification score and environmentally friendly office products: The U.S. Green Building Council created a scoring system to rate the greenness of a building. The scoring system is called Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED). The highest potential LEED score is 110. Based on the number of points a building earns, it will receive one of four ratings: certified (40+), silver (50+), gold (60+) and platinum (80+). The points are weighted based on environmental impact. Achieving a high LEED certification score can be done by incorporating three green friendly factors; green construction methods, sustainable materials, and energy-efficient systems into the building process. When designing a meeting room, ensure they meet the LEED certification score by buying eco-friendly office furniture.
  • Use environmentally friendly office products: Environmentally friendly office products can range from reusable pens, to LED lamps and bulbs, to recycled paper and rechargeable batters, as long as you research and replace what can be more eco-friendly in your office, you are closer to being green. When it comes to reusable pens, stop throwing away pens and start using reusable ones. Even when it comes to ink and toner cartridges, each reused cartridge saves 2.5 pounds of metal and plastic and half a gallon of oil. Plus, it costs about 1.5 times less than new cartridges.

Topics: Architectural Firms, Automation and Controls, Building Owners and Managers, Energy Saving Products, Great Commercial Buildings, Office Buildings, Sustainable Communities, Technology, USGBC

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Trends That Will Influence US Homes in 2017

During the past few decades interior design in the US has borrowed much from other cultures, as has Europe, to the extent that both have truly become reflective of global influences. This is not at all a bad thing, as many of the home-grown European and US trends have likewise caught on elsewhere.

Colorful Fashions

In 2015, the Pantone color of the year was Marsala, which is a wine produced around the Italian city of the same name in Sicily. In 2016, for the first time the company nominated a blend of two colors known as Rose Quartz and Serenity.

After the deep plum red of Marsala and the baby blue and pink shades of the pairing of Rose Quartz and Serenity, many design experts are looking towards shades of green as a possibility for 2017, although others believe that earthy shades and pastels will continue to be popular.

Emerald was the Pantone color of the year in 2013 and Turquoise in 2010, so although some interior professionals have touted dark green as the new replacement for navy and midnight blues, variations on hues such as sand (2006), orange (2012) and yellow (2009) may yet be resurrected.

One thing is for certain: every aspect of interior design will be touched by the result of Pantone’s 2017 color of the year, including decorative schemes and accessories, textiles, and flooring, as well as indoor and outdoor furnishings.

Pantone color of the year, Marsala.
Marsala was the Pantone color of the year.


Taking care of the environment has soared to the top of the agenda for those concerned with many aspects of home interiors and lifestyles. In 2016, increasing climate change pressures helped architects and design professionals respond by taking a creative approach to construction methods and building materials.

The trend to improve power generation within home sites with the adoption of eco-friendly alternatives to fossil fuels is likely to last well into and beyond 2017, as the benefits include saving both energy and money. Rising sea levels and increasingly strong hurricane winds mean it is both responsible and cost-effective to apply environmentally friendly techniques to home building.

On Trend Materials

While cool marble and sizzling copper were sought after in 2016, it looks like 2017 may well be the year of clay and wicker in place of marble, while mixed metals seem to be on course for a new lease of life in 2017. It’s likely that dusting off the family silver, gold, polished nickel and brass may well be worthwhile, as well as burnished metals and black steel.

Terracotta has also been mentioned as part of the new décor for 2017, but this is not a throwback to rustic tiles. Instead, it represents a segue into stylish fireplace cladding and elegant interior feature walls with a matte finish. With the trend towards homes becoming more open plan, feature walls are a useful way to break up larger spaces and absorb some sound.

Another material that is making something of a comeback in this respect is cork – placed underneath stone tops on coffee tables, on side tables and also stools. Some interior designers predict the rise in working from home will not only result in the creation of more home office spaces, but also encourage homeowners to clad some walls completely in cork, the better to pin-up maps, schedules and fun notes to family members.

Wood and Textiles

It seems like there’s a kind of swap going on between timber and fabric for 2017. Just as wooden bed frames are giving way to elegantly plush upholstered bed heads, fussy drapes seem set to be replaced with chic spare elegant shutters.

In a way, this is all about bringing modernist architecture into interior design – specifically, form follows function. The bedroom atmosphere should be calming and perhaps a tad glamorous and can be softened by additional fabric to achieve this effect.

On the other hand, the functional areas in homes such as living rooms, kitchens, playrooms and the home office are activity spaces. These can be stripped back to showcase the clean lines of the window openings. To find out more about padded bed heads, check local retailers, and to learn about the benefits of installing shutters, click on window shutter video guides.

Quirky Corners

One trend that is set to really take off in 2017 is the creation of interesting and customized nooks and crannies. So many homes have the same interior layout that they can end up looking like every other house on the block, both inside and out. This is one of the reasons why the flexibility of open plan living is becoming more popular. Whether a household needs quiet calm corners for study, soundproof basements for playing video games or relaxing tranquil spaces with a comfy sofa for reading, it looks like being able to personalize even the smallest of spaces is a surefire winner for the creation of the dream home in 2017.

Structured Plants

Statement indoor plants change with the seasons, and in 2017, it looks like the olive tree could just dominate the domestic interior. Despite this, some experts predict that the best plants for improving air quality may come into their own, as people are more conscious of environmental issues. Among these are the succulent Aloe Vera, the bright and breezy Gerbera daisy, and the Chinese evergreen, which produces beautiful blooms and red berries. All these are known to cleanse the air of a variety of air pollutants and toxins, thereby promoting a cleaner home atmosphere.

Modern Vintage

Finally, one enduring trend seems to be the fashion for contemporary furniture based on vintage styles. This is not likely to go away anytime soon. It includes items that have natural textures and are also durable, such as abaca, cane and rattan.

The desire to make the best possible use of natural and sustainable resources makes sense in the context of how popular upcycling and repurposing has become. Indeed, it may mean that 2017 becomes known as a revitalizing game changer in terms of what has become the throwaway society.

Whether it’s new color schemes or a mixture of different textural choices around the home, the design trends that will influence US home interiors heading into the New Year are bound to be exciting ones.

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Scandinavian Design Brings Simplicity to the States


On the 11th floor of the Merchandise Mart sits a Nordic design hub of activity and excitement – even when the showroom is utterly devoid of people. One may have noticed the new Scandinavian Spaces location during NeoCon as tides of onlookers flowed through, lounging on the sofas, having conversations in the moss alcove and seemingly conducting meetings over a series of seating systems. But even if you missed the NeoCon introduction, the bevy of awards and mentions in the short few months since June has left many in the industry wondering whether the Scandinavian furniture company appeared seemingly overnight.

The answer: yes and no.


Brothers and co-owners Thomas and Robert Jönsson have been working diligently since 2011 to grow the Scandinavian Spaces brand. After seven years of attending NeoCon, they invested in their own showroom in Chicago. The electrifyingly colorful showroom, designed by Ghislaine Viñas, won Best Small Showroom and introduced the brand to the wider commercial design market. Since then, they’ve increased their sales team and reach, utilizing the momentum gained through the annual trade show.

Things have moved quickly.

However, the Jönsson brothers grew up with an entrepreneurial father who saw modernistic simplicity – a hallmark in their native Sweden – was missing from American office designs. Although working in tech sales during the ‘90s, the elder Jönsson decided to tap into the demand for upgraded corporate interiors after the dot-com burst.

Thomas and Robert grew up helping their father’s fledgling business, assembling furniture on weekends.

Both moved on to other fields in college; Thomas received a chemical science degree from University of California, Berkeley, while Robert moved to Austin, Texas, to pursue a finance BA and accounting MA from University of Texas.

As Robert puts it, laughing at the irony, “I said there was no way in hell I was going to continue our father’s work.”

The stock market once again had other plans for the Jönssons. Robert called Thomas, convincing him to move to Austin from Stockholm, and together they approached their parents in purchasing the company with the goal of bringing Scandinavian design and furniture to the States.

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Today they represent nine Scandinavian companies – all of which currently come from Sweden. While their heritage and ties stem from Sweden (where they both were born and lived until the ‘90s), Thomas said the use of the term “Scandinavian” was intentional. They have plans to continue expanding as far as possible and decided from the beginning not to create constraints on their brand. The future of the company can see the inclusion of design from around the Scandinavian regions.


Already that expansion is evident. In 2018 they leased the newly available 11th floor spot in the Merchandise Mart just in time for NeoCon.

They admit they may have jumped the gun, and waiting another year to settle into a showroom space could have been helpful (particularly as Thomas’s first child was born in April), but fortune tends to favor the brave.

It also favors those who know how to surround themselves with those who can fill the gaps in their abilities and knowledge. They hired Ghislaine Viñas to design the showroom, and her strong grasp of interiors and colors pulled the space together, sometimes even against the brothers’ initial opinions.

In Scandinavian countries, bright hues are often used, which gave Viñas a wide berth for her designs. “I remember when she came to us with the original color schematics and we were like… oh man…” laughs Robert, recounting their nerves over designing the showroom.

Thomas adds, “I remember opening it up and saying ‘Rob! It’s a yellow sofa!’”

“What made me nervous were all the tones of yellow,” Robert continues. “I wasn’t sure and asked, ‘Can you do this?’ I remember [Viñas] said: ‘Robert, I’m an expert at this. You’re colorblind. Let me do my job.’”

That trust earned the Best Small Showroom award at NeoCon, and the multi-tones of yellow not only ended up working but have become the most noticeable aspects of the space.


Much has been said over the years regarding the importance of wellness in workplace design, as well as the reemergence of Modernism in America.

The history of design in the Scandinavian region has always centered around wellness and Modernist aesthetics, however. According to the United Nations, Norway, Denmark and Sweden were three of the top five happiest countries in the world, alongside their Nordic neighbors Finland and Iceland. (Scandinavia is defined as Norway, Denmark and Sweden, while Nordic countries are Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Iceland and their associated territories.)

Known for being the birthplace of IKEA, Swedish design has often been associated with clean, simplistic lines and utilitarianism. IKEA began selling mail-order furniture in 1948. The flat-packages meant convenient and cheap shipping, and the self-assembly aspect of simplistic furniture allowed even the most impoverished citizens to buy and personalize their furniture and living spaces. The no-nonsense of furniture highlighted by whimsical, bright and colorful accessories and textiles has continued to be a hallmark of Swedish design.

Robert points out that looking at Swedish design history, one would see the same aesthetic further back in time.

Additionally, while America is debating what constitutes wellness in the workplace – as well as sit-stand desks and the open office versus closed office question – Scandinavian design has been at the forefront of health and wellness. Pointing to KINNARPS’ Polaris and Series[P] sit-stand desks, Robert mentions that the company sold its first sit-stand systems in the early ‘90s. “Scandinavian design is about 10 years ahead of the rest of the world.”


Of course, being the first doesn’t automatically mean most successful, but the Jönssons are hoping that some of their more extreme pieces will be seen as innovative classics by history – even if they aren’t currently flying off the shelves.

That hasn’t been the case for their Vagabond by Materia system that began selling immediately after being presented. Robert says they were shocked by the reception at first – they were prepared to wait months or years after a product is made available for it to start to gain traction in the industry. Vagabond’s success has helped the brothers find their feet in a market they admit they don’t have an educational background in.


What lies at the heart of Scandinavian Spaces, beyond the aesthetic, bright colors and awards, are the ideals of the Jönsson brothers that they are currently learning to disseminate throughout their fast-growing company. Creating a company culture is hard, they admitted, but it’s an important aspect of creating longevity for their brand and emboldening their employees.

When asked what’s on the horizon or if they needed some time to absorb all the changes in the last year, they laughed and answered “a little bit of both.”

[ More Design News | How This Wildlife Refuge Created the Top Restroom of 2018 ]



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Continue reading Scandinavian Design Brings Simplicity to the States

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