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Tag Archives: International Interior Design Association

The Intrinsic Need for Healthy and Sustainable Materials

04.08.2019

Carolyn Ames Noble

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The built environment accounts for over two-thirds of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. In the majority of the places we live, work and play, research has realized that indoor air quality is more polluted than the outdoors, even in the largest industrialized metropolitan areas. This is cause for concern because humans spend over 90% of our time indoors.

The case for healthy and sustainable materials in this time of turbulent climate change is ubiquitous. Sustainable materials help reduce carbon emissions and nurture the overall health of the planet. Harmoniously, healthy materials produce meaningful eudemonia to the inhabitants of the space.


WasteBasedBrick Composition, StoneCycling

These types of holistic spaces are vital, fundamental to the health and equity of humans and to the health of the planet. There’s also an intrinsic and perhaps even a philosophical need for these materials in our dwellings. In the future, perhaps these materials should become the baseline for all building projects.

A Look at Organizations

There are many admirable organizations that support healthy and sustainable design philosophies, included and not limited to:

McLennan Leaves His Handprint on Sustainable Design

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American Society of Interior Designers (ASID), founded in 1975, champions that “design impacts lives” and uses evidence-based design and research to demonstrate how.

USGBC began its LEED program mission in 1993. Twenty-six years later, LEED is the most widely used green building rating system in the world. Available for virtually all building, community and home project types, LEED provides a framework to create healthy, highly efficient and cost-saving green buildings.

The International Living Future Institute (ILFI), founded in 2009, defines its mission to make communities socially just, culturally rich and ecologically restorative. The ILFI’s Living Product Challenge is a philosophy first, advocacy tool and product certification program that defines the most advanced measures of sustainability in product manufacturing today. The Challenge is comprised of seven performance categories called Petals:

  • Place
  • Water
  • Energy
  • Health and happiness
  • Materials
  • Equity
  • Beauty

Launched in 2014 after years of extensive research and development across disciplines, the International Well Building Institute (IWBI) strives to revolutionize the way people think about buildings. It explores how design, operations and behaviors within the places where we live, work, learn and play can be optimized to advance human-health and wellbeing. IWBI offers the WELL certification program focused on seven guiding concepts:

  • Air
  • Water
  • Nourishment
  • Light
  • Fitness
  • Comfort
  • Mind

The mission for viable buildings starts with the people, processes and products that comprise them.

The Product: A Cascade for Sustainability

Wall finish and flooring selections are fundamental on the six planes of interior selections. Paint color is appointed perfectly with coatings like Sherwin-Williams Harmony, which was a green industry-first in 2001. Harmony meets the most stringent VOC regulations and has achieved GREENGUARD Gold Certification satisfying LEED v4 v4.1 criteria. Its additional qualities of odor-eliminating and formaldehyde-reducing technologies help improve indoor air quality by reducing VOCs from possible sources such as cabinets, carpets and fabrics.

 

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Regarding color for spaces of vitality and retreat alike, Emily Kantz, interior designer at the Sherwin-Williams Company, recommends the following palettes:

“The Electric Exploration palette features the striking Rivulet, Rejuvenate and Izmir Purple. These colors bring energy and life into the space. The Off the Grid palette is a breath of fresh air with the nature inspired colors of Almond Roca, Copper Mountain and Cascades, bringing the earthy elements of the great outdoors inside to give us a sense of health and well-being.”

Mohawk Group has a suite of Living Product Challenge Petal-certified flooring including:

  • Lichen carpet plank
  • Nutopia carpet plank
  • Nutopia Matrix carpet Plank
  • Sunweave broadloom/area rug
  • Pivot Point enhanced resilient tile


Mohawk Group SmartFlower Installation, Mohawk Group

Representative of the Living Product Challenge, Sunweave’s Petal Certification aims to leave a handprint rather than a footprint. Mohawk Group engaged in a special handprinting partnership with Groundswell to install 10 SmartFlower solar systemsin underserved communities and at educational institutions with STEM programs across the U.S.

George Bandy Jr., chief sustainability officer at Mohawk Flooring North America, considers the designer’s role expanded well beyond the typical project scope to being the connector between carbon and social change. He asks, “How can the designer bring the enormity of the climate change issue to each individual client and make it personally relevant?”

He considers his own place in the design industry as CSO not as a career pinnacle, but instead part of a greater journey that began in the 1990s at the University of Texas – Houston. He served as the Chairman of the USGBC and worked alongside Ray Anderson at Interface before joining Mohawk Group three years ago.

At Mohawk, Bandy also sees himself as the connector – in his case, connecting the dots between the internal and external product creation, between the industry and the community. He envisions the product as a cascade for sustainability, utilizing sustainable practicesthroughout manufacturing, and leaving a lasting, positive social impact on the communities where Mohawk plants are located.

Waste Reimagined

Striving for a circular economy, designers have reimagined, repurposed and reused what was supposed to be waste. A category of new and innovative composites from plastics and other discarded materials has been invented. Foresso is such a composite: a sheet material composed of timber and wood waste from sawmills.

Conor Taylor, creative director at Foresso, says, “We consider ourselves very lucky to get to work with timber every day, the richness of wood adds warmth to interiors and can make any space more welcoming. Nowadays it is hugely important to consider the sustainability of our work so we endeavor to use every part of the tree in Foresso and hope that by doing so we can encourage others to make the most of this incredible material.”


Foresso Charcoal Mono Detail, Foresso

Tom van Soest and Ward Massa founded StoneCycling in the Netherlands in 2013, their shared vision that the need for reimagined waste products was also the opportunity. They created a building material whose main input is the waste output from construction sites, which massively pollute the earth. Their product, WasteBasedBricks, which as an early prototype was conceived in a homemade industrial blender, has evolved – and their circular and sustainable products are being used across Europe and the U.S.


Ward Massa + Tom van Soest, StoneCycling

Also a product of the Netherlands, the tulip may be the single most iconic image from the region. In fact, 77% of the world’s tulips come from this small country of 12 provinces, comprising for roughly two billion tulips. “Strangely, the most beautiful part of the flower, the head, has no economic value except being a coveted photo object of many a tourist,” says Tjeerd Veenhoven of Studio Tjeerd Veenhoven. By a process of extraction from what would be the waste residual of the dried flower head, pigment is distilled. Color is a wonder in this artisanal process, and applications range from uses in finger paint to biological plastics.


Tulip Pigments, Studio Tjeerd Veenhoven

Mother Nature Engineered

In the quest to save Mother Nature, nature itself is investigated and replicated. Bolt Threads developed Microsilk after studying the silk spun by spiders and produced their own protein. Whereas 60% of fabric fibers are petroleum based, Microsilk is generated mostly of sugar. Bolt Threads has partnered with iconic brands such Patagonia and Stella McCartney. The company currently doesn’t have any specific plans for the interior design material industry, though the brand is excited about what the future holds and will continue to introduce new materials for a more sustainable world.


Bolt Threads Necktie, Bolt Threads

Renee Hytry Derrington, vice president and global design lead at Formica Corporation, reports of the company that the past several years, Formica has introduced a suite of sustainability décor-based products including Reclaimed Denim Fiber and Paper Terrazzo patterns. Reclaimed Denim Fiber is real reclaimed denim fiber made from post-production waste collected at cloth production mills, embedded in paper. No one sheet is alike due to the natural papermaking process, which will be seen as a slight linear direction to the laminate sheet. Paper Terrazzo utilizes small fragments of post-production solid color paper that would otherwise have gone to waste. These paper chips are re-used to create a new paper sheet that is 30 percent reclaimed material. This paper technique uses small-batch craft production so that each sheet is unique and natural.

Bio-based plastics are forecasted to be a $35B business by 2022. Corn starch, sugar, cooking oil and even waste avocado stones are re-engineered for use in this material category. Algae and fungi-created materials will continue to bloom in use and scale. And designers continue seeking solutions reimaging the ultimate waste product – carbon – itself.

“In the future, healthy and sustainability materials will be considered the standard and not called out as special or unique. This will be the result of product designers reusing and reducing waste, considering the human interface and thinking about the environment during the design process,” predicts Hytry Derrington.

Next Up: Creating Unique Glass Lighting Fixtures | NCAA Final “Floor” for the Final Four Revealed

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WHY AUTHENTIC IS ALWAYS GOOD DESIGN

Primo Orpilla, FIIDA, Principal and Co-founder of Studio O+A

I’m often asked for my definition of “good design.” Like design itself, the answer to that question changes constantly. When I first started in this industry 30 years ago, good design was all about efficiency—getting function out of a space by arranging its occupants in tidy, reproducible patterns. When tech came along with its “question everything” culture, good design became more focused on meeting individual needs—the need for comfort, for self-expression, for really good coffee somewhere nearby.

GOOD DESIGN EQUALS COMMUNITY

Today, I think good design has evolved into a broader concept of community, an environment that functions as a healthy and meaningful ecosystem. Through all these definitions one thing has remained constant: good design is authentic. If that sounds like Dieter Rams’ 11th principle, it’s probably because it grows from the same roots that sprouted Dieter’s other 10—humility and integrity. Everyone recognizes and responds to quality. You don’t have to have a maker’s temperament to feel the value in something that was lovingly crafted and put together with pride.

As a designer of workplaces and, more recently, of workplace furniture, I have come to understand the impact subtle interactions with texture have on the way we feel about our day—the sound a knuckle rapped on solid wood makes, the depth of color in a true ceramic tile, the subtle message of reassurance we get from settling onto real leather. These are pleasures available only in the original.

More Community Design: Advocacy in Design

REPRODUCTIONS CAN’T REPRODUCE THEM.

For that reason, I always encourage clients to use authentic Herman Miller or Knoll products. These iconic designs are timeless because the tradition of quality they represent never expires. That quality should not be undermined with fakes. I am also on the lookout for new artisans and authentic manufacturers—the Charles and Ray Eames of the future. The design industry has created a highly receptive market for companies and individuals dedicated to creating and distributing original work.

O+A is always happy when we can specify products from MASH Studios or Dsegnare. Even happier when we can work with those fine craftsmen and women to make custom items for our custom interiors. When I was partnering with Kimball Office on the design for my multi-functional workstation, Canopy, I realized a truly successful product encompassed all of the definitions of good design—it was efficient, it met the user’s individual needs, it contributed to the healthy ecosystem of the workplace. To touch all those bases, to make something that will evolve alongside the changing values of accelerating times, it is necessary to slow down and do the careful, attentive work that only comes from original effort.

You can’t knock off quality. Knock your knuckles on a table to hear why.

 


Primo Orpilla is the co‐founder of Studio O+A, a multi-disciplinary San Francisco design firm that has changed the way we think about work and workplace. Recently named Global Chair for Student Experience at the International Interior Design Association, Primo’s new focus is empowering the next generation of designers. In 2016, O+A won the Cooper Hewitt Design Award for Interior Design. In 2017, FRAME Publishers released a comprehensive retrospective of the firm’s work: “Studio O+A: Twelve True Tales of Workplace Design.”

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Baby-saving Midwest Fetal Care Center becomes a showplace of medical tech and design

Tess Jentink is the practice manager at the new Midwest Fetal Care Center, which specializes in high-risk, complex pregnancies.

Children’s Minnesota and Allina Health left an unenclosed void on the ground floor of the Mother Baby Center in Minneapolis when it opened five years ago.

Then in 2016, that void was transformed into an unusual medical space — the Michael and Ann Ciresi Midwest Fetal Care Center, a joint program for Allina, Children’s and the Minnesota Perinatal Physicians practice group, and hailed as the first advanced fetal care center in the Upper Midwest and one of only a few in the country.

Today, the space illustrates powerful trends in the medical-office industry, including the use of interior design to enhance patient experiences and spur closer collaboration between medical teams. Its doctors and designer, the Minneapolis office of international architecture firm HDR, are holding it up as a prime example of the “clinic of the future.”

 

The center specializes in care for high-risk pregnancies and is pioneering new procedures such as open fetal surgery, in which the fetus is exposed in the womb and partly removed to allow for corrective surgery.

 

Even before its move from its cramped former quarters at Children’s Hospital, the center was recognized as one of the top programs in the country for outcomes of surgical corrections of fetal anomalies.

 

The process of designing and building out the new space was meant to address both medical and architectural goals, its medical leaders told members of the International Interior Design Association professional group during a tour of the facility this week.

 

“When we first began thinking about designing this center, we were not only we were looking at the geography and the brick and mortar of it, but also figuring out how to tie together all the programs at Children’s and Abbott Northwestern addressing maternal care,” said Dr. William Wagner, president of Minnesota Perinatal Physicians. “When you take a look at it now, you can clearly see how we’ll be able to address those needs through the 21st century.”

 

Dr. Brad Feltis, the center’s surgical director, added that because it’s one of only a handful of advanced fetal-care clinics in North America, everything about its design was meant to reflect innovation in the field.

 

“Our care model is the only one of its kind, so technological advancement and sophistication was a priority,” he said. “For instance, if you have a child with spina bifida, our care model is, ‘You come through this lobby, and now our world revolves around you.’

 

“We had to design this clinic to reflect that. Just today, we had maternal fetal specialists, pediatric surgeons, pediatric neurosurgeons, geneticists, neonatologists … all of them serving families with complex needs right here, rather than sending the patient around to see all these different specialists, as would have been necessary previously. It’s much more efficient, and really resonates with our patients.”

 

This patient-centric care model meant the center’s design emphasis had to be not only technological sophistication, such as its state-of-the art teleconference room allowing real-time communication with operating room teams as well as with fetal-care experts from around the world. It also needed to focus on making mothers facing tough pregnancies and their families feel comfortable, said Julie Robertson of HDR, an interior design specialist who was a leader on the project.

 

“It’s not just all examination rooms here,” she said. “We’ve also included consultation rooms, which aren’t so clinical and allow for a welcoming and embracing environment for patients and their families to talk to their doctors.”

 

Another patient-friendly design feature, Robertson added, is the big-screen ultrasound exam room, in which expectant mothers and families can watch the scans as the technicians conduct them.

 

Don Jacobson is a freelance writer based in St. Paul. He is the former editor of the Minneapolis-St. Paul Real Estate Journal.

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