Tag Archives: Wellness

Latest Tile Design Trends From Spain

By the middle of last year, more than 1.5 billion square feet of tile had already been used in the United States, according to a leading industry group, and that number regularly increases. This isn’t terribly surprising. Tile is a durable, low maintenance, versatile and generally affordable building material used indoors and out.

If you’re a homeowner planning to remodel or a building professional planning a new project, chances are you have a number penciled in for tile. Chances are, you also care what it looks like, so that your space is up to date. Where are you getting your style pointers? If you answered Europe, you’re ahead of the game. Some of the most technologically advanced, trend-setting tiles come from Spain and Italy.

Cevisama, the massive annual tile expo in Valencia, Spain is the first major event each year to track European trends. Here’s what was hot at the just-wrapped show, according to Tile of Spain, the Miami-based branch of the Spanish tile manufacturers’ trade association.

Color and Pattern

Bright colors, colorful murals, botanicals and interesting textures were hot this year. Europeans use tile in ways Americans don’t, like feature walls or headboards, for example. This trend might show up here on backsplashes or fireplace surrounds for adventurous clients.

Color and pattern spark new tile styles.BESTILE/A TILE OF SPAIN MEMBER COMPANY

Cement Style

Classic hydraulic looks have made a strong comeback these past few years, and continue to trend. They’re showing up on floors and walls, in both traditional and contemporary spaces these days, especially in eclectic bathrooms.

Classic cement-look tiles are showing up in contemporary projects.PERONDA/A TILE OF SPAIN MEMBER COMPANY

Stone Cold Beauty

You don’t need to invest in natural stone to enjoy its classic beauty any longer. European tile manufacturers have expertly reproduced its dramatic veining in low maintenance porcelain. It can be used in ever-larger slabs, as well, for countertops or shower surrounds.   In addition to marble, you’ll also see more rustic, weathered stones for interior or exterior projects.

You don’t need natural stone to get the look any longer.AZTECA/A TILE OF SPAIN MEMBER COMPANY

Wood Inspirations

Wood is another natural material that is well-rendered in tile. We’ve seen it in glossy and matte, textured and smooth. It is not a new trend, but one that continues to attract. Given its ability to look great indoors and out, including on both sides of a sliding glass wall, or in a full bathroom, it’s not surprising that wood-look tile is still a popular choice.

Wood-look tile goes places wood cannot, like into showers.PERONDA/A TILE OF SPAIN MEMBER COMPANY

Subway Tile Renewal

Here’s another oldie but goodie that still has strong appeal. You’ll see subway tile now in larger sizes or installed in non-horizontal patterns like herringbone or vertical. You’ll also see dimensional tile, darker grout colors, and mixed finishes for updated looks.

An old style learns new tricks for a new millennium.NATUCER/A TILE OF SPAIN MEMBER COMPANY

More places to see tile trends

If you didn’t make it to Spain for Cevisama, the also massive Cersaie expo in Bologna, Italy showcases global tile trends every September. Closer to home, the Spanish, Italian and North American tile industries unite in hosting Coverings every April in the United States. This year’s expo will be held in Orlando from April 9 through 12. (I’ll be attending again as part of the producer’s press trip.) If you’re not in the building trades, see if your architect, contractor or interior designer can bring you as a guest.



You can find more advice, trends and inspiration on beautiful, healthy homes in my books, New Kitchen Ideas That Work and the New Bathroom Idea Book, or on my Gold Notes design blog.

I’m a wellness design consultant, Certified Kitchen Designer, Certified Aging in Place Specialist, Mayo Clinic Trained Wellness Coach and the author of New Kitchen Ideas That Work and the New Bathroom Idea Book. I write, speak and consult on residential design, especially the profound links between your home and your health, for numerous publications, trade organizations and housing analysts. My writing has appeared on New Home Source, HuffPost,, Houzz and HouseLogic, and in the pages of the Los Angeles Times and Fine Homebuilding. I’m a regular contributor to the San Diego Union-Tribune and Kitchen & Bath Design News. I was honored to be named to the industry’s first 50 Innovators list by KBDN in 2017. When I’m not working, you can usually find me training for a road race (5Ks and half marathons are my favorite distances), volunteering, reading at Starbucks, traveling or hiking. My next huge fitness goal is summiting Kilimanjaro before I turn 60.

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Biophilia Study: Keys to Employee Health and Wellness

12/14/2018 |


Biophilia — the theory, science and practice of creating buildings and products inspired by and incorporating nature — has been studied since it was first popularized by Edward O. Wilson in 1984. Since then, research has increased in better understanding the impact that nature has on the psychological and physical health and wellness of humans, particularly in office interiors.

Biophilia is the theory, science and practice of creating buildings and products inspired by and incorporating nature

Biophilic design includes but isn’t limited to:

  • Access to natural light
  • Products which are made of or look like natural materials
  • The inclusion of living plants into the space
  • Lighting which mimics natural daylight

Human Spaces: The Global Impact of Biophilic Design in the Workplace, surveyed 7,600 respondents from 16 countries around the world to quantify the ways in which biophilia affects employees.

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Initial Findings

Biophilia study initial findings

The report listed eight important initial findings of the study:

  1. A third (33 percent) of office workers say that the design of an office would affect their decision to work at a company.
  2. Only 42 percent report having live plants in the office and 47 percent report having no natural light in their office.
  3. Almost a fifth (19 percent) of respondents report that there are no natural elements present in their office.
  4. Just under half (47 percent) of all respondents agree that they have felt stressed in their workplace within the last three months. This finding emphasizes the importance of identifying and enforcing practices that can improve well-being at work.
  5. Two-thirds (67 percent) of respondents report feeling happy when walking into bright office environments accented with green, yellow or blue colors.
  6. 24 percent of respondents say that their workplace doesn’t provide them with a sense of light and space.
  7. 39 percent of workers felt most productive at their own desk in a private office. Another third (36 percent) said they felt most productive at their own desk in an open office plan.
  8. 28 percent of respondents report that they don’t have a quiet space to work in their office.

Key Findings

In studying the impact of biophilia in the workplace, the study found:

  1. Key findings in the biophilia study
  2. Greater levels of stress were reported by those employees who didn’t have a window view. In contrast, window views of greenery and water were linked with lower levels of stress.
  3. Nature-resembling colors such as green, blue and brown positively impacted employee well-being. Gray colors within the workspace had a significant negative impact on employees’ levels of stress.
  4. The global trend shows that those offices that provide natural light, live plants, greenery and water features had a significantly higher level of employee well-being than those devoid of nature.
  5. Those who report that their work environment provides a sense of light and space report greater levels of well-being in comparison to those who don’t feel that their work environment is light and spacious.

What this Means for Building Owners and Facility Management

Due to technology, most employees don’t need to be present daily in an office, with many able to work full-time outside of a shared office.

For building owners and facility managemers who need to rent out their building’s space, any additional means of enticing employees to use office space can increase leasee retention and entice new occupants.

BUILDINGS Podcast Express Listen: Wellness Activities for Commercial BuildingsExpress Listen: Wellness Activities for Commercial Buildings

Find out how companies across the country are utilizing the idea of happiness and health at work.

Keeping biophilia in mind when approaching the design and layout of a building can not only increase the employees’ sense of well-being, but work toward increasing the attractiveness of the property to potential and current companies.

Studies, including the Human Spaces: The Global Impact of Biophilic Design in the Workplace, have shown that increasing the psychological and physical well-being of employees leads to increased productivity and performance, attendance (fewer sick days are reported), retention, attractiveness to recruits and user satisfaction.

Particularly as companies become increasingly owned and operated by those in the millennial population (those born between 1980 and 1995) and Generation Z (those born between 1996 and 2010), health and well-being will become more common and necessary elements of the workplace.

Both millennials and Generation Z are more understanding of their physical and mental needs, and mental health is less stigmatized by those populations. These generations will be drawn toward spaces that make them feel better, more productive and provide amenities that align with current research.

[10 Amenities to Improve Well-being at Your Property]

How to Increase Biophilic and Wellness-Centered Elements

Although it would be great if each office space could be a natural oasis of light and greenery, it’s not always possible.

The first thing that building owners and facility managers can take away from the report is that, while the trend seems to show open offices will continue to prevail, there’s a need for spaces where employees can get away and do quiet, heads-down work.

Including plants and water features in office interiors also has a profound affect on employees. Living walls are becoming easier to manage and install. However, if a permanent addition to the building isn’t in the cards, bringing in potted plants or including a water sculpture in the entryway or in the offices will stimulate the positive portion of the brain.

Living ‘Green’ Walls

Nothing says dedication to green building like putting actual greens in a building…

See stunning photos of actual living walls from Greenbuild 2018.

Color and biophilic products and elements are also an easy way to bring health and wellness to the interior. As the study stated, natural colors such as green, blue and brown decreased employee stress, while gray increased it.

Using calming blue or green paint on the walls in quiet or social areas, utilizing natural-themed wallcoverings in the same spaces, or including blue and green accents in the office, such as the upholstery for furniture, can do the trick.

Advancements in technology have also meant that durable materials such as luxury vinyl tile, ceramic and porcelain tiles, counter surfacing products and carpets/rugs are able to be designed to look identical to their natural counterparts. High-definition scanning and printing means wood and stone can be uploaded and printed directly to high-traffic products without the need for upkeep.

Incorporating artificial light that gives off a natural glow is another easy element to update.

Natural-appearing lighting is everywhere these days, so there isn’t a need to special order bulbs or change lighting fixtures. And with increased Internet of Things capabilities leading to lower prices for high-performing technology, natural lighting output has never been easier.

Two handpicked articles to read next:

Continue reading Biophilia Study: Keys to Employee Health and Wellness

How wood can increase productivity in the workplace


Office design in wood

Have you ever walked across solid oak floors, or sat behind a mahogany desk and felt an unexpected sense of motivation and wellbeing?

You are not alone. The recent Workplaces: Wellness+Wood=Productivity report has proven that weaving wood into your office design and workplace can be a major driver of wellbeing, job satisfaction and productivity.

The full report builds on the biophilia hypothesis that was first popularised by biologist and author Edward Wilson — a notion that explains, “Humans have an innate tendency to seek connections with nature and other forms of life.”

And this report has shown that not only does the modern worker crave a connection to nature (like wood) in their office, it actually inspires them to become happier, more productive  employees.

More wood means happier workers

The report indicated that more than 60 per cent of indoor workers in Australia will spend the bulk of their days in an office. Of those, only half will spend more than an hour outside in nature each day.

Read more about finding a responsibly sourced wood solution for your business.

Interestingly, over a third of Australian office workers aren’t satisfied with their physical working environment. The report showed that workers who were employed in places with more wood had higher levels of satisfaction, more positive associations with their workplace, higher levels of wellbeing, higher levels of concentration as well as improved moods and personal productivity.

Greater productivity from incorporating wood into the workplace

The report demonstrated that the notion of wood improving the productivity of workers was not idealistic, but built on fact.

Biophilic design in the workplace can increase productivity by 15 per cent, with those surveyed saying more exposed wood in the office improved their ability to concentrate and lifted their feeling of wellbeing.

More timber can help combat the ‘sickie’

Did you know that wood isn’t just great for productivity, it also means workers take less leave days as well?

The report showed that almost half of employees that were very dissatisfied with their physical workplace took unplanned leave. That is compared to less than a quarter of workers who are satisfied with their surroundings.

With only 59 per cent of workers presently happy with their surroundings, employers can help eliminate the ‘sickie’ (unplanned leave for no reason other than not wanting to come to work) by adding more wood into the office environment.

Wood the big trend in modern architecture

Grand Designs Australia host and architect Peter Maddison backed the findings of the Wellness+Wood=Productivity report and said that architects were now weaving more natural elements into their designs.

Maddison got a first-hand experience of the changes that wood inspired in a recent re-design of his own home.

“I pulled up the shag pile carpets, got rid of all the plaster ceilings and replaced them with timber ceilings and beautiful oak floors,” he said.

“I removed all the plastic laminate and put in a lot more timber surfaces. It brought a sense of calm, a much more relaxed feeling.”

Maddison said there was a major timber revolution in the 1970s when it came to architecture and that the trend is returning in the modern era.

“The nuts and berries architecture in the 1970s was raw, celebrating nature in architecture,” he said.

“That trend is coming back. Not as raw as the ’70s … but we are seeing the use of timber is coming back.”

How can I incorporate wood into my workplace?

For many, ripping up carpets or replacing walls, ceilings or other structural elements is likely a bridge too far.

But there are many ways to incorporate wood into the workplace without making dramatic structural changes. For example, 45 per cent of those surveyed said they could see a wooden desk from where they sat, 39 per cent could see wooden tables and 39 per cent were in view of wood shelving or cupboards.

Other wooden objects that can be brought into the workplace include doors, chairs, window or picture frames, floorboards and blinds. Of course, if you are looking to renovate, the option for timber ceiling beams and wooden panels on the walls and floors can be attractive additions as well.

In conclusion, it’s worth bearing in mind two things: One, that the average office refurbishment cycle in Australia is about seven years – so if you’re near the end of your current cycle, now’s the time to start planning for a more productive wooden workplace. And, two, that what applies in the workplace arguably translates to the home, whether it’s where a homeworker works or homework is done – adding wood will make it a more pleasant, productive environment.

Continue reading How wood can increase productivity in the workplace

Wellness By Design: Clodagh Harnesses the Senses to Heal

NEW YORK—Good design can support well-being. Interior designer Clodagh harnesses the five senses—sight, smell, hearing, taste and touch—to create moments of healing and tranquility in the design of hotels around the world.

“To me, wellness means that everything in design addresses the mind, body and spirit. From years of design and studying, we have a pretty good idea of what helps people to be well,” said Clodagh. “In hotels, it’s supremely important to focus on well-being as travel can be exhausting; our job is to make their destination—whether it is a pool, lounge or guestroom—a joy to be in.”

Clodagh and her creative team champion a design philosophy of life-enhancing minimalism. There is also an emphasis on building a space for guests to experience. Upon entering the East Miami in the Brickell City Centre in Miami, there are green hedges around the outer deck and the area mimics the feeling of being in the front yard of a residence. It’s a presentation that is at once striking and welcoming.

“We have seven beautiful chandeliers from a Haitian artisan outside the front door. It’s a huge, covered canopy made of wood. You have the green grounding it and incredible crystals hanging off the chandelier, which references the past and future,” said Clodagh.

Another tenet of good design is the ability to appeal to all people in different ways. For Clodagh and her design team, every step of the guest’s journey has to be special. To integrate wellness into the aesthetics, healing arts are employed.

“To do that, we have this giant toolbox of consultants and, in the more spiritual sense, we tap into the teachings of bio-geometry, Feng Shui, color chromatherapy, and scour images that date back to ancient Egyptians for inspiration,” she said. “We work with texture and smoothness. You can’t have light without shadow.”

It’s not all spiritual or introspective; there are moments of fun and whimsy in the hospitality designs Clodagh brings forth.

“We’ll use tumbled limestone for a wall, so it looks ancient. And, we like to provide people with selfie moments. It’s the best way to get the word out for the hotel, so it’s helping everybody,” she said.

When leaving a property she’s designed, Clodgah hopes guests will take with them a feeling a joy and respite.

“It’s nice to create a design that evokes our curated, very carefully minimal but comfortable ethos,” she said. “We always say it’s nice if someone says when they walk into the lobby and go ‘ahhh’ or as they enter the guestroom a deep sigh of relief comes after a long journey.”

Continue reading Wellness By Design: Clodagh Harnesses the Senses to Heal

Mohawk Group’s New NYC Showroom Embraces Wellness

The light-filled showroom incorporates several elements of the WELL Building Standard. Photography by Garrett Rowland, courtesy of Mohawk Group.

Mohawk Group recently unveiled their brand-new showroom in NYC. Located in a former textile factory in historic Chelsea, the 13,000-square-foot space was designed by Gensler and incorporates LEED and WELL Building Standard qualifications, fully expressing Mohawk’s company ethos: Believe in better.

Open layout space, the education lab, and a meeting room in Mohawk’s Chelsea showroom. Photography by Garrett Rowland, courtesy of Mohawk Group.

“Coming from our manufacturing and textile background, this building really spoke to us,” explains Jackie Dettmar, VP of commercial design and product development. “It feels like this is home. It’s part of our history and part of Mohawk.”

The Gensler-design sales cubes are designed to be versatile and engaging. Photography by Garrett Rowland, courtesy of Mohawk Group.

Flooded with natural light, the showroom embraces an open plan with inviting work and meeting spaces, versatile product displays, a working sample library, a materials education lab, and an open area for events and training. Herbs and other flora sit in simple planters along the window, exemplifying the company’s commitment to biophilia and healthy design.

The Pantry reflects the values embodied in the new WELL Standard. Photography by Garrett Rowland, courtesy of Mohawk Group.

Interior Design editor in chief Cindy Allen took a tour of the space on Facebook. “It seems to me that these days projects have to be functional, beautiful, technical, sustainable, and now with WELL, good for the people working there,” she said. “When I’m walking through this space, I feel really good.”

Experience the full tour below:

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