I recently followed a webinar hosted by the UK team at Interface, a US-based manufacturer of sustainable floorings for commercial interiors. The company’s main mission, set out early on by its founder, was in fact to stay carbon neutral and help reverse the effects of global warming. Now, their objective is to become carbon negative by 2040. The plan called ‘Climate take back’ is based on four pillars.
‘Live zero’, which means conducting the business by adopting practices that don’t impact nature and the environment in any way. ‘Love Carbon’, continuous research of raw materials and processes that make use of waste carbon emissions. ‘Lead Industrial Re-revolution’, continue the push toward the development of new and sustainable business models. ‘Let Nature Cool’, give nature the opportunity to reverse the warming process by not interfering with our industrial activities.
During the webinar, two products and their respective lines were discussed. This led the conversation into their applications, colour psychology, and sustainability, not only through the material itself but also through Biophilic Design which in turn benefits our performance and mental and physical wellbeing.
If you are interested in this topic you might want to check our other related pieces:
Biophilic Design: the Shape of nature
Biophilic Materials for Interior Design: How to get it right
The Biophilic office of the future: Welcome, Milan 2021
About the products
The two products presented are different floor covering tiles. One is carpet in a pattern called Ice Breaker. The second is an LVT (standing for Luxury Vinyl Tile) called Iridescence.
Ice Breaker look takes inspiration from fragmented ice patterns found in nature. While it was initially produced in a scale of greys, the portfolio has been expanded to include several new tones. This facilitates its use and promotes the development of modern and biophilic-oriented interiors.
To extend the options, extensive research on colour trends has been conducted by Interface. It showed that right now, as well as in the next couple of years, calming colours that support wellbeing will gain importance. So, warm tones such as mushroom and oatmeal will often substitute neutral ones, giving interiors a homely and peaceful feel.
Similarly, blue and teals will also be used for the calm they inspire and the connection with nature that they convey, as we discussed previously in our colour psychology guide. Pinks, yellows and greens will also be toned down to obtain a more soothing atmosphere overall or used in brighter shades mainly as accent colours.
Finally, warm tones of peach, pink and terracotta will also trend over the next two years.
The second product called Iridescence is obtained by using mineral and organic colour pigments to give back 12 different colours organised over 4 palettes. Of course, similar principles to those applied to Ice Breaker have been used in the choice of these palettes for Iridescence.
The Iridescence range, however, features also some more bold colour choices that can convey a brighter and more vivid atmosphere.
Both these materials are carbon-neutral throughout their lifecycle and contain a high percentage of recyclable components. Additionally, the Ice Breaker efficiency has been more than doubled bringing its carbon footprint to just 4.5 Kg of CO2 per square metre, instead of the previous 9.6.
About market and colour trends
The updated product line was introduced to cater to new needs and preferences caused by a variety of factors.
First is the ongoing merge between professional and residential spaces. The boundaries between these two types of interiors have become increasingly blurred. This is even more important in a post-pandemic world where lots of people used to work remotely from home or in hybrid spaces.
This trend causes the necessity to mix more than ever materials and colours to create homely, flexible and original interiors. So earthy and pastel tones gained importance as well as softer and more inviting furniture pieces.
Secondly, another important factor driving this development is sustainability. So, as big tech before many others (Facebook, Apple, Amazon) are introducing Biophilic design into their offices. Much like for the flexibility trend, here too the people within a space are the focus as is their wellbeing and mental health, trends that gained major momentum too after the pandemic and the lockdowns that affected pretty much every country.
Jeff Bezos at Amazon Biophilic Offices. Source LA Times
Finally, the more toned-down options, along with the sustainability research, also bring refinement. In an industrial surrounding, with contrasting accents, the light and pastel shades can give a remarkably upscale look to an interior.
On the other hand, the brighter options, often used as accents on top of softer and more neutral backgrounds, instead answer to the need of creating a lively and energetic environment. Usually in common spaces, such as a co-working communal area, to encourage networking and community building.
Identified these necessities, the major colour trends, or ‘colour stories’ that the team at Interface highlighted, and applied to its products were, earthy bright tones, foraging green, and background blues. Here's an example:
It was a very interesting event, with lots of insights on colour trends and reinforcing our efforts into the adoption of more sustainable solutions in interior design. The innovative, refined, and bold colour choices were also very inspiring, and useful to understand how this market has changed and which of these changes were enhanced even more by the events of 2020.