Canadian Architect


Interface introduces biophilic design and beautiful thinking at IIDEXCanada 2014

December 5, 2014
by Canadian Architect

Workplace interiors inspired by nature can inspire beautiful thinking. That is the premise behind Human Nature™, a new carpet tile collection from Interface, and a key topic of conversation that the global carpet manufacturer recently led with special programming at IIDEXCanada 2014. Human Nature, which explores the innate connection humans have to the earth and takes its cues from the visual, tactile textures found in the most elemental of floor coverings – forest floors, grassy fields and pebbled garden paths – which was featured in the Interface booth at IIDEXCanada.

“The more we learn about our natural world, the more we’re inspired to change the way we approach design,” said Interface executive creative director Chip DeGrace. “This collection has both brains and beauty, and we’d like to believe Mother Nature would be both flattered and impressed with what Interface has produced…what architects and interior designers can create with it…and what beautiful thinking those creations can inspire in the workplace.”

Designed by David Oakey, Interface’s longtime collaborator, Human Nature features five 25cm x 1m skinny plank carpet tile patterns that evoke a variety of earthly textures, from tumbled pebbles to freshly cut grass, all the while offering smooth transitions to surfaces that mimic traditional hard flooring, like well-worn wood and polished stone. The skinny plank format – which works beautifully in commercial interiors of all types – is one that naturally encourages design diversity.

“Scientists have found that humans crave sensory change and variation, though our indoor environments are often flat, unnatural places,” Oakey said. “And though there’s no doubt that the design community is drawn to the aesthetics of concrete, stone and wood, the physical and acoustical benefits of soft surfaces are impossible to ignore. In Human Nature we’ve combined the best of both worlds – the hard surface look of planks with the benefits of soft, textured carpet tile that feels comfortable and natural underfoot.”

The skinny planks flow fluidly from one tile to the next, creating a seamless broadloom look in linear installations. They also pair perfectly with 50cm and 1m square carpet tiles, and are ideal for composing imaginative floor designs – herringbone patterns, inset area rugs, and directional patterns for wayfinding. The mix of textures can also be configured to help in delineating spaces that are intended for private work and those for collaboration. Additionally, the format offers another important advantage over hard surface flooring: Carpet tile has been shown to absorb sound more effectively than many hard surfaces and thus allows for the inclusion of zones with improved acoustics, creating more comfortable, productive work environments.

Each of Human Nature’s five skinny plank styles is unique, with a dramatically different feel and texture. HN820™ is the simplest tile, providing a neutral ground for its more textured companions. A near twin, HN810™ is defined by added volume and dimension. Both feature a multitonal, lightly distressed look that echoes well-worn wood or limestone. A distinctive polished-pebble look and feel dominates HN840™, while HN850™ is a transition tile that bridges between these three Human Nature siblings, appearing to be the pebbly surface but with a random wearing away. HN810, HN820, HN840 and HN850, which share a unified palette of warm greys, buttery neutrals and browns, are all Interface i2® products, a design platform based in biomimicry that allows for selective replacement thanks to varying patterning and mergeable dye lots. Lastly, with its shaggy texture HN830™ injects a grassy look and pop of colour into borders, insets and accents in a palette of orange, red, yellow, blue and green.

This powerhouse combination of sustainable thinking and striking aesthetics is also inspiring the company’s programming at IIDEXCanada. An onsite augmented reality activation allowed visitors to explore biophilic design and human nature concepts, and they heard from influencers in the A&D community about “Who Needs Beauty?”

Interface extended the conversation to the show’s educational programming. Nadine Gudz, Interface Director of Sustainability Strategy, participated in a panel discussion titled “Highlighting Materials Sustainability and Transparency Through Play and Frank Discussion.”  Gudz’s co-panelists included Darryl Neate, Director of Sustainability at Oxford Properties Group, and Monica Polo, Resource Specialist at

Design Centre, and they presented a competitive game-style presentation that clarified the onslaught of information on building and design materials, the processing of these materials, and full supply-chain transparency.

Interface also presented a seminar titled “Life. Work. And the Virtual Generation. – Fact or Fiction?” – a highly interactive session that tapped into a dynamic panel of design and technology experts to correct some common fallacies about the “virtual generation.” The session featured distinguished speakers Annie Bergeron, Design Director of Gensler Toronto; Kevin Rauch, co-founder of hitplay Toronto; and Stanley Sun, Partner of Mason Studio Toronto.

“The definition of sustainability is changing as we come to better understand the ways that our buildings and cities impact nature, as well as the ways that nature impacts the built environment and its inhabitants,” said Gudz. “With both product and programming we hope to inspire the kind of beautiful thinking and spaces that ultimately improve end users’ mental and physical health and productivity.”

Interface Canada, Inc. is a subsidiary of Interface, Inc., the world’s largest manufacturer of commercial carpet tile. In 2012, Interface Canada celebrated its 30th anniversary, marking three decades of leadership and innovation in sustainability and design in Canada. Interface, Inc., now in its 41st year, is setting the pace for development of modular carpet using materials and processes that take less from the environment, and is well along the path to “Mission Zero®,” the company’s promise to eliminate any negative impact it has on the environment by the year 2020. Interface’s worldwide carpet manufacturing facilities maintain third party registration to the ISO 14001 Environmental Management System standard, and the company obtained the first-ever Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) for the commercial floor covering industry in North America. The company is recognized globally for its commitment to build environmental considerations into its business decisions.

For additional information, please visit,,,,, #MakeBeautyHappen

Canadian Architect

Canadian Architect

Canadian Architect is a magazine for architects and related professionals practicing in Canada. Canada's only monthly design publication, Canadian Architect has been in continuous publication since 1955.
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