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Design is bigger than aesthetics alone; it’s about great design existing in harmony with nature. That’s the philosophy that led global commercial flooring brand Interface to embark on its journey towards sustainability. Without a doubt, beautiful floors have the ability to take the design of a space to the next level, but it’s so much more than that. Interface challenges itself to create the greatest good for the environment by developing innovative production processes and delivering flooring specified by designers and architects that is better for the planet. The company’s achievements can’t help but make you wonder: are you asking enough of your manufacturers?
“In 2021, is it good enough for a product to be of the right aesthetic, the proper performance and at the right price? The answer is ‘no.’ As designers, we are aware that embodied carbon, or the carbon that is associated with the making of products, is responsible for 11% of greenhouse gas emissions. We know the ice caps are melting and too much carbon in the atmosphere is a primary cause. Public health is affected as well – not just for future generations but for today” said Chip DeGrace, Interface Director, Design Purpose. “The definition of ethical design is that our work must meet all traditional constraints and be carbon neutral or better – carbon negative. Designers and architects have the power to participate in reversing global warming in their own work by demanding carbon accountability as a constraint and expecting partners to do the same.”
We are optimists that believe there is always a better way. Our mission is to continue to be successful in the redesign of our company as a model for industry and inspiring others to do the same, proving that collectively we can reverse global warming.
– Chip DeGrace, Director, Design Purpose, Interface
Pioneers in the Commercial Flooring Industry
As leaders of more sustainable business practices in the commercial flooring industry, Interface is constantly exploring, innovating, testing and trying again to pioneer progress. They’ve created ways to work with recycled content and bio-based materials, leading the brand to introduce carpet tiles that store more carbon than their supply chain and manufacturing process emits. Historically carpet has been a petroleum-intensive industry, but Interface’s success in adopting more sustainable practices over the last 25 years shows it can be done. What began as working towards reducing the brand’s environmental impact in the early 90s has led to a bold sustainability goal that aims to become a carbon negative enterprise by 2040 with the mission of reversing global warming.
And it all started with a question from a customer: What’s your company doing for the environment?
Climate Take Back
When Interface Founder Ray C. Anderson didn’t have an answer to this question, he set off to find one. His quest led him to read Paul Hawken’s book The Ecology of Commerce – after which he committed to Interface becoming one the world’s first environmentally sustainable and restorative companies.
What Anderson’s philosophy evolved into is the company’s Climate Take Back mission. A total commitment to running Interface’s business in a way that creates a climate fit for life using four pillars: Live Zero, Love Carbon, Lead the Industrial Re-Revolution and Let Nature Cool. Live Zero simply means doing business in ways that give back what they’ve taken from the earth, while Love Carbon translates into their continued exploration of raw materials that use waste carbon or that sequester carbon to make Interface products. Environmental consequences of industrialization have been severe, and industry needs to be working with nature rather than against it. To that end, Lead the Industrial Re-Revolution creates new business models to drive positive change. Lastly, Let Nature Cool is just that. Our environment has the power to regulate the climate, but we’re interfering by polluting the air with excess carbon when we need to allow the Earth to cool.
Working toward Climate Take Back has been the brand’s focus ever since Anderson’s epiphany, from material sourcing to finished product. When sourcing a product, do you stop to think about its life cycle? Interface has worked to close the manufacturing loop to cut out harmful steps that may occur before the product is even made. How every step is carried out matters: raw material extraction, materials production, manufacturing, transportation, usage, disposal and recycling. When the time comes for Interface’s flooring to be removed, they’ll take back the used carpet tiles and recycle the materials as backing for future tiles through their ReEntry program. Closing the manufacturing loop removes the most impactful stages of the product life cycle, consistent with their Climate Take Back promise of helping to create a climate fit for life. They don’t just talk the talk, they walk the walk.
Interface’s entire flooring portfolio – including two of the company’s latest carpet tile products, Open Air and Embodied Beauty – build upon all of their principles, innovations and progress, while remaining true to their commitment to the environment. Designers and architects now have even more style options to choose from, including three products that are carbon negative when measured cradle to gate.
The Open Air Collection
Affordable, hard-working and designed with open space in mind, the Open Air carpet tile collection integrates effortlessly with Interface’s system of solutions. It is a display of innovation in both design and manufacturing, giving you the high-quality, high-performance carpet products you expect and deserve.
Designers and end users are often looking for versatile, affordable neutrals for open spaces. Open Air offers an expansive selection of flooring choices for this type of area, available in our top-selling neutral tones. With Open Air, designers can feel confident that they will find the best foundational look to elevate their space.
– Mindy O’Gara, Director of Product and Learning Experience, Interface
Timelessly modern and made with 100% recycled nylon, Open Air’s designs offer organic, geometric, linear and textured patterns options. The accompanying neutral palette includes varying degrees of color that give you the perfect foundation for the space you’re designing. The Open Air collection is a great fit for lobbies, offices, lounges and coworking spaces. Like the rest of Interface’s products, the collection is carbon neutral across its full life cycle through the company’s Carbon Neutral Floors program.
The Embodied Beauty Collection
The Embodied Beauty collection is the culmination of Interface’s years of manufacturing and design innovation. Led by Kari Pei, Interface’s Vice President of Global Product Design, the design team was inspired by the Japanese aesthetics of minimalism, restoration and the beauty of the natural world. DeGrace shared that “the team was further inspired by the practice of “sashiko,” a style of hand-stitching used to repair textiles or to create layers for added warmth in working garments as a schematic for the interconnectedness of the patterns on the floor in application.” The color palette is full of natural colors to build dimension throughout the carpet tile mosaic. The muted, subtle neutrals that make up the collection honor nature, historic textiles and precious raw materials.
Being inspired by nature doesn’t always result in something that looks like a leaf.
– Chip DeGrace, Director, Design Purpose, Interface
Developed to include carbon neutral and carbon negative styles, Embodied Beauty is the result of Interface designing and redesigning both the carpet tiles’ face fabric and their structural backings. Interface’s R&D team found inspiration in the way the Earth manages and processes carbon, storing it in trees, rocks and oceans. This, along with the design team’s work, translated into three unique styles – Shishu Stitch, Tokyo Texture, and Zen Stitch – that are Interface’s first-ever carbon negative products when measured cradle to gate. Created with a combination of the brand’s new CQuestBioX backing, specialty yarns and proprietary tufting processes, these carpet tiles store more carbon when measured cradle to gate than any before. Additionally, all seven styles within the Embodied Beauty collection are carbon neutral across their full product life cycle, as part of Interface®’s commitment to Climate Take Back.
Just as designers should expect more from manufacturers when it comes to sustainability, Interface continues to evolve by setting the bar for what designers should expect from manufacturers’ design services. The complimentary Interface Design Studio is at your disposal, made up of a team of designers who are available to help with simple as well as custom or abstract projects, at any stage of the process. Save time and gain new insight with their wealth of knowledge by experimenting with color, visualizing a space or even creating custom products. Interface® wants to ensure the flooring used in your project is just as you want it.
From start to finish, Interface is ready to help all of your design projects impress through their variety of flooring styles and intentional manufacturing. Feel good about your product choices, knowing they’ve been designed by a leader within the flooring industry and have years of development and sustainability efforts behind them. Interface stands high atop their steadfast principles as they continue their journey towards creating the greatest good for the planet. To learn more about their carpet tiles and other flooring products, visit interface.com.