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 05-07 March 2019 / ExCeL, London

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10 Oct 2018

The Future of Interiors: Taking a human centred approach

Oliver Heath, Oliver Heath Design

I believe we should be taking a multi-scaled holistic approach to the built environment, recognising that as a nation of urbanites we spend 90% of our lives indoors. This means that cities, buildings and interiors all have an enormous effect on our mental and physical wellbeing – and this really is a new frontier to sustainability, one that must go hand in hand with a carbon centred approach. 

With this in mind, we need to consider the cultural, geographic and socio-economic situations that exist in cities and reflect this through good interior design. The aim of this is to create human centred spaces where we live and work that successfully deliver on their intended function. This human centred approach acknowledges that good design isn’t an extravagance but an essential component in the creation of successful buildings, by that we mean places where people feel happy, healthy, calm and relaxed.

There are some key trends emerging as part of this approach. Nature inspired design in all forms from biophilic design, bio-morphism and biomimicry is taking off. These elements can be incorporated on a number of levels from conceptual approaches, green walls and planters, to indirect references to nature found in natural materials, textures, patterns and products. Health and wellbeing standards are helping to drive this uptake, with the development of the likes of the WELL Building Standard™ promoting and certifying buildings that excel in this approach. 

When it comes to innovation there are a number of brands that are doing more. They have a real vision and are not simply reducing their footprint, but actively seeking a positive impact. Companies such as flooring manufacturer Interface now certify all their products to be carbon neutral throughout their lifecycle and are seeking ways to be carbon negative by 2040. On top of this their biomimetic approach to the design of their flooring products delivers wellbeing through strengthening occupants’ connections with nature.

I love the work companies such as Biotecture are doing through their verdant green walls, with the dual benefits of improving air quality and improving wellbeing. Then there are some fantastic UK designers really focussing on locally sourced materials and craftsmanship, such as furniture designers and manufacturers Sebastian Cox and Benchmark, and the biomorphic steam bent timber lights by Cornwall based Tom Raffield.

Events such as Futurebuild offer a fantastic opportunity to bring these approaches to Human Centred design together under one roof. I always step into Futurebuild with an enormous sense of anticipation, the excitement of finding new products, seeing familiar faces and acquiring knowledge. I’ll scour the aisles seeking out new materials, products and technologies, as this is the time and place when launches happen, so it makes the event a cutting-edge environment.

It is of course a delight to speak with manufacturers, suppliers and industry experts or the likes of the International WELL Building Institute and the BRE. So networking and meeting familiar faces are key aspects of my time spent at the show. And if I can tear myself away I’ll always try to make time to take in as many of the talks and seminars as I can, choosing which to attend is usually the hardest part. After Futurebuild, the team takes the chance to regroup and pool our experiences. This new information inspires knowledge and helps develops ideas, which inevitably leads to the specification of products and materials.

Find out more about exhibiting in the Interiors hub here.

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