Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category

THE POWER OF COLLABORATION

Thursday, July 28th, 2011

 

With a few simple ground rules, collaboration between designers and other professionals can produce remarkable results.

If there is one word that clearly defines the future of the interiors profession, it might be “collaboration.” Boundaries that once compartmentalized all design professionals in neat boxes of disciplines are being systematically erased by technology, integration and globalization. 

With ever-increasing complexities in design projects and higher performance expectations from owners and clients, the future is clear: No man or woman can be an island in the design profession. Most designers will acknowledge that acting together in teams can increase the success of problem solving, whether by reducing project costs or increasing building efficiencies. But collaboration is the next rung up the ladder, and such deeper thinking can give birth to unique approaches and concepts.

Collaboration is much more than the intersection of shared goals and objectives. If approached with mutual intent, it can be a process that creates a communal mind, bringing a group together to develop solutions in spite of diverse points of view, ranges of professional experiences and the promotion of individual advocacies. At the highest levels of the collaborative process, design teams may even consider untested possibilities that foster unexpected, innovative and novel outcomes.

Achieving a high level of successful collaboration requires a few key steps, and it starts with a clear agenda and an articulation of the desired outcomes. Taking the time to fully define client criteria, outline the project requirements and assess any circumstances is essential to achieving objectives. But avoid being too prescriptive in the first conversations with the team so participants feel open to freely contribute.

In his book, Collaboration, Morten T. Hansen, a management professor at the UC Berkley School of Information, expresses the importance of determining what is ultimately desired in the collaborative process, writing, “In their eagerness to get people to tear down silos and work in cross-unit teams, leaders often forget that the goal of collaboration is not collaboration itself, but results.”

The makeup of the team is also vital to achieving success at higher levels. The more difficult or complex the design problem, the more diverse in skills, expertise and disciplines the team should be. Having a facilitator with authority can also get the team focused on desired outcomes and keep everyone from getting bogged down in trying to solve every small detail. Leave the minute detailing to others or consider tasking small breakout groups with solving one part or component.

Whether the collaboration is in person with the use of white board and markers or as a virtual group over the Internet, there needs to be a high level of trust. Nothing will deter collaboration more than a lack of trust and accountability, so it is important to establish an atmosphere of goodwill, honesty and transparency.

Another step to creating successful collaborative outcomes is to agree in advance what the primary decision-making process will be. Will it be by majority, unanimous, recommendations that are then delegated to others or by group consensus? And what should occur when the team reaches an impasse? Establishing rules will be easier if all agree up front how roadblocks are to be handled.

If there is a deadline for certain important or critical decisions, make sure that it is near the top of the agenda. Have ample and sufficient time set aside to allow everyone to contribute their concepts freely and openly. The vetting of collaborative ideas permits a concept to grow and evolve into appropriate solutions, so be realistic about the amount of time and effort that may be needed.

Finally, ensure there is a methodology for evaluating the collaborative process. This helps the participants to know how well they did, whether some or all of the strategies will be implemented and who is to be responsible for the implementation.

Andrew Carnegie defined collaboration exceedingly well when he said, “Teamwork is the ability to work together toward a common vision; the ability to direct individual accomplishment toward organizational objectives. It is the fuel that allows uncommon results.”

The collaborative design process can be used for projects of varying shapes and sizes. It can even be applied to address social and environmental challenges. Imagine the opportunity to collaborate with interdisciplinary groups to raise the quality of lives around the planet. Whether designing affordable housing, creating retreats for at-risk youths or working with the disadvantaged to ensure safe, secure environments, the process of collaborative design can lead to solutions to such complex global problems. Remarkable things can and do happen when we collaborate.

Source:  Interiors and Sources – April 2011

LET THERE BE (DAY) LIGHT

Thursday, April 21st, 2011

Proper daylight harvesting can reduce the need for electrically-supplied lighting during daytime periods 

 Many design professionals have adopted daylight integration strategies within existing buildings and new construction projects, thanks to the acceptance in recent years of sustainable building principles and the recognized benefits to occupants.

Design teams are now creating and retrofitting facilities that effectively introduce daylight where the occupants need it most. But while bringing more natural light in is encouraging, there is such a thing as too much daylight, and the best way to achieve daylight integration is through a balanced approach.

 A Balanced Approach
You can introduce natural daylight into a building through a variety of means—each with its own strengths and weaknesses. The most common daylight delivery strategies include side-lighting (vertical glazing), top-lighting (skylights, roof monitors and tubular daylight delivery systems) and directional daylight systems (prismatic or sunlight concentrating systems). Developing a balanced day lighting design will most likely include more than one (or all) of these common delivery strategies.

 Balanced daylight design is a selective and methodical approach that delivers more light consistently throughout a space with lower lighting level fluctuations during the day and the seasons. Good daylight design can achieve lighting power reduction from 30 to 65 percent. To know which strategies will best serve your project, examine how well your space has access to unobstructed exposure to the sky. While daylight levels change constantly, the sky—excluding direct exposure to the sun—provides the most consistent indirect daylight, which is easier to design for.

Gain a better understanding of how daylight may be introduced within your project by performing an assessment of the surrounding built environment. Study how the sun moves across the sky during the day. Evaluate seasonal weather and local climate patterns (cloudiness in winter, etc.). If your region is cloudy a majority of the time, your space will receive a lower amount of overall daylight, so your strategies may need to be more aggressive.

 Surface Finishes
Daylight quality is a direct product of how light is reflected off surfaces. That’s why both interior and exterior surfaces play such a big role in how we interpret if a space is well-lit. Surface color and texture greatly influence how light is distributed throughout a space. Higher reflective surfaces reflect light so the space appears brighter, while darker surfaces absorb more light and may make a space seem poorly lit.

 Strategically locate higher reflective surfaces within a room to best enhance daylight distribution. For example, vertical surfaces adjacent to a window typically should be lighter in color so the eye is capable of adjusting between the lighting levels coming through the window and other surfaces. Typically the first 15 feet of the wall surfaces perpendicular to the side lighting or top lighting glazing surface should be light colored. Be mindful that lighter colored flooring or polished surfaces, such as marble, may cause unwanted glare problems due to the mirror-like surface. Try to find wall finishes with reflectance values of 55 percent or higher. Keep in mind that wood surfaces, even ash and pine, will have reflectance below 50 percent and will get darker as the wood patinas over time.

 HVAC Systems
Proper daylight harvesting can reduce the need for electrically-supplied lighting during daytime periods, which will also reduce a space’s cooling demand. However, you need to select the right strategy to realize those interactive savings. For instance, a new skylight may bring in more light, but if the location and size are not chosen properly the skylight may be a source of unwanted heat gain in summer and heat loss in winter. Factor in all of the effects your daylight strategy will have on the performance of the space’s HVAC system when determining the overall savings of that strategy. In existing facilities, the introduction of additional day lighting strategies may put unwanted burdens on existing HVAC systems, causing higher energy and maintenance costs.

 When installing a daylight system, consider how the strategy can satisfy multiple purposes and positively influence building performance. Leverage your client’s capital investment so that the daylight system will also accomplish another energy or comfort-related measure. One example is to design the skylight or roof monitor with operable windows to encourage passive exhausting and/or the introduction of natural ventilation.

 Daylight Controls
Allowing daylight into your building is just one part of the solution. Another aspect is controlling and managing the daylight so it doesn’t cause glare or visual discomfort. You can incorporate fixed controls, such as an exterior shading device or an interior lighting shelf, to shade unwanted direct sunlight penetration from entering through vertical glazed fenestrations. Other controls, like retractable blinds and shade clothes, electro-chromatic glazing, etc., can be activated automatically or through occupant input. Due to human nature, however, occupants that lower shades or close blinds to block out glare often forget to raise them again, which essentially undermines your daylight strategy and negates any electrical lighting savings.

 Effective day lighting can enhance a building’s spatial qualities, reduce the load on electrically-supplied lighting and provide significant occupant benefits, such as increased productivity, better employee retention and increased retail sales. As you retrofit your next project or are designing a new one, seek out opportunities to incorporate daylight and gain the benefits in energy reduction and occupant satisfaction

 By Eric McDaniel

Eric McDaniel, Associate AIA, LEED AP, is a technical consultant at Green Building Services Inc

KNOLL REFF PROFILES & AUTOSTRADA AWARDED LEVEL 3 BIFMA CERTIFICATION

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2011

 October 19, 2010 — Knoll, Inc. (NYSE: KNL) today announced that the Company’s Reff Profiles™ and AustoStrada™ furniture for open plan workspaces and private offices have achieved BIFMA level™ 3 certification from Scientific Certification Systems (SCS). level™ 3 is the highest rating that a product can achieve under the Business and Institutional Furniture Manufacturer’s Association’s (BIFMA) furniture sustainability standard. Reff Profiles and AutoStrada are also GREENGUARD Indoor Air Quality Certified®.Designed by Brian Graham, Reff Profiles™ is a functional and aesthetic evolution of the popular Reff System, which is known for its breadth of easily reconfigured open and private office solutions and wood excellence. Reff Profiles extends this heritage with a more progressive, efficient architectural presence. Conceived with the private office in mind, Reff Profiles underscores the longstanding Reff benefits of refined wood detailing, planning flexibility and breadth of options. Reff Profiles, introduced at NeoCon 2010, is available for order entry.AutoStrada epitomizes modern architectural thinking, offering a distinct, singular aesthetic for collaborative, open plan and private office applications. Manufactured using clean technology, including water-based adhesives, powder coating on metal, powder coating on wood and UV-cured wood coating, all of which are virtually VOC-free, AutoStrada is available in FSC-certified composite wood, GREENGUARD Certified, and can help meet the U.S. Green Building Council LEED® requirements.

BIFMA has established level™ as a common framework against which to evaluate the environmental and social responsibility of a variety of products. level™ is part of BIFMA’s ongoing development of voluntary product and industry standards that support safe, healthy and sustainable workplaces. To achieve level™ certification, Knoll partners with Scientific Certification Systems (SCS), known for its integrity and scientific rigor.

In the BIFMA level certification process, a product, the organization and facilities that produced it are scored according to sustainability criteria in four areas: Materials; Energy and Atmosphere; Human and Ecosystem Health; and Social Responsibility.

“Knoll continues to take leadership steps toward sustainability,” said Stowe Hartridge-Beam, level program manager at Scientific Certification Systems. “Once again, Knoll’s level 3 certification reflects their achievements in waste and greenhouse gas emissions reduction, human and ecosystem health, and social responsibility.”

Antenna Workspaces™, Generation by Knoll® and Dividends Horizon® have previously achieved level™ 3 BIFMA Certification from the Scientific Certification Systems.

“Level certification highlights our long-standing commitment to third-party programs that provide independent verification of environmental standards. The BIFMA sustainability program reinforces our efforts to pioneer clean manufacturing policies that protect the biosphere and conserve natural resources,” said Lou Newett, Knoll Health and Safety Manager, who leads the Company’s environmental sustainability efforts.

Knoll focuses on three key environmental areas: climate change, third party certification and environmentally-friendly products and manufacturing processes. The Company has also certified products under the SMaRT© Consensus Sustainable Product Standard, achieving SMaRT certification for Generation by Knoll (Platinum); Life (Gold); Chadwick (Gold); Calibre (Gold); Moment (Gold); and Template (Gold). In addition, Knoll recently established FSC® (Forest Stewardship Council) certified wood as the standard for general open plan office systems, casegoods and tables, recognizing that sustainable wood harvesting can contribute to reversing environmental and social trends. (FSC is the international standard setting body for defining and measuring a well managed forest and providing traceability through chain-of-custody certification.)

Knoll operates 10 LEED® certified showrooms in North America, including its Platinum certified facility in Toronto. The Knoll East Greenville, PA Lubin manufacturing facility is LEED Gold certified under the Existing Building pilot program; it is also an OSHA VPP Star site.

VITRA’S AC 4 OFFICE CHAIR WINS EUROPE’S PRESTIGOUS 2009 RED DOT AWARD

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2011

Elegant object of function

  

It is very close to people. For months and even years, people working in offices sit on it: the office chair. Which model a user chooses for this daily relationship tells a lot about that person’s individual sense of style, yet ergonomics also play a role, as much as trends in form and colour schemes. The AC 4 office swivel chair – which was created by Antonio Citterio, a designer who is known above all for objective and elegant concepts – features a design that is the outcome of a very clear attitude: instead of developing its form in a one-dimensional approach only via the primacy of comfort or its functional characteristics, this office chair aims to merge both parameters into a highly self-sufficient design. The AC 4 integrates its ergonomic features discreetly and the benefits of its comfort unlock themselves only in their functional context. Thus the details of the sophisticatedly designed backrest, for example, at first remain invisible to the user. The backrest is actually divided into three sections with distinct internal functions: above the rigid lumbar support zone begins the flexible zone with cushioned chambers that distribute pressure evenly across the upper back, followed by a support zone for the shoulders. This innovative technical feature, however, is neither put on display, nor is it hidden beneath foam padding. Rather, it presents itself self-evidently to the user – details such as aluminium loop armrests or variably adjustable 3D armrests accentuate this visual appearance. The design of the AC 4 resulted in an object of elegant looks and user-centred functionality – an emblem of understated comfort.