Workplace wellbeing has had a great influence on office interior design over recent years and now, thanks to the rise of the sustainable office movement, the health of the planet is becoming just as important as the health of employees in commercial fitout.
Taking its roots from biophilic design (love of plants and nature, excuse the pun), interior designers are taking influence from the natural world, taking care to preserve it in the process. From plants and greenery to natural light, fresh air and sustainable materials, the wellness of people and our environment are converging into some exciting, eco-friendly office designs.
Recycled office furniture
Office furniture manufacturers and interior architects are leading the way with innovative ideas that make use of recycled materials and repurposed furnishings in a move towards more sustainable fitout.
Take office furnishing designers Humanscale and Interface, for example, who have both utilised discarded fishing nets to create ergonomic chairs and flooring. Joining them in the recycling revolution is Alexander Schul, the award-winning furniture designer who has created chairs and lamps by recycling plastic bags. Smile Plastics and Dutch designers, Plasticiet, have also made Terrazzo-style panels for interiors and furniture from waste products and recycled plastic.
For the purists who believe conventional plastic should be avoided altogether, we’ve seen algae and bio plastics increasingly used as an alternative, whilst UrbnRok create eco-work-surfaces from recycled glass.
Circular economy in office fit-out
Our own office fitout team are passionate about reusing materials and furniture where possible. An easily replicable project that demonstrates just how beautiful reclaimed products can be is the office refurbishment we designed for the London Waste and Recycling Board (LWARB).
As an organisation dedicated to reducing waste and improving resource management in London, it made sense to reflect those values throughout the interiors of their office.
LWARB were committed to putting the principles of circular economy into action (reusing materials where possible, for as long as possible). Normally, in an office refurbishment, many of the existing fittings and furnishings are removed and replaced with new (regardless of their condition) but in this case, we wanted to retain and repurpose everything wherever possible.
Reuse and reclaim
We kept their air-conditioning units, lighting, blinds, network cabling, floor boxes and carpet tiles and reused all of the kitchen units, sinks and taps. We used recycled materials and products for anything that could no longer be used. We sourced beautiful reclaimed oak flooring from the Royal College of Surgeons to keep transportation and emissions low (as they were located close to the office) and used Ecor as a sustainable alternative to plasterboard.
The reduction in waste wasn’t the only benefit. The time to fit-out the new office was fast (just 4 weeks) and the cost of the project was low – as was the toxicity of materials used, which helps to improve the wellbeing of employees.
If you would like to know more about how to create a sustainable, recycled office refurbishment, please contact our interiors team at Action Workspace.