Fractals are the building block of many of nature’s patterns and have been scientifically proven to reduce stress and so provide benefits to physical health. This visual language is the basis for Relaxing Floors, an award-winning modular system designed by 13&9 in collaboration with Fractals Research and Mohawk Group. This collection is the culmination of art, science and human-centered design based on fractal patterns, which scientific research shows have stress-reductive qualities. Relaxing Floors utilizes fractals to give our eyes a break from the digital world and deliver the essence of nature to the contract built environment. The collection is now available for specification.
Today’s continuous exposure to technology impacts how we live, work and interact, and poses many challenges on physical and psychological levels. Based on their transdisciplinary approach to design, Martin and Anastasija Lesjak of 13&9 worked closely with Richard Taylor, founder of Fractals Research and professor of physics, psychology and art at the University of Oregon, to create the next generation of flooring solutions with Mohawk Group. The designers of Relaxing Floors look to holistic thinking in design and employ strategies that value people in their built environment.
The research that inspired the development of Relaxing Floors led to a whole new strategy of design, which the Lesjaks call human-centric design. “Human-centric design puts basic human needs at the center of design to help us navigate the complexity of our daily lives,” said Martin Lesjak, 13&9 co-founder and creative director.
Taylor was eager to apply his fractal research to develop a flooring that could help society after seeing how surgery patients recover more quickly if given a window looking out at nature (when a person looks at nature’s fractal pattern, the human body relaxes up to 60%). “The beautiful thing about fractals is you repeat a pattern at different size scales but that repetition generates an enormous amount of very rich and intricate structure. In fact, our eyes welcome that complexity,” said Taylor. “It is an amazing opportunity to have an impact on society because we spend $300 billion a year on stress-related illnesses.”
Two styles within the 12″ x 36″ carpet plank collection mimic the eye movements that take place as we view natural scenery. These movements are much like the flight paths of foraging birds. Software was developed for the team’s design process to create or “grow” a fractal pattern similar to that of a flying bird releasing seeds that will themselves grow into trees and plants. Using specific scientific parameters, the team grew mid-complexity fractals that correlate with stress reduction. Fractals with mid-range complexity, as measured on a parameter scale labeled D, are the most common in natural scenery. Relaxing Floors style mellowD utilizes a line-shaped seed which repeats at different magnifications, while style chillD employs a triangular segment-shaped seed.
The restD plank style builds on the University of Oregon’s studies of fractal-based electronics. These electronics have the capability to connect to the eye’s neurons with the potential to revolutionize the medical world. Under a microscope, these neurons look like miniature trees with fractal branches and glow red due to a fluorescent dye. This fractal form is the starting point of the design. The neuron formations are then transformed into outline patterns using the research on stress-reductive fractals to provide a literal translation. Completing the Relaxing Floors collection is Fractal Ground, which offers a coordinating organic groundcover visual in a 12″ x 36″ plank format.
“Comprehending the science behind biophilic design is part of our commitment to diving deeper into understanding how we create environments for decompressing and getting away from the overload of technology that we live with every day,” said Jackie Dettmar, vice president of design and product development at Mohawk Group. “Bringing together our transdisciplinary team to create Relaxing Floors has been such a dynamic and amazing experience. In fact, the outcome is like nothing we’ve ever produced before; this project is going to have a groundbreaking impact on the built environment.”
Relaxing Floors is manufactured using Mohawk Group’s Duracolor Tricor solution-dyed nylon fiber and EcoFlex NXT tile backing. Duracolor Tricor utilizes a groundbreaking modified triangular-shaped core to deliver unsurpassed stain resistance, colorfastness, durability, color clarity and enhanced soil performance. The collection’s four styles are manufactured at Mohawk Group’s Glasgow, Virginia carpet tile plant, the company’s “Living Site” facility, to achieve stringent Living Product Challenge Petal Certification. As a Living Product collection, Relaxing Floors has a net positive impact for people and the environment through innovations in materials, manufacturing and community involvement initiatives.
Relaxing Floors was honored at NeoCon 2019 with the Interior Design HiP Product award in workplace flooring: carpet and a BUILDINGS Product Innovations merit award in flooring. Relaxing Floors has also been recognized with a Metropolis Likes at NYCxDESIGN award and as a flooring: contract honoree in the Interior Design NYCxDESIGN awards program.
Click here to learn more about Relaxing Floors and Mohawk Group’s approach to stress-reductive flooring design for contract interiors.