April 11, 2018

Interface Takes Design Notes From the Hardworking Honeybee

What is so mesmerizing about the hexagonal shape of the honeycomb? Humans have been examining these feats of organic architecture as early as 36 B.C., when Roman scholar Varro posited his “Honeybee Conjecture”—a mathematical guess that the perimeter of the hexagon would take up less space, allowing multiple bees to create cells simultaneously with as little wax as possible. He couldn’t prove it at the time, but he was vindicated in 1999 by mathematician Thomas Hales.

What these thinkers proved is something that any observer of a bee colony could figure out: the honeycomb is a masterpiece of natural engineering. Without the benefit of the human brain or design thinking, bees create functional spaces that are practical, sustainable, and beautiful. Designers are starting to replicate nature’s innovations through biomimicry, recognizing that organic systems can solve manmade problems, as well.

Interface’s Honey Do, Honey Don’t, and Bee Knee’s i2 flooring system in Pewster and Dew. Photography courtesy of Interface. 

Interface brought the idea of biomimicry to the forefront of sustainable product design with its i2® modular systemWhat started in 2000 with the introduction of a style called Entropy® has grown into a company-wide fascination with the flexibility and efficiency that biomimicry can lend to flooring.

Featuring designs inspired by the beauty of nature, Interface’s i2® system is expanding with Let It Bee™, which was designed by Kari Pei and draws its inspiration from the honeybee’s impressive works of architecture. 

“The hexagon often shows up in nature as a basic building block in forms like honeycombs, and its magical beauty has been universally favored across cultures for centuries,” says Mindy O’Gara, Interface’s director of product styling. “This shape makes Let It Bee so unique because it’s like an algorithm for the floor—solving for scale, shape, form, pattern, variety, movement, texture, and color, all in one.”

Interface’s Honey Don’t and Bee Knee’s i2 flooring system in Dark Ocean. Photography courtesy of Interface. 

The floor covering features three styles in a united color palette comprised of warm and cool neutrals and vibrant colors. The Honey Do™ and Honey Don’t™ varieties contain hexagons in both small-scale and large-scale sizes, a combination that creates a dynamic tessellating pattern. Bee Knee’s™ offers a raised detail that catches the light and brings visual drama to a space.

 “Nature is constantly speaking words of wisdom and showing us solutions through its own remarkable designs,” says O’Gara. With less attic stock, selective replacement of tiles, and the significant reduction of installation waste with nondirectional styles, the i2 system honors the natural world in design and mission.

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