25 March 2019

We are living in an era that demands our constant attention. In our digital age, we have never been more connected — nor have demands on our time been greater. It is a moment of continually increasing acceleration. We are permanently overextended.

We crave stillness, softness, breath.

We seek out people, places, and things that keep us balanced. We long for physical spaces that provide comfort, authenticity, warmth, inspiration. We recognize that the quality of our space has an impact on everything, from health to productivity, creativity to collaboration.

© Harriet Lee-Merrion

With this in mind, we spoke to leaders in business, education, and culture on designing spaces with our humanity at their core — softer spaces. These are flexible spaces that support our needs intuitively. They contain materials and forms that feel good. They are environments that bring us together.

From our earliest days, this softer approach to living, learning, and working has framed everything we do.
Our families of products are manifestations of essential human values — connection, sensitivity, comfort and ease. We design for a world that unites us in our humanity. Together, softer.

ITo Exchange

© José Hevia

Banks present a duality.
They are both the institutions that we transact with on a daily basis for the more mundane tasks of life, and they are a network of resources and tools that enable individuals to achieve life’s major milestones: nancing a new home, launching a business, or saving for a child’s education.

© Jan Vranovský

Whether you’re there as part of your daily routine or as part of a life-de ning moment, creating a supportive, calming atmosphere inside these institutions can have tangible effects on mood, emotions, and con dence.

© Christian Columbres

IITo Care

Hospitals and spaces of healing must attend to the vital needs of three very different populations. Patients receiving treatment seek out dignity, ease, and humanity in the face of their vulnerability.

© Adam Mørk; © Valerie Clarysse

Visitors need spaces for communion, celebration, grief, quiet, and community. And medical practitioners require spaces that allow for agility, dexterity, respite, and the highest standards of technological advancement.

© Valerie Clarysse

As the lines between technology, lightness, and comfort become increasingly compounded, these complex spaces can benefit from a softer approach—one that always prioritizes humanity, in the face of any adversity.

© Valerie Clarysse

IIITo Discover

The learning spaces we inhabit are instrumental to the education outcomes.
With more opportunity for teaching and learning modalities today than ever before —lectures, small group discussions, or quiet, sustained independent work—it is possible to tailor classrooms and learning spaces to suit the needs of the individual.

© Nic Lehoux

Functionally, this means that our learning spaces must be modular and dynamic. However, these spaces must also meet the emotional needs of students—spaces that are supportive and inspiring, materially and visually intriguing, comfortable and connective.

© DePasquale + Maffini

IVTo Share

Values in our workspaces have shifted. Fluidity, balance, and inclusion have replaced workplace monoculture.

© Bilyana Dimitrova

Spaces today must be created to support the vicissitudes of daily work-life. Modular spaces that can accommodate one or many.

© Salva Lopez

Flexible spaces that can transition from focused work to evening events. Quiet, closed spaces for work calls and private conversations, and open spaces for the social life of the community.

© Salva Lopez

These myriad transitions call for spaces with a softer touch—easy, intuitive, collaborative, warm, and inspiring.

© Billy Bolton

VTo Relax

We have developed a need for a third space.

© Melinda Cartmer

Between outside and event, between entrance and destination, an in-between space has emerged. Hotel lobbies, salons, meeting points, lounges.

© Melinda Cartmer

In the digital age, these in-between spaces have become more than waiting areas, they are sites for impromptu work, a brief phone call, a coffee with a friend, rest between travel, a drink after work, a break.

© Carlo Baroni

As comfortable as your living room, these softer spaces are designed to support relaxation and ease as you live out your daily needs—work, social life, and everywhere in between.

© Alan Schindler

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