Ethonomics: Human-centered & Biophillic Design

As mentioned in the January article, our partner Teknion released a paper called Ethonomics: Designing for the Principles of the Modern Workplace in 2015. As a leading international designer, manufacturer and marketer of innovative workplace interiors, the company explored how design can impact employee happiness and the question—What does well-being and productivity mean to today’s workforce?

As part of the Ethonomics formula for designing workplace happiness, significant attention is given to the topics of human-centered and biophilic design, the importance of creating rich sensory experiences and connections to the outdoors.

Human-centered design is about digging deeper into your understanding of who you are designing for, designing with a true empathy for the end users to create interiors that reflect social and cultural transformations. According to the Ethonomics paper, “The character of our surroundings provokes a visceral and an emotional response—whether from specific color combinations, the juxtaposition of materials or a mix of textures.” Designing interiors that connect with people more deeply on a sensorial level result in more meaningful and engaging spaces. Creating this more meaningful sensorial experience can be achieved through exploring more material applications. The paper suggests considering:

  • Stimulating and creating interest with dualities in textiles and materials
  • Bringing nature indoors with materials
  • Addressing sustainability and wellness concerns with textiles and materials
  • Exploring types of acoustical treatments with textiles
  • Creating deeper connections with the use of color

When it comes to deeper connections and sensorial experiences, human beings crave a relationship with nature. Biophilic design is the practice of building nature into the built environment, bringing the outside in or creating it inside to fulfill our innate need to connect with nature. According to the Ethonomics paper, “As human beings we are highly responsive to multi-sensorial experiences of nature—which are, in fact, profoundly important to human functioning, health and well-being.” It further states, “In order to thrive, people need access to daylight and a pleasant view, while spaces that contain natural elements or provide access to the outdoors can offer cognitive respite, stimulate creativity and improve work performance.”

Creating these deeper connections to nature can impact business in a profound way. Interface, a carpet manufacturer and pioneer in sustainability, helps power Human Spaces – – a website that provides a platform to explore and discuss biophilic design.

If you are interested in learning more Ethonomics and integrating human-centered and biophilic design principles into your workspace, contact 877-676-9346 . You can find information referenced in this article by visiting:—walkthrough-animation

In the summer issue, we will discuss the importance of Balance and Choice. Stay tuned!

Project Highlight: Delta Medical

As a leader in medical equipment sales and an Advanced Partner with Siemens Healthineers, Delta Medical brings the most advanced diagnostic imaging technologies to health facilities. To build on their solid industry reputation and continue to provide a desirable corporate culture with a low turnover rate, they wanted to update and energize their workplace.

As Delta Medical looked to create an updated office environment that supports health and well-being, they explored a variety of options from renovating their existing space to new construction. In the end, they purchased a building in the Pewaukee area that best suits their business needs.

The Schroeder Solutions team worked with Delta Medical to create a 6,000-sq.ft. office space with a fresh and contemporary appeal. The corporate logo provided color inspiration as the team looked to create the desired bright and happy interior. Canary, tangerine and aqua provide pops of vibrant color on workstation panel tiles, furniture upholstery and paint– fresh accents against the bright white backdrop. A variety of work zones were created to provide the needed balance between private and collaborative space. As a sales organization, the environment needs to support ongoing phone calls while creating a workspace that encourages more collaboration. In addition to a handful of private offices, the building includes a training room and cafe, a Think Tank meeting and conferencing space as well as ample warehousing. Access to natural light and height adjustable furniture were other important details that support employee health and well-being and elevate the workplace experience.

Community Service: Be the Spark Tours

Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce (MMAC) launched the “Be the Spark” Tour for the Milwaukee Public School District in 2014. The intent of the program was to show students the power of a college degree and the job opportunities an advanced education can provide. Seventh grade students from around the Milwaukee area have toured more than 46 local businesses since the program began. Schroeder Solutions had the privilege to host two schools, Angela McLaughlin’s class from Wedgewood Park International School and Kristine Esmond’s class from Audubon Technology and Communication Center Middle School.

Through an interactive presentation, our team shared project work with students and explained the education requirements necessary to qualify for various positions within the company. During these tours, students explored our office space, including the warehouse and loading docks, to get a feel for the capabilities of our company as well as our culture and work environment. Students spent time in our design library and retail space. They even tested some of the cool education furniture that we have within our office.

The Wedgewood Park International students were particularly inspired by the Schroeder Solutions’ design process. According to McLaughlin, “By opening your doors you allow my students to open their eyes to the abundance of possibilities. Your positive atmosphere and patience helped to keep them calm yet excited about learning. I have decided to have a contest with my students and have them redesign my classroom. Thank you for the inspiration and for investing your time in my students and showing them what great ideas can lead to.”



If you would like to learn more about the program, visit the MMAC website:

Trend Watch: Mid-century Modern


Mid-century modern design best describes architecture, furniture and graphic design from the middle of the twentieth century (1933-1965). It has been described by HGTV experts as the “largest modernist movement since the Industrial Revolution and post-World War I”. The phrase was coined by author Cara Greenberg in 1983 while writing her book “Metropolitan Home” that featured 1950’s furniture. She made up the phrase and it stuck! The trend started on the west coast and migrated itself across the country, but it remains a very prevalent design element in the west.


What is mid-century modern?

It is typically described as simple, sleek furniture with straight lines that create depth and length with interesting, subtle curvatures and pops of colorful decor. Mid-century modern brings in elements of the outdoors as well as natural light through large windows to create the feeling of a much larger outdoor space. The uses of interior walls that don’t reach the ceiling are also a prominent design element to help create that illusion of a large, unending space. Mid-century modern includes sculptural, biomorphic shapes and the use of industrial materials such as steel, brass, pane glass, fiberglass, resin and concrete.


Key Elements:

  • Flat Planes: geometric lines kept consistent all throughout the office to create a cohesive feel.
  • Large Windows: creating the illusion of a large outdoor environment in an indoor space.
  • Changes in Elevation: small steps going up and down to create a split level; partial walls and cabinets to create depth and space.
  • Integration with Nature: multiple outdoor views and access points, appreciation of healthy living, marrying the indoor and outdoor spaces to create warm environments.
  • Non-traditional Lighting: sleek, small light fixtures and bold, unique chandeliers.
  • 60-30-10 Rule: when it comes to colors; 60% dominant base color, 30% secondary color and 10% accent colors.


Design Team Interview:

  1. Where do you see Mid-century design showing up the most in office spaces?

Matthew Rosenquist: Throughout the last couple of years, the workplace has begun to make a shift into a more relaxed environment. Inspired by residential styles, like mid-century modern décor, furniture layouts, open concepts, clean lines, and subtle organic forms, the workplace trends are leaning towards this more comfortable, stylish, and less “corporate” environment. Furniture manufacturers have picked up on these trends and developed products that suit these types of environments. Teknion – Upstage is a good example of these shifts. Upstage offers open concepts, division of space through furniture or functional storage pieces (not panels), neutral and vibrant finish offerings, and subtle design details like the supporting wood Y-leg, all gearing toward a Mid-Century Modern inspired design.

Jamie Fink: Mid-century design seems to be a contrary approach to millennial-driven design in the workplace. Unlike the bright, sometimes overly youthful look and feel of millennial office spaces, mid-century design hails from an era that is described as modestly classy and elegant. It is showing up in offices that are both looking to modernize their look and feel while also holding on to timeless elements.

  1. What kinds of offices is mid-century modern showing up in more frequently?

Matthew: Most of these trends are being embraced by the younger generation of the work force. This design style, aesthetically pleasing furniture, collaborative break out spaces, comfortable and flexible work environments are all things that are luring the new generation. In turn, previous generations of the workforce are beginning to accept this style of work environment because of its appeal to the younger generations they hire.

Jamie: I believe that mid-century design is embraced both by those who recall it’s prominence from their childhoods and is equally gravitated towards by younger designers who simply admire it’s aesthetic.

  1. What makes mid-century modern design unique?

Matthew: Mid-Century modern is unique in a way that it mixes clean lines with organic form, it is a balance of minimalist and contrast, and has a interesting way of exemplifying the natural world through a modern eye.

Jamie: Uncomplicated lines, a timeless color palette and a look and feel that is easily integrated into most design settings.

  1. What is your favorite type of product from this design era?

Matthew: No favorites come to mind, but I love the craftsmanship and sophistication of the wood furniture from this era.

Jamie: It’s a love or hate feeling when it comes to the Eames Lounge chair and ottoman… I happen to fall in the love category.


If you want to read more about mid-century modern decor and furniture: