Bringing together Australia's largest, long-standing carpet manufacturer – Godfrey Hirst – and the world’s biggest flooring company – Mohawk – GH Commercial has been fusing tradition, heritage and craft with innovation and global capability since 2018. Here, the company’s National Sales Manager, Joel Williamson, talks to us about GH Commercial’s commitment to biophilic principles in the design department – and why Lichen Community, a forest floor-inspired carpet product, fits so well with the shifting needs of a commercial workplace.
“Lichen Community is such a fantastic example of a biophilic concept. To design the product, we literally sent biologists into the field to study lichen blooms, and then we translated that into carpet using our custom Pattern Perfect® Technology,” Joel describes. “The original collection was a product that Mohawk put out around eight years ago, and it quickly became the most popular product globally in the Mohawk Group brand library. It also became the first flooring product to be certified as a Living Product, much in line with the Living Future Institute and Living Building Certifications.”
Mimicking lichen’s organic forms, the Lichen Community – which was originally created as a stone-look carpet surface – enables architects and designers to fade the blooms in and out, to zone out specific sections of the floor, creating spatial definition. But while the original concept was predominantly colour-driven, the latest iteration of the product leans into a warmer, more pared back palette, further augmenting the carpet’s biophilic properties.
“On top of the cooler stone shades, we wanted to introduce a warmer colour selection, as well as enhance the realism of the pattern by introducing some bark texture,” Joel explains. “We named the product ‘Lichen Community' partly because our commercial spaces have been used differently since the pandemic. We're seeing more of that ‘hotelisation’ of the workplace where you're booking rooms and you're using the office buildings as event space, which is then complimented by hybrid work which sees people working from home. The range has been designed specifically for that trend, and the name ‘community’ also reflects the fact that lichens are not singular organisms. It's about symbiosis between multiple organisms, and we think that that's reflective of the new era of the workplace and how we work with each other.”
Joel adds that from a design point of view, the company hopes that Lichen Community can help create adaptive buildings that bring the sense of neutral environment indoors – and this notion encapsulates both GH Commercial’s broader sustainability strategy as well as their commitment to biophilic design.
“We have really embraced biophilia from a design point of view,” Joel explains. “It’s an underlying aspect for most of our products. Fractals are another element we have been exploring, for example. They can influence our brains, and our eyes, and actually help alleviate stress. So taking the biophilic elements of fractals can help create products that are unique, that have very specific patterns, and – at the same time – are actually good for us.” He adds that creating products that are useful, and not just beautiful or recognisable, is the ultimate goal for GH Commercial.
“We want our products to help people feel like they're in a natural environment, they can be more productive and feel less stress,” he says, and this notion definitely ties in with the company’s guiding motto – ‘Believe in Better®’ – which underpins the company’s broader strategy, as well as sustainability ethos.
“When we say ‘believe in better’, we want to talk about being better for people – both for our customers, people who are using the product, but also for the people who handle it while it’s being manufactured in our factories. We want to ensure the product is made healthy for them,” he adds. “We also want to manufacture products that have more recycled content – and recycle well – and we are working on that journey. That goes hand in hand with performance, which is why our focus is on always finding ways that allow our products to perform better – and be used for longer. Ideally, the goal is to create products using less materials that can perform for longer, and are better for both people and planet,” Joel summarises. “It all ties together.”
If you’d like to find out more about GH Commercial’s sustainability journey, and hear more about their custom manufacturing technologies – like Pattern Perfect® – listen to the whole episode of the podcast here.