Known for their smart thermostats globally, they started out here in Toronto with the dream of creating smart, healthy and more sustainable home environments. And they have become a world leader in doing just that. We share a common ethos with Ecobee and so when they invited me to be interviewed I was truly thrilled. Our mission of creating healthy and happy homes with our modernhygge™ program always includes consideration of new smart technology and innovation as we are striving for net zero emissions and sustainable living. Ecobee checks all the boxes for me with inherent Danish design principles of Function, Simplicity and Beauty. Our clients have been consistently impressed and I’m looking forward to more as they continue to develop and extend their technology product suite from thermostats to home monitoring and beyond in holistic support of truly smart living.
Check out the Ecobee blog to get my 7 easy steps and introduce yourself to a Toronto based global leader!
It is with great excitement that I’m posting today news of my book to be released later this year: “Take Your Space”. Below is an excerpt from my foreword and provides some insight into the reason that I feel it’s important to publish a book on the foundational and driving forces of my design philosophy.
From my ‘Forward’ in Take Your Space:
Through the years it has become ever so clear to me how important it is for myself and others that we thrive in our physical environments. Certainly in our homes, but also and just as certainly when we go to school, to work or while visiting others. As humans our sense of being is influenced deeply by the physical environment surrounding us – for example when a room can feel light and friendly or bring us to feel more comfortable and relaxed. When that happens, it is not just our sense of aesthetics that is triggered but our entire nervous system that reacts unconsciously to produce these physical and emotional reactions. We feel at home because of the colours, smells, shapesand light our eyes see and what we sense around us. We feel better when surrounded by or have access to natural environments – just as we absorb and are influenced by other people in the room and their vibe. The way that we influence energy between us and within a room is a wonderfully inexplicable but powerful connection that psychologists, and science generally, have great difficulty explaining.
Space is so much more than an investment in the right furniture, painting the walls with (subjectively) soft, beautiful or trendy colour, displays of renowned artwork or sharing a space with close friends or family. Creating space is complex and also requires consideration of intangibles like vibe, energy and atmosphere.
Psychologically, having our own ‘space’ is a particularly important component in our ability to live authentically and develop ourselves personally or professionally. Space is at once a physical, emotional and a mental environment.
Despite how obvious it is and our recognition of the power of energy in a room it is only very seldom, if at all, that we indulge in a conscious effort to understand it. In the fifteen years that I have spent working with people and physical space design I’ve observed so often that people, while quick to buy new clothes or make changes in other factors of their lives or organizations, neglect consideration of the unlocked value of their physical environments when they feel challenged or have difficulty thriving in life or work. The problem is often that it is so very difficult to recognize and identify exactly what is wrong and even if we have some success identifying issues in our physical environment we cannot answer the question of what to do about it. I’m here to challenge the neglect.
This book is not an interior design book filled with inspirational photos, artwork and other ‘design’ elements for you to meander through and select pieces or ideas that might be installed or copied into your own home or office. It is a book that attempts to create a mindset and philosophy for how we as modern humans design and furnish ourselves with space that sets us up to thrive physically, mentally and emotionally. It considers our central being, our energy, our need for personal space and especially our interaction with others.
And no, the world is not currently in need of another book of feng shui or interior design filled with furnishings, fixtures, the latest trends in art and design or a DIY guide to renovation or interior at home. A quick search on Amazon, cable TV or streaming channels will provide something for everyone’s taste. My attempt here is to help with something more foundational, less subjective and very practical.
Some of the inspiration for my holistic approach to design is a natural extension of how we in the west have engaged and successfully integrated yoga and similar, previously labelled alternative, wellness and human-centered trends to improve life and work. Equally important, my Scandinavian background has an appropriately strong inspirational focus. The merging of these two foundational inspirations became first and at once obvious to me only when I made the move to Canada and recognized what, at the time, were extreme gaps in focus on wellness in the workplace. This was when I realized that my own home and background and it’s long history and tradition for architecture and design along with workplace culture and work-life balance, while natural and existential design components for me, were in fact unrecognized in much of North American culture. Below the well known Scandinavian design values of simple, beautiful and functional, lies a foundational and integral perception of people as free, independent and principally highly social beings.
Recently, the word “hygge” has caught many headlines in North America and throughout the world outside of Denmark and with good reason as the word attempts to describe the epiphany of the moment(s) when the energy between people is at its peak. This word along with other important Danish and Scandinavian cultural concepts we will as well visit in depth within these pages as they form much of the inspiration behind my holistic approach and practical recommendations.
Fifteen years ago, I began to write my first book on architecture and space design. It was based on a Scandinavian interpretation and modernization of Feng Shui (“Neo-Feng-Shui”) and remains in my drawer. The science remains in my toolbox for design with its grounding in balance between materials, colours, light. But having now worked so many years with schools, institutions, homes, leased office spaces in downtown towers and rebuilt industrial buildings I have collaborated with what I term ‘modern leaders’ that have helped me develop a human-centred integration of formerly alternative eastern design philosophies and my native Scandinavian focus on wellness and modern, simple and functional space. The deciding difference in “Take Your Space” is to disregard subjective design principles, trends and taste perceptions that determine human experience, and to put the human experience and our ability to thrive and function at the centre of our approach and make our worlds go round.
I came across that american classic film Field of Dreams from 1989 (“If you build it he will come”) the other day. As a business strategy, I would suggest that the approach is seriously flawed. But I’ve been spending a lot of time in my kitchen lately and when it comes to kitchens the approach may be just the ticket.
In the sense that you (and those that you live with) are well… already home and so the risks of whether or not ‘he/she/they will come’ are pretty negligible and especially in our mid-pandemic state, the kitchen is in focus.
In our Danish approach to design and architecture we focus on the core attributes associated with that approach (Simple, Smart Function, Beautiful) and with kitchens FUNCTION takes the front seat as it needs to be the most functional room in a home. But if you’re like me I tend to envision the kitchen also as a social hub bringing family and friends together, albeit within pandemic guidelines these days, while exploring and sharing food and drinks. That’s where the ‘hygge’ kicks in :).
In that way, and like many things in our homes, if our kitchen does not function well or it is complicated to navigate or rather than inspiring us it feels drab or creates frustration then we are far more likely to look forward to our favourite restaurant or take out experience and it reinforces the feeling that we are not really cut out for cooking or baking.
Given these last months of challenge and where we have all been doing our best to look after each other by staying away from each other, the kitchen has for some been the saving grace in finding a reinvigorated and comforting place in a world that has been turned upside down. For others though the kitchen remains a source of frustration and reinforcement of a disbelief in one’s ability to create anything edible let alone delicious at home. For those in the ‘frustrated’ category, we tend to believe the road to upending that frustration is to start not with new recipes but with a “Field of Dreams” making sure your kitchen is both super functional and also makes you feel inspired to cook.
So we offer this adaptation of Kevin Costner’s mysterious whisperer in the corn fields of Iowa…
“If you build your kitchen to function simply and efficiently and then make it beautiful and surround yourself with things that inspire you along with a candle or two and some family or friends… you will cook something wonderful!”
We are introducing our ‘concept’ program we’ve named modernhygge™ and rather than write a story (blog) about it we’ve made a video (vlog) for you instead. If a picture says a thousand words, I hope the video does even better…
While we’ve been active in the residential architecture/design world for many years, it’s something that had always been overshadowed (at least in our marketing and mindset) by our commercial efforts… that is until a global pandemic turns the world upside down. For us here at mettespace one of the silver linings of this pandemic is that we’ve finally had time to put the finishing touches on our residential homes program while completing our latest residential project and we couldn’t be more delighted with the results.
Zoning, Architecture, Interior Design, Renovation/Build. This project had it all in spades along with the typical challenges of an urban Toronto neighbourhood long and narrow property!
As we embrace working from home for the long term, we decided to attempt to help those that are challenged or struggling to find enough space at home. If you are struggling try this simple to follow 7-step formula to integrate WFH into your tight space!
There are many things to factor in to maintaining mental, physical and emotional health when working from home on a more regular and long term basis. And it can be difficult. We hope this short video will help you get started in thinking it through to make the most of the space you do have available.
This is a partial re-post of a campaign we had initiated pre-COVID but as many of us recognize and accept that working from home or remotely will be an ongoing and longer term part of our work life reality, we thought it would be a good time to remind everyone to at least do the easy/simple things to stay healthy and look after your emotional, physical and mental health.
As expected, we are starting to encounter some WFH burnout. This is a natural consequence of human nature when confronted with ongoing isolation and the difficulty in separating work from life and vice-versa over the longer term. Given we, in the Great White North, are headed indoors again for some months to come it’s really important that we all keep the dialogue going regarding health at home.
These are the ‘top of the list’ things to think about not only when setting up your work from home environment, but habits to get into while continuing to work remotely. Don’t be lured into underestimating the challenge. To be successful working remotely, we recommend the following as a minimum. If you are already doing all of these things and still feeling like WFH has turned into an insufferable and overwhelming challenge then it’s time to reach out to your employer for help.
Or, and as always, if you have any questions or would like to share your experience in WFH please just contact us by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d love to hear from you and offer our thoughts regarding any specifics that you are dealing with . Happy workday!
Most of us in Ontario are familiar with the LCBO campaign justifying clear identification in determining age when buying liquor… but what about Organizational Identity!?
Organizational identity, even when well defined, seems a little trickier in that it is something true and organic for sure but it is not as absolute or undeniably decided by a birth certificate or driver’s license. In the pre-pandemic world we spent a lot of time with organizations in helping them define their identity so that the workspaces that we designed and built would inspire all that enter to understand, embrace and get excited about that identity.
Often as we explored this with our clients it felt, to begin with, like something rather abstract and too easily regarded as a branding exercise in exposure to a market. But while organizational identity is often closely tied to brand, it’s in fact deeper and more about how the organization sees itself. The most commonly referenced definition of organizational identity is that describing it as those central, enduring and distinctive characteristics (“CED”, Albert & Whetten 1985) that, like our birth certificates, identify a unique entity. As an organization, it answers the question “Who are we?”. And these days, we thought it would be a topic most leadership groups and individuals might be struggling with quite naturally with physically distributed workforces.
Organizational Identity is important. It’s about character, personality and values and it is a foundational driver of culture. Organizational culture I heard described wonderfully just recently (briefly paraphrased here) as the behaviour that leads to decision making (Hilton Barbour, LinkedIN) and in organizations as in life, we need to be true to thyself. The anchor of good culture is a tangible, strong and clear identity that makes it easy to recognize when an organization might be acting ‘out of character’. A strong identity makes decision making much easier.
The thing about organizations is that they are made up of multiple human beings and while there are of course lots of ways to express identity, one of the primary ways is with visual queues in a workspace. So how do we establish, develop and sustain a strong identity when we’re spread out physically all over the map and we are far less connected naturally to an identity that was previously realized mostly through sharing organic social and collaborative time together? It seems that organizational identity might be getting a bit blurry these days…
If you are an organizational leader and have a strong organizational identity what are you doing to sustain that identity? Even if the answer is unclear, it’s an important and timely question to ask.
As we all, I think, are feeling a little bit more freedom in our lives these days, enjoying the beautiful Canadian summer days, hopefully taking some vacation, and begin to enjoy some semblance of social interaction in sharing a meal with a friend at a recently reopened local restaurant or similar, our moods and minds have hopefully lightened since the dark days of March and April.
While I for one, recognize we are not out of the tunnel quite yet and that the tunnel is longer than I had originally hoped for certainly, I did start thinking about the “light”… and so I thought I’d share some design visuals to help any of you that are thinking about how to bring life to indoor space as the fall months approach and we begin possibly to consider moving inside and/or back to an office space that has been standing empty for some time. Well designed lighting solutions can literally reduce the darkness and create life in space.
Lighting design, for any space whether commercial offices, residential/homes, home offices, educational institutions or whatever, is often overlooked and can really be the key to creating inspiring spaces for living and working. Check out these visuals and hopefully get inspired to bring light into your tunnel.
In the immortal and legendary words of Tom Petty, our current situation is so aptly described. Our good friends at Raw Signal Group shared a newsletter with us that we think is worth including here as it really speaks to workjoy™ from a leadership perspective.
Click on the lyrics to see their latest newsletter recognizing an amazing opportunity for us all to ‘run the tapes’!