Phone Booth: Don’t Call it a Comeback

Once ubiquitous with the past, phone booths are back in a big way and not just coming into the modern era but indeed leading the way into the future.

One of the last relics of the old NYC phone booths (The New York Times)

With open floor plans firmly here to stay, workplaces have increasingly become more communal than private. Concepts like teamwork and collaboration have fostered in new levels of productivity. However, this tremendous fluidity and change away from traditional workplaces has not been without sacrifice. One of the biggest losses along the road has been privacy. When in public spaces, where can one go to take a private phone call? Privacy is still important. Confidential work and personal conversations still occur on a daily basis and in the wonderfully collaborative settings of today’s world, often the only option is to duck (literally) outside to a public street or hide away in a hallway.

The phone booth has always had privacy within its design. The original versions yes, featured the payphone (you put coins in and actually dial a number, from memory!) but also featured three walls and a door. So calls could be shielded from outside noise and some privacy could be given to the user. The modern phone booth has taken this concept from its earlier iterations and advanced it exponentially. Now, instead of ducking into public streets or hallways, phone booth users can enter a space that is comfortable, private, and completely soundproof. And features like automatic ventilation, seating, shelving with charging capabilities, and privacy glass switches elevate the phone booths of today into the realm of tomorrow.

As we learned in previous blog posts on acoustic importance in the workplace, sound quality is a key to productivity in the workplace. Too much distracting noise can cause worker productivity to plummet. For cubicle-based offices, noise distraction from coworkers’ phone calls is a significant distractor. Walk into cubicle-based office floors and chances are a high number of employees will be working with headphones on. Headphones have become one of the only ways workers can get some relief from distracting noises and also feel some privacy in open environments.

The phone booth is here both to bring some privacy and civility back into work settings and also to utilize technology to create a new and exciting staple for the modern public space. The future called, it said to say phone booths are here to stay.

Big Little Business World: B2B Social Media Marketing

It’s 2018 and social media is fully incorporated into our daily lives. Even those of us who aren’t avid grammers or snappers, check-in savvy, or pinteresting are still “touched” by social media in ways we often don’t even realize. Maybe your favorite hole-in-the-wall restaurant is suddenly impossible to get a table for thanks to a feature in a “Top 10 Hidden Gems” list posted to Instagram. Or perhaps a friend was able to snag that promotion thanks to some extra IT skills she honed on LinkedIn’s learning platform. But what is likely even more unseen to many is the business-to-business social media marketing happening constantly in today’s world. While it may appear that the business-to-consumer model is most prevalent in social media but in actuality, business-to-business industries can thrive by utilizing these platforms.


In Business to Business marketing (also known as B2B or industrial marketing), products and services are sold to other businesses rather than to the general public. Businesses use these products and services as components of their own goods for sale, to support their operations, or to re-sell.

The B2B market is significantly larger than the consumer market because what is a single demand in the consumer world turns into a ripple effect within the supply chain. The Business Marketing Association estimates B2B marketers in the US alone spend around $85 billion each year promoting their goods and services to other businesses. The largest outlets for these promotional dollars include trade shows and events, internet-based media (like social media!), magazine advertising, public relations, direct mail, and telemarketing.


So how does B2B social media compare to other B2B marketing outlets? What social media platforms have the unique ability to do is connect on a more social or humanistic level. Social media is akin to the online equivalent of conversations and peer relationships so B2B companies are given an opportunity to market how they already run their sales or service based companies. Additionally, social media can be a great driver of website traffic and B2B markets would rarely buy from companies without checking out their website first. So the more people you can direct to your website, the greater a company’s sales interest will be. Social media delivers numerous tools to direct potential clients to a website.


An early success story of B2B social media marketing is the commercial shipping giant Maersk. Intentionally crafting their social media channels in a transparent and down-to-earth voice for most of the last decade, Maersk even occasionally shares negative news on their platforms. A pioneer in social media B2B connection, their head of social media marketing was even quoted as saying “Social media is about communication, not marketing”. Perhaps put differently, through focusing on honest social media communication B2B companies can achieve effective marketing as a result.


So what are some of the pitfalls facing companies in B2B social media marketing? First, do not get sidetracked by trying to achieve fans or followers. Leave that to the business-to-consumer world. B2B social media marketing is not centered on the quantity of relationship but rather the quality and also the depth of connection. Second, accept that not all social media channels are right for your business. Spend the time and resources identifying which platform or platforms are best for your needs and focus on them. Finally, listen carefully and monitor the conversations around you and your industry before engaging.


Global digital marketing firm AmazeRealise puts it best: ‘If done well, social media is more than capable of adding real value to a business and the bottom line. It’s no longer an option to err on the side of caution and not get involved. Your clients expect, and need you, to take the lead.’


In summary, B2B social media marketing is here and here to stay. Set your goals with intention and measure your success accurately. Although the B2B world has been slower to adopt the social media marketing platforms the time-tested adage, “If you’re not moving forward you’re falling behind”, speaks to the importance of intelligent social media marketing for B2B companies.

Maersk – An early B2B social media adapter

The Sound Around: Acoustic Importance in the Workplace

Today’s workplaces are constantly being overhauled to optimize productivity. Open concept layouts, creative seating solutions, pull up desks, natural lighting, and biophilic designs are all being utilized in order to make offices more comfortable, more productive, and ultimately more profitable. We know that the air we breathe, the light we see, and the furniture we feel have all proven to be essential to employee efficiency. But what about our other sense – what we hear? Does it do any good to have great lighting, quality air, etc. if we’re constantly being bombarded with rings, dings, chatter, mowers, and horns?

Privacy and productivity go hand-in-hand with acoustic sound quality in the workplace.  Noise and sound can be differentiated by defining noise as unwanted sound. Examples of noise in the workplace include:

  • Overhearing conversations, both by individuals and groups
  • Environmental background sounds like air vents, outside noises, music
  • Workspaces in high traffic areas or near break rooms

⇒ Additionally, backgrounds can be too quiet, causing any sound to stand out and distract.

Privacy and sound are intrinsically connected. Employees at all levels need to feel secure in their environments and conversation confidentiality plays a big part in that. The ability to have a private conversation and conversely not inadvertently overhear the conversations of others is highly important in the workplace. In fact, 70% of employees in an open office state that the conversations of others have the biggest negative impact on their creativity.

Two forces driving a push towards better sound quality in workplace design are increasing shifts towards open-plan office spaces and further emphasis on group teamwork and collaboration. While group work has proven to be a highly productive tool within the modern workplace, an unfortunate side effect has been decreased sound quality and increased noise. As groups gather and collaborate, the decibels rise and distraction ensues. There is even a scientific name for this: the Lombard effect.

The Lombard effect is the involuntary tendency of speakers to increase their vocal effort when speaking in loud noise to enhance the audibility of their voice.

In other words, people naturally increase their speaking volume more and more as their surroundings get louder. In general, a group can quickly become very loud as each speaker tries to talk more and more loudly. Interestingly, the Lombard effect doesn’t just relate to decibels but also to other sound features such as pitch, rate, and duration of syllables. Open floor plans and group collaboration in the workplace aren’t going anywhere thanks to their incredible ability to increase productivity – so increased attention has been put on acoustic quality to negate the distracting side-effects of such situations.

In the past, simplistic design tools were utilized to create a better sound environment in throughout workplaces. Office designers utilized elements likes carpet, fiber ceiling tiles, and high partitioned workstations for privacy and noise reduction. While effective for their time, acoustic design elements have now evolved into more advanced tools to fight nasty noise and increase sound design quality. Materials like cutting-edge fabrics and perforated timbers and metals have emerged that can be cut and colored to nearly any specification and then utilized to drastically reduce noise influence from the outside AND absorb sounds from the inside. Designers see a future where acoustic products will be seamlessly integrated into workspaces in a variety of forms so it won’t even be obvious that they’re there as acoustic boosters. These advanced acoustic materials will become panels, ceiling baffles, furniture, signage, desk barriers, walls, and even art.

For designers, acoustic quality is a challenge and an opportunity. Acoustic expert Angus Blaiklock tells us

“there are so few surfaces left in a workplace today – the biggest challenge is how to incorporate noise absorptive products without it being too obvious that is what is happening”.

In addition, the design community itself was initially slow to fully recognize the importance of acoustic quality.

“I think the design community’s consciousness about the benefits of an acoustically designed space has improved dramatically. There is still a long way to go, but it is always a tough dynamic between achieving the design aesthetic the client is after as well as an appropriately acoustically designed fit-out”, says Blaiklock.

As designers and workplaces continue to evolve in the ever-increasing fast pace of today’s business world, the correlation between privacy, job satisfaction, and job performance will also continue to be recognized. Buzzwords like architectural privacy as it relates to acoustic qualities will be factored into workplaces at every level. As more and more studies reveal, there exists a positive relationship between job productivity and performance, and privacy and thoughtful sound design.

“As design and fashion move so does technology and the perceived best solutions for the most appropriate design for an office. In some design thinking, there has been a move away from the open office – as such, noise reduction products/solutions will continue to develop”. – Angus Blaiklock

Special thank you to acoustic expert Angus Blaiklock for contributing to this Nevins post.


  • Wallis, Steptoe, & Cole, 2006
  • Brill, Weidemann, & BOSTI Associates, 2001
  • Burt R. E., Sundstrom E. Workspace and job satisfaction: Extending equity theory to the physical environment, Paper presented at the annual conference of the American Psychological Association, New York, September 1979.
  • Kupritz & Haworth, Inc., 2005

Biophilic Design Part III: Spotlight on the Leaf Living Wall

Aglaonema, dracaena warneckii, golden pothos, birds nest fern: do these names ring a bell? If so, you likely have a very green thumb. To most of us “regular thumbed” folks, these names conjure up nothing familiar (except maybe the names of certain flying mythological creatures). But in fact, aglaonema, dracaena warneckii, golden pothos, and birds nest ferns are just four of the plant varieties that can be placed in Nevins’ Leaf Living Walls. Each plant brings a unique, beneficial, and beautiful characteristic with it wherever it resides.

Some of the plant varietals compatible with Leaf Living Walls.

Take the pothos plant for example (three color phases of pothos: golden, neon, and jade), nicknamed money plant in many parts of the world, pothos has been used in a variety of studies on the effects of plants on humans. A study published in the Journal of Physiological Anthropology found that the pothos can induce an unconscious feeling of calmness in those who touch its living leaves (1). Additionally, studies have shown pothos is also efficient at removing indoor pollutants such as formaldehyde, xylene, and benzene (2).

Birds nest ferns, another compatible Leaf plant, is native to temperate regions like eastern Asia but is unusually well suited to grow in an indoor environment. Birds nest ferns feature exceptionally brilliant green fern leaves and are perfectly healthy in even low to medium light environments (great for offices where the lights are off on weekends and evenings). Many avid home gardeners feature birds nest ferns in their homes as crucial part of their at-home rainforests.

Birds nest fern (

Leaf Living Walls is one of Nevins’ biophilic design products – all beneficial to any office, educational, retail, healthcare, or hospitality setting (to name a few!). Want to increase sales in a retail environment? Studies have shown customers are willing to pay 8-12% more for goods and services when in a space with biophilic elements. Our previous posts on biophilic designs and the benefits they bring to any indoor space have explored Nevins’ biophilic products like Bio Canvas, our wide-variety of planters, and now Leaf Living Walls – room dividers and wall features. 

In an increasingly fast-paced world and work environment, companies are paying close attention to every available tool to increase productivity and also employees’ efficiency. As we have explored, studies are showing the increasingly important effects biophilic designs have on health, wellness, and the bottom lines. And it’s not just offices that can benefit from these powerful green products. For example, education environments with biophilic products have seen learning rates rise by as much as 20-25%, test results improve, concentration levels increase, and ADHD effects are reduced. 

 Leaf Living Walls is a beautiful and practical way to bring some of nature’s best plants into any workplace. The builder tool on the  website allows anyone to design a custom Leaf Living Walls. Check out more on Leaf, and our previous posts on the many interesting benefits of biophilic designs, at and


  1. Journal of Physiological Anthropology 2. Wolverton, B. C. How To Grow Fresh Air, Penguin Books, New York, 1997.

Our On-the-Go Life: The New Workplace

Transit Tablet Tables by Nevins featured in a multi-functional, multiuse workspace

It’s lunchtime in your workplace and you have a project you need to run through before an afternoon meeting. So you take a seat at your office’s new integrated seating area, grab your soup and salad, and pull over one of the new Transit Tablet Tables to perch your laptop on.

This is not just an imagined scenario – this is a reality in workplaces around the country. Work and productivity have left the restrictions of offices and cubicles and moved to wherever you need it to be. The workplace is now revolving around the person, instead of vice-versa.

With new and exciting products to take this concept into reality, there is no limit to how much we can increase our productivity when we do not constrain ourselves by limited function products and spaces. Pull up tables like the Transit Tablet Table provide spaces with the ability to function however they are needed. A quick meal, a spur-of-the-moment meeting, or just a change of scenery for your afternoon work – Transit exemplifies working on your terms. Companies now more than ever are relying on the power of shared ideas and teamwork to tackle the complex issues of today’s business challenges, therefore, the modern workplace demands collaborative products that work for you when and where you want them.

The adjustable height Parsons table by Nevins

There is no right or wrong way to use the office spaces of today and tomorrow. Instead, contract industry products are being designed to allow workers the ability to individually chose how to use their workplace products to best suit their productivity on any given day. The contract furniture pieces best exemplifying this concept often do not resemble the office furniture of decades past. Instead, we see multifunctional features like adjustable height tables/desks, lounge-like settings, teamwork-centered environments, and on-the-go products like pull-up anywhere tablet desks.

Nevins’ Climb seating is created for collaboration

Ultimately, the workspaces driving productivity and taking their businesses into the future are those that embrace their workers’ individuality to chose where and how they work at the office. Workspace preferences vary from person-to-person and the products that support productivity no matter how they are used are the products that we will see in the offices of today and tomorrow.  

Diving Deeper – the Best of Biophilic Design in an Increasingly Urban World

Large-scale Leaf Living Wall from Nevins

In the latest post of our series on biophilic design we will examine the Nevins products bringing the natural benefits of biophilia into workspaces around the country. As we explored in our last post (here) the research surrounding the benefits, both mental and physical, that biophilic designs bring to the workspace is compelling. But beyond the benefits of just bringing “the outdoors in” is the connection that these biophilic products bring us with nature in an ever-increasing urban world.

Bio Canvas

Nevins kicked off 2018 in a big way with the launch of Bio Canvas walls followed by Bio Canvas room dividers. Bio Canvas is made up of panels featuring the following sustainably harvested materials: reindeer moss, poplar bark, and light stone. Off the bat, one of the main draws of Bio Canvas is the zero maintenance required for upkeep. Even the moss has no light or water requirements. It becomes more brittle in dry environments and more pliable in humid environments, therefore, functioning as a natural humidity gauge. The zero maintenance makes Bio Canvas absolutely the easiest way to bring biophilic design into workspaces large or small.

The most popular panel for Bio Canvas is the moss and it is easy to understand why. The moss is harvested in Northern Europe through hand cutting thereby ensuring regrowth. Following harvest, the color is perfected. Bio Canvas moss is available in three shades: lime green, medium green, and forest green. The shades are achieved through a propriety method of dying the moss with a natural food coloring agent which provides long-lasting color stability. Then the moss is preserved using a vegetable-based preservative, therefore, avoiding any toxic and dangerous chemicals. The final result is three beautiful moss options to fit whatever your concept is for your own Bio Canvas. Additionally, moss naturally possesses high-end acoustic attenuation properties which allow it to capture medium – high voice frequencies. What this means for the workplace is shrill tones are dampened and muted making concentration easier and productivity higher.

After moss come bark and light stone panel options. The bark featured in Bio Canvas is sourced from Yellow Poplars in the Appalachian Hardwood Region (AHR) in the eastern United States. Repeated studies from the U.S. Forest Service show the sustainability and increasing forest for Yellow Poplars. These Yellow Poplars are most often used in the production of furniture but the bark has been typically discarded (its light shade makes it undesirable for mulch). Bio Canvas sources this wasted bark for use in the panels. Finally, the light stone panels are the third option for Bio Canvas panels. Available in the finish shades of Prairie Brown and Mountain Grey, the light stone panels are a combination of natural stone and resin. This combo is ideal as it makes the stone panels much lighter than raw stone would be.

Bio Canvas room divider featuring all three shades sustainably harvested reindeer moss

The plentiful options for Bio Canvas make it highly versatile. But what really makes Bio Canvas stand out is its total commitment to non-toxic components, eco-friendliness, and the level of long-term quality.

Leaf Living Walls

Leaf Living Walls

Leaf Living Walls is the leafier sibling of Bio Canvas. Also available as room dividers and hanging walls, “Leaf” is all about the plants. Including but not limited to 16 different plant varieties Leaf showcases hanging and upright plants on a group scale. A sophisticated watering and lighting system makes maintenance nearly automatic – a standout feature in the world of living walls. The many benefits of living plants in an indoor environment are very much present with Leaf. Natural air quality filtration and sound absorption are two of the most well documented physical environment benefits offered by living plants indoors. However, many studies also suggest the mental side effects of plants in work environment include increased productivity, increased focused, and overall mood boosts.

Leaf Living Wall room dividers

While the trend of bringing the outdoors in is ever increasing in popularity so is the trend towards urbanization throughout the world. Today, 82% of North Americans live in urban areas and are increasingly concentrating in mid-sized and large cities (source: United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division). It is no wonder that with this widespread urbanization designs to incorporate the natural world into our man-made world are increasing. Nevins started in 1976 selling planters, still some of our hallmark products today, because we believed in incorporating life into workplaces. That same spirit carries us through into today with all of our products. Leaf and Bio Canvas are a way to show our commitment to cutting-edge, functional biophilic designs with the all the choices Nevins is known for. Solutions by (moss, bark, stone, plant) choices!

Biophilic Design Explained – And how it’s transforming workspaces into lean, green, work machines

* This is the first post in a series focusing on upcoming biophilic design products for the workplace. 

Have you heard the term biophilic design buzzing around a lot recently? Are you still trying to grasp exactly what that means? Well rest assured, you are not alone. Designs tagged as “biophilic” have been popping up in a big way all over workplaces yet even Merriam-Webster does not have an official definition for the term yet. However, the commercial design world is way ahead of Ms. Merriam; embracing biophilic design now more than ever.

Biophilic design was once a concept reserved just for those lux tech offices on the west coast but now biophilic design elements are making themselves mainstream throughout the country. But just what does biophilic design mean? One well accepted definition states

“Biophilic design, an extension of biophilia, incorporates natural materials, natural light, vegetation, nature views and other experiences of the natural world into the modern built environment” (L. Blomberg,

Biophilia, essentially meaning feeling friendly towards life, was popularized in the late 1970s as a word that encapsulated “the rich, natural pleasure that comes from being surrounded by living organisms” (E.O. Wilson). Biophilic design has furthered the concept and applied the pleasure, as well as the benefits, of the living world into the modern office.

Image Credit: Getty

A recent report by Human Spaces (Global Impact of Biophilic Design in the Workplace) studied over 7,500 office workers from 16 countries to determine the effects of nature within the workplace on workers. The numbers were telling: even in offices with rudimentary biophilic design elements (such as good sunlight) employees were 15% more creative and 6% more productive. Percentages like that have a significant impact on a business’ bottom line so just imagine the impact that more advanced biophilic design elements, like Bio Canvas and Leaf Living Wall from Nevins, could have on a business. And besides the percentages and the bottom line, biophilic design elements have an impact on what you’re breathing, what you’re hearing, and your brain.

Bio Canvas featuring sustainably harvested reindeer moss from Nevins

Biophilic design is fast making itself one of the go-to buzz terms of 2018. As we continue to explore biophilic designs in this series it will become even clearer why businesses everywhere are eagerly looking to expand the biophilic design elements of their offices to include the beautiful and beneficial properties from nature. Careful study of the effects these new biophilic products can have on the workplace reveals a plethora of business benefits – with more being discovered constantly. Pretty astounding what a little bit of the outdoors, indoors, can do.

The beautifully simple planter from Nevins – the company’s
first biophilic design product debuted in the late 1970s