Tuesday, February 1, 2011

tuesday musings: sustainable interior design and you

By now, you’ve all heard the mantras “go green” and “reduce, reuse, recy­cle”. I’m pos­i­tive you are incor­po­rat­ing recy­cling into your daily lives.  And no doubt you’ve heard many a mar­ket­ing cam­paign claim­ing ‘green’ ben­e­fits for this and that prod­uct.  Inte­rior design usu­ally involves replac­ing, ren­o­vat­ing or restor­ing a built envi­ron­ment, so inte­rior design­ers are uniquely posi­tioned to offer sus­tain­able design solu­tions at the begin­ning of a project. By def­i­n­i­tion, “sus­tain­able design seeks to reduce neg­a­tive impacts on the envi­ron­ment, and the health and com­fort of build­ing occupants.”

Last week’s #int­de­sign­er­chat on Twit­ter focused on green design. (Click here to access the tran­script – chat is every Tues­day at 6pm ET, with a dif­fer­ent topic each week). Par­tic­i­pants dis­cussed sus­tain­able prac­tices they use in their busi­nesses and the best ways to help clients embrace sus­tain­able design. The major­ity of design­ers (on the chat) believe it is their job to edu­cate clients on avail­able sus­tain­able options.

Low or zero VOC paint is the most com­mon rec­om­men­da­tion to clients. It is easy to spec­ify, most clients have heard of the issue with VOC and every major paint man­u­fac­turer offers low or zero VOC alter­na­tives. If you hate the smell of paint lin­ger­ing three days after the job is done, invest the extra dol­lars up front for this paint. It’s not just the smell – it’s the chem­i­cals you, your chil­dren and your pets are breath­ing in.  For days. Ugh!

Most design­ers agree that qual­ity is key for fur­ni­ture to stand the test of time. Buy­ing the best qual­ity you can afford elim­i­nates the need to replace things, and if tastes change, well-made fur­ni­ture can always find a home with some­one else. Antiques and re-purposed fur­ni­ture define the “reuse” label because they elim­i­nate the need to buy some­thing new alto­gether. An added ben­e­fit is lit­tle or no off-gas from glues or fin­ishes. When spec­i­fy­ing refin­ished fur­ni­ture, design­ers have eco-friendlier options from which to choose.  Another option is using reclaimed wood to make new some­thing new. Counter Evo­lu­tion in Brook­lyn turns old bowl­ing lanes into mod­ern, rus­tic furniture!

cus­tom din­ing fur­ni­ture by counterevolution

Design­ers across var­i­ous seg­ments of the indus­try offer tips for choos­ing sus­tain­able. Light­ing spe­cial­ists rec­om­mend CFLs and LEDs. Tile man­u­fac­turer Mod­walls cites recy­cled glass tile and renew­able cork as green options. Tex­tile pro­duc­ers encour­age organic and nat­ural mate­ri­als. Every­one agrees buy­ing locally (coun­try of ori­gin) cuts down on emissions.

mod­walls verid­ian recy­cled glass tile blend

As a con­sumer, what does sus­tain­able design mean to you? Do you ask for green alter­na­tives? There are some peo­ple who con­sider less than a totally green lifestyle to be a fail­ure and pur­chas­ing any­thing new (or heaven for­bid, lux­u­ri­ous) to be a bad thing. I am not one of those peo­ple. On the bell curve of life, there are a lot more of us in the mid­dle than on the tail ends! I believe con­scious choices every day con­tribute to the over­all greater, greener good. I think tex­tile designer Karen Young, owner of Ham­mocks and High Tea, summed it up best: “It's impor­tant to know that green is attain­able. No need [for city dwellers] to plant farms & milk cows. Small changes work collectively.”

tea towel from Ham­mocks and High Tea — 100% cer­ti­fied organic cot­ton twill, printed in the US with water based non-toxic inks.

I’d love to know: what does sus­tain­able inte­rior design mean to you?

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  1. […] This post was men­tioned on Twit­ter by Coun­terEv­o­lu­tion and Coun­terEv­o­lu­tion, Cyn­thia­Ma­son­In­te­rior. Cyn­thia­Ma­son­In­te­rior said: Tues­day mus­ings: on sus­tain­able #inte­ri­orde­sign http://ow.ly/3NKdD cameos by: @HammocksHighTea @counterev @modwalls #in […]