Sustainable Design For The Home
As an interior designer, one of the best parts of my job is learning about and sourcing new products and materials. Trade shows, conventions, travel, and in-person meetings with emerging artisans and carpenters, provide me with education and inspiration regarding innovation in design and craftsmanship.
I am excited about what my industry is doing to make home furnishings and materials eco-conscious and sustainable. Their efforts will impact the environment positively and provide healthier living spaces for you and your family.
As I navigate the world of interior design, I continue to look for great artistry and quality in manufacturing. Today, some new considerations are needed to select wonderfully crafted goods. It is the use of luxury recycled materials—the transformation of raw materials into high-end luxury furnishings that are beautiful and sustainable.
What is sustainable interior design?
Sustainable interior design is environmentally conscious, with an emphasis on recycled materials. It is a home design that reduces negative impacts on the environment while increasing the health and comfort of its occupants while focusing on eco-friendly design.
Four features are common:
1. The use of environmentally preferable products
2. Protect and conserve water
3. Enhance indoor environmental quality
4. Optimize operational and maintenance practices.
Within our homes, there is a new emphasis on natural materials like wood, stone, clay, cork, ceramics, glass, wool, cotton, and linen. These materials are safer for our health, reduce negative environmental impacts, and resonate with us as they provide a soothing and calming aesthetic.
There is an array of new organic furniture being crafted from reclaimed wood where no trees are cut down to obtain the wood roots, and they can be repurposed from trees sustainably harvested for lumber.
Beautiful handcrafted and customizable fabrics and rugs can be made from hemp, recycled content, and natural and renewable materials like recycled cotton, ethical wool, bamboo silk, and jute. Petroleum-based products are non-renewable and non-biodegradable. Keep in mind supply chain, labor, and fair-trade practices as well.
Upcycling old furniture is also something I like to do when designing for a home. Oftentimes, if an older piece of furniture is constructed well and with some creativity, the piece can be brought back to life for continued relevancy and extended life span, thereby reducing the demand for new resources from the environment.
DESIGN WITHIN REACH – Eames Lounge Chair & Ottoman
Eco-Friendly Description: LEVEL Certified and Indoor Advantage Certified. LEVEL® by BIFMA is an evaluation and certification system for environmentally preferable and socially responsible office furniture. The LEVEL program has three performance tiers: LEVEL 1, 2, and 3. The higher the number, the more criteria considered and met across four key areas: materials, environmental impact, human health, and social responsibility. Indoor Advantage Gold certification is SCS Global Services’ highest indoor air quality performance for furniture. The certification assures furniture products support a healthy indoor environment by meeting strict chemical emission limits for volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
More and more “conscience” products and manufacturing are being created daily. The products are exciting, and the creativity is endless. When our design firm encounters furnishings that cannot be installed in our projects because of damage during shipping or we change out unwanted furniture, I always look to charities, veterans’ groups, and organizations working to provide better living conditions for those displaced or in need. Landfill dumping is just not an option anymore.
DESIGN WITHIN REACH – 111 Navy Stool
The 111 Navy Stool resulted from a collaboration between manufacturer Emeco and the Coca-Cola® Company to find a use for recycled soft drink bottles. Each stool is made from 111 bottles, thus the name.
Photos courtesy of Design Within Reach
©Bo Dean – Stock.Adobe.com
One of the most creative ways to recycle is to think of new ways to reuse items and accessorize either new items made from recycled materials or refurbish your old or used pieces.
Recycling and reuse are important and a way to make a difference not only for the planet but the people who inhabit it. In interior design, sustainability can be part of many aspects of a project to deliver high-quality design with low environmental impact. We all share a commitment as global citizens to protect the world and our future.