Thoughts on Sustainable Design


Today I had a long long long meeting at the design center with a little time for sourcing afterwards. I popped into one of my favorite showrooms Holland & Sherry and stumbled upon these gorgeous green chairs. Thinking they would be perfect for client I asked for the details only to be pleasantly surprised to find they were vintage and upholstered with the company’s line of responsible wool fabrics. I swooned, took a bunch of pics, and then went on my way. As I walked from showroom to showroom I really got lost in the idea of sustainable and responsible design. What does it truly mean? Why does it seem so sterile? Is it really unattainable? There seems almost to be a negative view of “green design”. They (meaning the companies pushing it) seem to push a very modern, simple, aesthetic that can read somewhat granola-esque. The problem is that this aesthetic is not for everyone, in fact it includes very few people. Most people want a warm inviting home and that definition looks very different to everyone. From ornate to minimalist sustainable design should reach us all and there is no reason it can’t. 

If you ask most Interior Designers they will tell you the best designs evolve over time. The home that is truly thoughtful and collective is the one that really captures the essence of the people who reside there. Which is really the point, right? Your home is where you come to, where you raise your babies, where you laugh, where you cry, where you lay your head, where you heal, and where you live. Your home should absolutely be a reflection of you. Whether you are flashy or subtle your home should showcase your personality, but it should be able to do this in a responsible way. Many people feel the need to fill their space immediately but I encourage you to take your time. Step back, take a deep breath. Contemplate that empty wall for a month, a year, even two, until you find the piece that absolutely makes your heart pitter patter. You don’t think its possible? I promise it is, you just haven’t found the right piece yet.

Stores like Home Goods, Pottery Barn, and Target amongst others fill their shelves with trendy soulless crap that makes you feel good for the moment but what you are really doing is settling for the here and now.  Lets face it you really are more interesting than what that Target shelf has to offer. But people continue to buy these things because they think they are getting a great deal, but lust fades my dears, it fades. Love is forever. In my very first job in the Interior Design field I walked in on my first day to find the light below being installed over my desk. It was love at first site. I had never seen anything like it before. Its a chinoiserie inspired vintage pendant handmade of brass with clouds and peonies swirling around it. The base and opening for a light bulb change is a budding peony. I stared at that fixture day after day hoping it would someday be mine, but alas it was totally out of my 20-something budget at the time, so my admiring was left to work days. I held my breath everytime I heard someone talk about selling it to a client. Then the day I left that job for another I took it with me. I had squirreled away enough nuts to purchase it, it is still is the most expensive light fixture I have ever purchased, however I love it as much today as I did the day I walked into the office. If we move, its coming with me. It gives me great joy, hangs over our bed, and casts the most beautiful shadows on our ceiling. This is one light fixture, we should feel this way about all the items in our homes.

If we took the time to fill our homes with pieces that speak to us, that we really love, there will be no need for those shelves of soulless crap. Imagine the waste we could reduce? Imagine how happy we would be to be home? What does this take? Time. Simply time. We need to stop, relax, and let our homes evolve over time. When we rush to fill our spaces because we feel it must be filled we make choices that we regret later. We buy things we don’t need, that we end up replacing later, which wastes money, time, and precious resources. Sustainable design is not stark and sterile, sustainable design is thoughtful design. I challenge you to practice thoughtful design in your own home, because that is where it all starts.

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