In the last few years, you’ve probably heard phrases related to sustainability and design floating around. At its core, sustainable design seeks to reduce negative impacts on the environment and build things to last a lifetime.
More and more people are starting to audit their own impact on the environment and how they can make more eco-conscious decisions at home. However, for those just learning about the concept, sustainable design can feel overwhelming and complicated to understand. Fortunately, many top interior designers are making sustainability more attainable and understandable through their work and messaging.
Here’s how top style- and thought-leaders will be making more eco-friendly decisions within their firms and in their personal lives in 2021. Hopefully, their sustainable design resolution for the coming year will help inspire your own.
Laura Hodges of Laura Hodges Studio
Sustainability is always on the top of Laura Hodges’s mind, from the decor items hitting the shelves at her shop to each project, both small and large, she takes on. As a LEED AP, a professional credential signifying one’s expertise in green building, the Maryland-based designer has extensive knowledge of and dedication to sustainable design practices while encouraging others to think green. In her design of the upcoming Obsidian Concept House’s dining room, Laura is planning to include two green walls that are filled with houseplants while utilizing vegan leathers and vintage pieces.
- We always donate our clients’ unwanted furnishings, appliances, and building materials whenever possible, but we’re hoping to do even more to donate excess materials as well, to keep them out of landfills.
- For 2021, we are planning to implement a per-project donation to plant trees with Eden Reforestation Projects.
- We’re narrowing our vendor list to prioritize those vendors with a proven track record of sustainable manufacturing practices and a documented policy for sourcing rapidly renewable resources.
- We will be increasing our minimal waste offerings at our shop, Domain, which also allows us to better serve our clients and bring them more eco-conscious lifestyle products such as bamboo toothbrushes, beeswax food wrap, reusable paper towels, and mesh produce bags.
- We will continue to start with vintage and antique finds to avoid new production and source locally from small businesses to minimize our carbon footprint. For 2021, we’re hoping to increase our custom furniture design for every project so we can work with more local woodworkers and makers.
Sean Leffers of Sean Leffers Interiors
Designer Sean Leffers’s style feels both timeless and innovative, as the creative focuses on highlighting antiques while embracing new eco-conscious technologies. In his first project, set to be completed in 2021, the San Francisco–based designer will reveal his net-positive energy home on the slopes of Powder Mountain in Eden, Utah. Nicknamed “The Dark Chalet,” architect Tom Wiscombe and Leffers worked together to design the experimental home, which utilizes black glass solar panels as its sole energy source.
“The most important thing to remember is that there is always a way to make your choices more sustainable, whether you are looking at high-tech solutions such as solar panels and home batteries, or simple things like being conscious about how and what you buy. We are working on a project right now where we have decided that almost everything we are purchasing is going to be pre-owned, so we have been sourcing antique and vintage pieces from all over the place, and it is turning out so beautifully. Pay less attention to trends and more attention to what you are really connecting to, so that you make choices that will make you happy for a long time. Invest in things that you truly love and take it slow; everything doesn’t have to be perfect all at once. That way your choices will have longevity, and you won’t have to constantly cycle things in and out that you feel ambivalent about.”
Libby Langdon of Libby Langdon Interiors
A board member of the Sustainable Furnishings Council, Libby Langdon encourages other designers to take at least one eco-friendly action to promote more sustainable design. Known for her “easy, elegant, everyday style,” Langdon’s dedication expands beyond her design projects and into her many home-furnishing collections and outreach to other designers.
- Start by asking questions. Learn about where the items that I source for my clients come from and how they are made. Eighty percent of the environmental impact of any product comes from the materials used to make it. Find out what went into the products I’m considering.
- Keep reusable bags in my car, purse, at work, and at home so I’ll never have an excuse to use another plastic bag again.
- Paint is one of the quickest ways to change the look of a space, but can off-gas VOC’s (AKA toxic pollutants/harmful chemicals) into your home. When painting any clients space, I make sure to use no-VOC paints.
- Purchase goods made from wood that is sourced from legally harvested and responsibly managed forests. Look for certified, reclaimed, North American, or plantation-grown woods.
- I’m also going to work hard to try to shop locally rather than clicking and ordering so much online. It not only supports local businesses but reduces cardboard waste and shipping materials as well as reducing emissions and pollution due to transportation.
- Recycle, recycle, recycle. This is one of the most direct ways to prevent additional damage to the planet. Not only does it help curb the pollution inflicted by landfill sites, but it also cuts back on the need for raw materials, so that our natural resources can be preserved. When I have extra fabrics that are discontinued, I donate them to Children’s museums, crafting groups, quilters groups, special-needs schools, and elderly communities.
Chenault James of Chenault James Interiors, LLC.
Chenault James strongly believes in making new uses for old things within your home. As a certified member of Wellness Within Your Walls, the Louisville-based designer helps her clients make more sustainable choices without losing an ounce of sophistication.
“I recently became certified with Wellness Within Your Walls, an organization committed to helping designers and homeowners make natural and sustainable choices in the home, and independently have been working to make as many responsible choices as I can in my building practices and products. It’s not an all-or-nothing approach. That’s not realistic for most people. It’s about making mindful choices; even small efforts create a healthier result. And our goal is to work with clients aligned with the same. In the end, the project is going to feel different if you know who made everything and that it was developed using real materials and paint. And when you find clients who align with this, it becomes a partnership, an understanding of where and how you’re spending your money.”
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