NYDC What’s New What’s Next
Designer’s Guide: Easy Steps Towards Greener Designs
September 22, 2010, 7:30pm at Cliff Young Ltd. NYDC 200 Lex, Suite 505

Rule #1: Do not obsess over 100% green – an eco-friendly mindfulness is a perfect start.
Rule #2: Ask questions, even if they may seem dumb.
Rule #3: It is ok to take baby steps…

While most architects and builders are well advanced in green regulations and terms like green, sustainability and eco-friendly are common today in the design community, a lot of interior designers and furniture designers are still struggling to identify the best ways to steer their designs in the green direction and put their eco-friendly awareness to day-to-day use. Learn with us how to make your designs greener.

Participants: Rachel Hulan from Homeportfolio.com, Interior Designer Connie Lee, Franklyn Roth, AnnMarie Morano from NY Spaces, Irene Santoro LEED AP, Leedtraining.net.

Moderator: Lindsey Weidhorn from HGTV

Designer's Guide: Easy Steps Towards Greener DesignsOur conversation will start with our Signature Collection piece, the Machinist table, which we have reinvented in “green,” and focus on a thoughtful approach to furniture customization that can lead to eco-friendly interiors. We will discuss “green” terms and definitions, green architecture versus interior design, indoor air quality, green certification and how it applies directly to interior designers. We will review pricing of green furniture vs. regular, how it pays off and how to keep costs down. Most importantly, public awareness and their increasing standards for green design.
Thank you to our panelists!

Panel discussion review

Our amazing panelists have challenged the “business as usual” approach in today’s interior design during our “What’s New What’s Next” evening. Many high-end interior designers these days roll their eyes when they hear about green design, for many reasons. For one, they feel no compelling demand for green from their specific niche of clientele; for another, the truth is that there are relatively few green furniture products on the market right now that meet the lush aesthetic requirements of high-end designers.

Unfortunately, green still seems like a fad to many people, for treehuggers only and, while it makes serious strides in architecture, building construction and industrial design, it is yet to be taken seriously be interior designers. There is also the price comparison currently circulating in the industry about green design usually being 30% more expensive, although green technologies are fast evolving. While people are widely aware of the health implications of the interior furnishings components, like paints, carpeting and adhesives, proper statistics about the measurements of the long terms benefits and savings in health costs are still being compiled.

Designer's Guide: Easy Steps Towards Greener DesignsWe feel that our panel has dismantled the industry’s main objections to green and our green version of the Machinist table has addressed them all: lush aesthetic? – can be easily achieved by properly using your creativity and design sense. Green – a fad? – as Leslie Young put it, “by just paying attention to our children and being mindful of their future, the perspective changes irrevocably”. Price? – we managed to keep the price of our green Machinist table in bamboo the same as of the Machinist in Mozambique veneer – how? By going a step deeper in creativity and thoughtfulness, which not only increased efficiency, but it was fun and it is for us the quintessential quality of good design. We’ll be happy to give you tips.

Cliff Young designs and manufactures custom furniture every day, but so far, we admit that our green options have been limited: a reclaimed wood top here, molded recycled leather there. Our redo of the Machinist is proof that a thoughtful, intelligent customization not only goes a long way and makes you part of the solution, but it stimulates your creativity and it motivates you as a designer to be constantly on top of current materials and furniture technologies. It was embarrassingly easy for us to turn one of our signature collection pieces into a green product, with the same rich look, same price and same life span, only providing a much higher indoor air quality for our clients. All it seems to take is using a designer’s creativity in a more mindful way. The results were amazing, simply by using sustainable wood, non-toxic adhesives, water-based finishes, local shops, recyclable materials and by really, really thinking through ways to use the waste, which led to the creation of an additional collection piece.

It may have started as an ecological mindfulness and holistic awareness but it makes solid common sense now for anybody concerned with the long term perspective. Above all, it’s not even difficult; it takes such easy steps and the same designers privately concerned with exercise and eating healthy foods could easily provide healthier home environments for their clients.

Designers today owe it to their clients to provide them with green options for their home. As one of our panelist put it: “I just go ahead and do it; I show my clients the paint chips as I always do, without even selling them on the fact that those particular paints I selected are better for their health – they don’t need to know that to chose their color – but it is added value to my work and it is added value to their long term health”.

Designer's Guide: Easy Steps Towards Greener DesignsAccording to our panel, at the end of the day, really good design is implicitly a greener design – well thought-through designs are bound to be longer lasting, will make the best possible use of materials, will create ways to minimize waste and transportation requirements. At the end of the day, a great designer will be recognized not by renovation budgets or local fame, but by how well he caters to his client’s long term well being and quality of life.

We find out that a lot of designers shy away from green not out of snobbery, but simply because they are not up to speed in terms of green options. Our panel members covered the whole spectrum, at all levels of information and the general conclusion: shoo your ignorance, research green online, take a Leed course, talk to green manufacturers so that you yourself become able to widen your options, improve your clients homes indoor air quality, be able to hold intelligent conversations with your shops.

While nobody can tell how soon the interior designers and furniture designers will embrace green design, times change fast and soon enough it will not be only a matter of choice to go green, but it will be an absolute necessity for our long term health and for the health of the planet.

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