Seattle, WA may be a Mecca for coffee lovers, but there’s so much more to the city than that. It’s also a hotbed for sustainable business ethics and the development of a low-impact lifestyle, both of which mesh nicely with this week’s featured company, Viola Park.
But to tell their story it’s necessary to back up a bit.
Since its inception in 2001 Henrybuilt, the parent company of Viola Park, has taken a practical approach to environmentalism. According to the company, longevity is among the most important aspects of sustainability. And so, along with careful materials selection, Henrybuilt strives for solid, long-lasting construction in its cabinetry & furniture designs for kitchen and home.
From the start founder Scott Hudson intended for his company to offer a product balanced between the highly functional modular designs of Europe and the work of custom cabinetmakers here in the U.S. – high quality design for the middle range of the market.
When the recession hit, sales dropped, and Hudson’s creative response was the creation and 2009 launching of Viola Park. The approach is small scale, with design-oriented modular kitchens manufactured in whole and delivered complete, using a standard set of components designed to work in a wide range of situations.
A configuration tool on the Viola Park website leads customers through the initial stages of design, so that even those without training in interior design can have an active hand in creating their kitchen. Customers then work directly with a company engineer for the finishing stages. The kitchens are manufactured to order at Henrybuilt, in Seattle, and shipped directly to the buyer.
No middlemen. No warehouse full of pre-fabricated cabinetry collecting dust. And lower costs for everyone concerned.
“I think that kitchens designed as systems – more unified wholes – are absolutely the future,” says Hudson. “The way it is done now is a waste of economic resources, not very functional and much more likely to be replaced a few years later.”
Component materials are selected for durability, beauty, and conformity to the company’s sustainable ethic. Each item is hand made on site with the same craftsmen overseeing the entire production process. The results are sturdy, sleek, perhaps even minimalist, yet warm and inviting.
One sterling example of Viola Park design is the inconspicuously named Island B, which features components like a pivot storage system, drawer organizers, and an integrated bread box – enough to earn “Best of 2011” award from Interior Design Magazine.
And as for that sustainable ethic? These kitchens include a base cabinet core with no added urea formaldehyde, and use FSC Certified woods with water-based low VOC lacquers. Bamboo plywood is an option frequently used. Countertops may be composed of PaperStone, an architectural surface material made with petroleum-free phenolic resins and post-consumer recycled paper.
PaperStone is certified by the FSC, Smartwood, and Rainforest Alliance, can add to a project’s LEED points, and, according to Pure Green Magazine is “impossible to damage”. Sounds good!