Sustainable Snuggling – Eco Collection Throws

I don’t know about you, but I love Fall.  Even in Southern California leaves start to turn, the angle of the sunlight creates amazing shadows, and the temperatures begin to cool.  Only problem with cooler weather is – I get cold easily.  As in, goosebumps at anything below about 72 degrees easily.  And being the sustainably minded person I am, I keep the thermostat set at 68 or below. What to do?

Problem solved!  These beautiful In2Green recycled cotton throws are thick, soft, and oh so warm.  Knit in the U.S., from yarn made of reclaimed t-shirt cuttings salvaged from cut and sew factories, the throws are 50″ x 60″, and machine washable.  I love the Ikat pattern ($130) in the knit, but there are other styles that are equally lovely. Read the rest of this entry »

Alifair – UDesign Project Winner

I thought this new chair design was fun.

Image via Interior Design Magazine

All the more so because it was the winning entry, by Savannah College of Art & Design student Ryland Quillen, for the Project UDesign “eco-friendly” furniture contest, sponsored in part by Century Furniture, a company that has taken many measures to make their products more sustainable, including FSC certified frames and low-VOC finishes.  I think it’s wonderful that, not only did this student receive a $1,000 prize, but more importantly, he will have his chair added to Century Furniture’s line, and receive a substantial commission off every unit sold.  That is a terrific accomplishment, and a great way to kick start a new career.

All that being said, I wish the other cosponsors of the contest weren’t Cargill’s brand of “soy foam” (a product that is really no more sustainable than regular foam), and Toray’s Ultrasuede.  Wouldn’t it be lovely to see a chair like this made in a truly sustainable fashion?  With bio-degradable, “stuffing”, free of chemical fire retardents?  And what about natural fiber fabrics?   Maybe next year…

For a really in depth analysis of why soy foam and Ultrasuede are poor choices for sustainable design, please read this excellent article by O Ecotextiles.  They say it better than I ever could – and with a lot more scientific data!

If I Had a Billion Dollars…

… I would not build this.

image via Archinect

But India’s richest man, multi-billionaire Mukesh Ambani, did.   He shares this 37,000 square foot “home” with his wife, three children and his mother.  Oh, and a staff of 600!

Now, the obvious gripes would be about the buildings “aesthetic”, or the incredibly wasteful use of space, or just the lavishness of so much money used for one family when so many go hungry within sight of this building.  But rich people will always spend ridiculous sums of money on themselves, and lavish homes eventually become public property, because there are only so many people on earth that have the income to maintain them.

My gripe has to do with why someone, in a country with such a rich heritage of art, culture and craft, wouldn’t employ thousands of local craftsman to create a work of lasting architectural beauty, instead of this generically ugly high rise. Think of the boon to the local economy, the patronage of the arts, the gift to the country’s future that this home could have been.

What do you think?  If you spent a billion dollars on a “house”, where would you put the money?

Upcoming Talk – “The Art of Handmade in Green Interior Design”

You remember that lovely house in Costa Mesa, CA I showed you on Monday?  Well, I’m going to be giving a talk there on Saturday, October 30th, from 10:00 – 11:30 AM, called The Art of Handmade in Green Interior Design.  There is no charge to attend.  Here is the description:

Come explore the role of handmade, artisan crafted furnishings in green interior design projects, and how you can integrate those ideas into your own homes. We will look at why items made by hand are inherently sustainable, and provide a much better investment over time. Special emphasis will be given to learning about the handwoven, vegetable dyed rugs, and the artisan dining table currently at the Cecil Place residence. A Q&A will follow the presentation.


I will be showing a bunch of materials and furnishings that are handmade, as well as images of artisan produced goods and a list of resources and contacts to find out more.  If you have even a tenth of the passion for the subject as I do, then you won’t want to miss what I hope is the first of many presentation on the subject.

If you would like to attend, please click here to RSVP. *** Notice***  Unfortunately, this event has been postponed.  We will be announcing a new date soon.

Fascinating Felt – Graf & Lantz

Unfortunately, this great ottoman didn’t quite qualify for my “Recycled Menswear” post a couple of weeks ago, being that it is from virgin wool.  Still, it definitely has that handsome look to it, doesn’t it?

Created by the Los Angeles based Graf & Lantz design studio, this ottoman consists of multiple small rectangles of German merino wool felt, painstakingly stitched together into the debonair herringbone pattern you see.

Of course, that isn’t the only cool thing they make from wool felt… Read the rest of this entry »

207 Cecil Place

Here is a nice video of a lovely green home for sale in our area.

I realize that it doesn’t look like what we usually think of as a green home, and that is exactly the point.  From the integrated solar roof tiles to the heavy duty insulation, the sustainable aspects of this home are largely hidden.  And yet, they are very, very effective, allowing this home to achieve one of the highest GreenPoint Rated scores ever given.

And those fancy Viking appliances in the kitchen?   Purchased from Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore.  Man, I need to go shopping there!

In any case, I had the pleasure of getting to know the couple behind this terrific home, and even helped them get a hold of  some of the sustainable furnishings to showcase.  If you watch when the video pans to the dining room, you will see one of William Stranger’s gorgeous wood slab tables.  And the rugs featured throughout are handwoven of sustainable, vegetable dyed yak wool and wild silk, (I’ll be writing more about the rugs in another post).   Online eco-friendly home furnishings retailer My Sparrow also contributed some of their great accessory items, such as artwork, pillows and bath products.

So, enjoy the video, or if you are in Southern California area, see about getting a tour at one of the open houses.  It’s a terrific project, and well worth seeing.  Oh, and many of the items you will see are available for purchase, so if you see something you can’t live without, feel free to contact me and I will get you more information and let you know who to contact.

Starbucks & Sustainable Fabric – WoJo

OK.  I’d just like to get this out of the way first.  This post has given me total “Barney Miller” flashbacks.  “Wojciehowicz.  It’s spelled just like it sounds.”

In my defense, I think I watched them all on reruns, but still,… I’m that old.

image by Starbucks

However, “Wojo“, the beautiful fabric on this chair, isn’t old at all.  In fact, it is a brand new, sustainable fabric developed just for Starbucks by New Zealand textile design firm, The Formary.

image by Dixson McCarthy Photographers

Read the rest of this entry »

Gettin’ Twiggy Wit’ It – Sticks & Stones

I love it when someone takes the simplest materials and makes beautiful art from them.

Or in this case, lighting.  The striking light fixture above was made of twigs and handmade paper, by designer/artist David Ward.

Originally trained as a landscape architect, David Ward soon found himself more intrigued by the twigs and branches trimmed from the trees than he was by the trees themselves.   After exploring different ways of attaching and forming the twigs he had accumulated, he began to make three dimensional artworks from them. Read the rest of this entry »

On Trend With Recycled Menswear

Trends often find their start in the fashion world, and then quickly find their way into the obsessive minds of interior designers.  Take the current menswear look seen in all the fashion magazines and blogs for Fall 2010.  Tweed, herringbone, houndstooth, wool…,  already I have found myself contemplating how I can integrate the look into my home.  So I did what so many of us do – I took a virtual stroll through Etsy.  And look what I found!

The “Woolcoat” Chair, by London designer Sarah Louise Dix, is a fascinating – and quite literal – blend of fashion and furniture.  By taking a vintage chair, reupholstering it in a lovely fabric, and then integrating a men’s wool coat, she has created a piece of sustainable, yet functional, art.

Of course, if that is a little too much for you, there are some simpler ways to get your trend fix… Read the rest of this entry »

3 Great Online, (mostly) Green Design Magazines

The offices of interior designers, myself included, can often start to look like one of those before shots on a TV show about horders.  Stacks of cloth, rolls of wallpaper, flooring samples, books, and magazines litter every available horizontal surface.  How lovely that the rise of virtual magazines is allowing us a chance to dig ourselves out from under some of the mess, even if just a little bit.

Here are my favorite online magazines with an eye for sustainable design: Read the rest of this entry »