Discover the new wave of interior designers who have a mindful practice with a holistic approach that includes sustainable materials, local talent and more.
Denver-based interior designer Anna Smith’s company, Annabode, is in the vanguard when it comes to creating environmentally and socially responsible interiors. She brings her extensive knowledge of both design and organic materials to every project, and she only works with vendors who have gone through her own customized vetting process.
“We love telling the stories behind the pieces we source – who made them, how, from what, etc. It helps us create a more meaningful home for our clients; one that they’ll cherish. For us, sustainability means asking more questions of our vendors and being more selective of our materials – so that the stories we’re telling are ones about responsibility, goodwill, impact and hope.”
Interior designer Jessica Helgerson’s flexible and responsive approach to design takes into account aesthetics, functionality, financial considerations and existing architecture. The client’s own vision plays an important role, and helpful guidance is provided to those who need it. The firm is based in Portland, Oregon, but works on projects across the United States.
“Our approach to sustainability at JHID has transformed and, I think, deepened over the years. It began nearly twenty years ago as an effort to use the ‘greenest’ materials, which at that time meant products such as bamboo flooring and recycled glass tiles, and grew into an effort towards design longevity – using the RIGHT materials for the project – those that are the most long-lasting and feel the most appropriate for the house they are being used in. Whenever possible, we do use local materials and work with local artisans and artists, which helps to sustain the local economy as well. There are many aspects to sustainability.
In the bathroom pictured above, we took our cue from the existing architecture with our selection of materials and created a bathroom that will last as long as the house, and always feel right. The paneling we designed is Oregon vertical-grained Doug fir, stained to match and detailed to match the paneling found in other areas of the house. The earthy handmade floor tiles also echo tiles that we preserved in other areas of the house. We maximized storage throughout the room, including a beautiful bathtub, a generous shower, nice proportions…ideally, this remodel was just right and the house will never need to be remodeled again.
The original kitchen of the house, pictured above, had very little character of its own, so we created a design narrative, ‘an ode to the Pacific Northwest,’ that guided all of our design decisions. In addition to thinking deeply about what defines the particular beauty of our region, and creating a home that feels very right for this place, we also prioritized local materials. The floors are Oregon white oak. The counters are locally salvaged Western walnut from a Portland vendor. The tiles were made here in Portland by Tempest Tileworks and hand-painted by Mira Eng-Goetz, one of the designers in our office. All the cabinets were made by a local company, and even the bowl on the counter was made by local ceramic artist Marjorie Dial. The lights throughout are low-energy LED, though that is pretty much the standard across the board these days.”
At her Boston-based Mandarina Studio, founder Amanda Reid takes on a select number of projects to ensure the most personalized collaboration with her clients. She commits to the time needed to add one-of-a-kind details to inspiring, diverse spaces, maximizing their potential for personality as well as sustainability.
“One way I approach the concept of sustainability in design is to encourage clients to invest in high-quality finishes and materials because they are longer lasting and don’t need to be replaced as frequently – so it’s less wasteful and a worthwhile investment. I also try to incorporate vintage and antique pieces into even contemporary designs – I love an eclectic and layered look as it adds character to a space, and then there is the added bonus that repurposing existing pieces is sustainability at its finest.”
A passion for both travel and beautiful, luxurious spaces informs Tina’s approach to interior design. Each design seamlessly blends functionality and practicality with the client’s vision and wishes. Tina brings a global perspective to each project, and is happy to customize everything down to the last detail, so each client is 100% satisfied.
“Part of my design process is evaluating how furniture and furnishings that the clients already have can be refurbished and reused. Sometimes that includes reupholstering, refinishing or simply rearranging the item into a different area of the home for a fresh interpretation. Other times, I source vintage pieces. I like my homes to have a bit of history, personality and character. I’m not a fan of the temp furniture movement – I’d rather reinvent a piece, decreasing our overall environmental footprint instead of adding to the landfills after living with a poorly made piece for a year or two.”
New York City-based Becky Shea’s interior designs are influenced by organic modernist principles, and she believes in capturing nature’s energy to create spaces that are calm and soothing. This is accomplished through the use of muted, organic materials, layered elements and strong materials such as concrete and steel.
“We have a responsibility as tastemakers and designers to create spaces that are healthy, both mentally and physically, and that encourage you to have gatherings with your loved ones for a happy, fulfilled life. We are equally responsible in being focused on thinking through how each element gets worked into a space, and the origin/carbon footprint that it has. To me, sustainability is a two-pronged approach: we have to think of it both environmentally and economically. If you are purchasing a piece from a local carpenter instead of a larger retailer, not only will the carbon footprint be reduced, but the money going into that piece goes right back into our local economy. That’s the kind of sustainable approach that will ensure our communities stay strong, and the pieces you end up with are truly special.”
Working with a boutique interior design firm located in Lower Manhattan, Shelly Lynch-Sparks collaborates with architects, contractors and engineers to craft interior spaces that are unique, functional and aesthetically pleasing. Her portfolio includes restaurants, office spaces, bars, wellness studios and residences, and she takes on projects from simple redecorating to full renovations.
“When we begin working on a project, we approach sustainability with simple design principles whether it’s residential or commercial. Giving furniture a second life/upcycling is one element we often always implement. We purchase vintage pieces that are locally sourced instead of buying new pieces. We also reuse our clients’ pieces and give them a different backdrop through paint or wallpaper, which breathes new life into each piece and reduces waste.”
Based in Park City, Utah, Julie Chahine doesn’t just do what everyone else is doing. She loves to research new ideas, find new and little-known products and materials and incorporate global perspectives in her interior spaces. Modern design, contemporary furnishings and sustainable architecture inform her unique approach.
“It is important in today’s world that those of us who are fortunate to have the opportunity to build our dream homes embrace the environment in the process. Building environmentally conscious structures is very attainable, and can actually be a fun learning experience for the clients as well as the whole team.”
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