We are living at the dawn of a New Era, a time in history where we have never had this much access to information and technology as well as native cultures from all regions of the world.
With the evolution of design, building and architecture, we have an unprecedented amount of responsibility considering the state of our natural world. Globally, the earth is changing at a dramatic rate, human population continues to grow exponentially and we continue to tap our natural resources.
With an advance in modern technology and intuitive living, we can shift from a society that extracts to one that is regenerative and is in turn, balanced.
By incorporating site location, human scale and natural elements such as weather patterns and local materials, into the design of buildings, we can begin to return to a localized way of designing our communities.
For the past several decades, we have been using templates of cookie-cutter homes, buildings and commercial structures to design our urban cities. What we have discovered is that every region is specific with its own climate, topography and natural resources. Beginning to integrate all these elements, in addition to, the orientation, the design, materials and culture of a place we can we begin Designing for a New Era.
Design can be defined as the creation and execution of an object, space or system.
In its broader terms, it has the capacity to represent many things, in this context design is not only referencing our homes and workplace, but also our landscapes, our neighborhoods and in turn our cities.
In taking a journey through design, we begin with the interior and work our way out, painting a picture on how everything is interrelated.
Often times, sustainable design is not seen, but rather it is felt. Now is a time to see interior design as a hybrid of combining such key components as green building and design as well as ecological interior and exterior spaces.
One of the biggest problems we face, are environmental toxins, chemicals and other materials, created largely from industry, masked as dryer sheets, smoke, scented candles, antibacterial products, air fresheners, cleaners, furniture, deodorizers, cat litter, sprays, perfume/cologne and synthetic fibers.
These chemicals have saturated our water, food and the very air we breathe, but most important, they have entered our bodies and now we are passing this on to our children.
So, what is in our interiors?
- Phthalates – Found in plastics, plastic wrap, plastic bottles, plastic food containers and fragrances.
- Phenols – Found in household cleaners, perfumes, polishes, waxes and hard plastics.
- Urea Formaldehyde – Found in furniture, carpets, upholstery, plastics, building materials and foam insulation.
- Biological Pollutants – Found in dust, mold and mildew.
- Organochlorine Compounds – Found in pesticides, chlorine, paints, waxes, plastics, PVC (vinyl).
- VOC : volatile organic compounds – Found in paint, furniture and carpeting.
- PBDE : polybrominated diphenyl ethers - Found in flame retardants in furniture, soft furnishings and electronics.
Many of these chemicals are not only found in our living environment, but have made their way into our food supply through the various natural cycles found in life.
Common practice uses a variety of chemicals in our soft furnishings, carpeting, electronics and fabrics. This information, should encourage us to be as discerning as possible. It is key to eliminate these chemicals, in addition to a host of many others that have never been tested for their toxicity levels to human life.
These days there are material and product selection for all things green. Consult your experts and always source products that are built to last, made properly, non-toxic and truly healthy. There is a lot of green-washing and consumers need to educate themselves, on how to discern product claims.
There is a new approach to the conventional way of designing and building, that incorporates new ways of thinking, such as incorporating a life-cycle analysis, designing to human-scale and using nature as our muse.
Let us start designing and creating a future where purchasing food, clothing and furniture, naturally do not have chemicals in them. Make sustainability a standard practice anddesign a way of life.