August 11, 2010

What is "Green" Design?

Pin It Now! Awhile back I was contacted by my alma mater, Design Institute of San Diego, to be featured in the school’s newsletter. (Read full interview here.) Corine Maggio asked me some great questions! But there was only so much room allocated for my ramblings, not everything made it into the final story. Since the topic of "green" design is a pretty fascinating one (to me, anyway), I thought I'd share my thoughts. And please leave your own ramblings, as I'm curious to hear what everyone else thinks of "green" design.
Q: Do you implement "green" design into your projects? If so, how?

A: “Green” design is kind of an overused, ambiguous term, I think. Don’t get me wrong - I’m all for using “green” materials and ecologically friendly building practices. But I worry that the term “green” is just a trend and is used way too heavily as a marketing tool. I recently read an article in a kitchen and bath publication that was entitled “Sustainable Trends”. Isn’t this a bit of an oxymoron? To be sustainable means an entirely different thing than being trendy.
Taking "green" design to the max in Seoul, Korea.  Read story on
I’d much rather use the term sustainable than “green” though. To me, true sustainable design is design that sustains the human spirit first. Think about it - if we create environments that work well for us on a physical, emotional and spiritual level, we won’t need to tear things down and rebuild as often. If we focus solely on using green materials we may be creating environments that may not be sustaining us on a human level. So, my hope is that designers will design for all human needs first, then incorporate “green” design second.

"Green" home in Oregon made of cob - a mixture of clay, sand and straw. (Read more here.)
I personally like to use “green” design by reusing and repurposing things - building materials, furniture, fabric, etc. Really anything that still has some life in it. And I think it’s important to not just use objects for their originally intended purpose. I love to see an object be given new life by being used in a new way. I also shop at estate sales and second hand stores. I think slowing down the purchase of “new” is going to be one of the most effective ways to create a more sustainable, or “green” environment.

View photo documentary: "Estate Sales: Everything Must Go" here.
Thank you, Corine, for allowing me to put in my two cents on this topic.

Anyone else want to share their thoughts? Is “green” an overused marketing term...or the future of design? Or is it both?

If you are ready to eliminate fear from your color and design decisions... please call me at 650.867.3896, or shoot me an email at to discuss your project.