Thursday, June 7, 2007

When Green Becomes Beige

Sometimes I think that too much is being made out of “green” as a lifestyle choice. Of course, I think we all need to take stock of what we do and how it affects longtime viability of the environment. But a part of me longs for the day when green practices will be so ubiquitous as to make calling it out as separately will be unnecessary. However, we are in a period of building awareness and as such, one has to be diligent in thinking about your activities in terms of whether they are good for the environment or not. That's new for most people.

I recently watched an interesting program on the Sundance Channel ( in the series “Big Ideas for a Small Planet.” This particular segment focused on sustainable design practices. The program featured the activities at various furnishing companies and how they are producing products in a more sustainable way.

What came through in the discussion from the DFE team (design for the environment team) at Hermann Miller in Holland, MI. Their goal is to be a zero landfill company that creates zero hazardous waste and generate zero emissions by the year 2020. The company which gave us the Eames and Aeron chairs now has launched the Mirra chair that is made of 42% recycled products and is 95% recyclable at the end of the chair’s life.

While the goals of the company are impressive, I was really intrigued by the discussion that the resident designers had on just what it means to create “sustainable” furniture. They seemed dedicated to a philosophy that manufacturing quality products that are ecologically sustainable should be standard operating procedure and the fact that the products are green should be transparent to the customer. I agree and applaud that attitude. As example, take a look at the Mirra chair as it doesn’t look “green” to me! It just looks like a fabulous product.

PS: I also really like what the Salm brothers are creating at Especially this creative wall covering, made from 100% post and pre-consumer waste paper.

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