02 February, 2009

Palatial News - Rubie Green & '..The rise of eco-chic design'

Thought I'd share this interesting article from the SMH (Sydney Morning Herald) that I read last week on 'the rise of Eco-Chic', mentioning several of my favourite textile designers & decorators....

It's often said these days that green is the new black. Being eco-minded is becoming quite the smart, style-minded thing to do. Perhaps you're among those with a rising awareness about the "stuff" you bring into your home, paying mind to how long you'll love it before you toss it away and also how it has been made. On the other hand, maybe you've been put off by the oddness of what you've seen paraded as eco-design."I really want to show people that homes can be eco-friendly without sacrificing personal style," says young New Yorker Michelle Adams, who runs an eco-friendly textile company, Rubie Green, which already has a strong local fan base.Adams is in Sydney for next week's trade-based Australian International Furniture Fair (February 4-6) where she will give a seminar titled Eco Chic Design.
"It's a common misconception that eco-friendly implies either a colourless, style-lacking space or a super-modern, energy-efficient structure that barely resembles a house," she says."Neither need be the case, so I'm excited to share what some top New York designers are doing that's both green and stylish and, most of all, easy to live with."Indeed Adams's designs confound the conventional tree-hugger aesthetic. Her fabrics boast swanky, uptown Manhattan motifs: leopard prints, zebra prints, bamboo trellis, bold geometrics, all befitting a chic penthouse in a magazine spread. Which is no coincidence really, since Adams's previous role was as a market editor on Vogue's sister magazine Domino, a style bible to home-decorating enthusiasts everywhere.There, Adams became aware there were no fashion-forward eco-textiles. The textile-design graduate saw a business opportunity.
"I always wanted to have my own line of fabrics. My heroes were people like Cath Kidston and Rachel Ashwell - who even had her own TV show. I didn't realise that textiles could be this big!'
'So I just decided to take the plunge and go for it. I had a lecturer at college who said: 'If you're going to go out and put more products on this Earth, then you should make them sustainable.'
"Thus, Rubie Green's printing process is non-toxic and the bedding range, made in India, is from a factory certified for its socially responsible treatment of employees. Nevertheless, Adams has been delighted the fabric designs are beloved for their look as much as their origin.It's an experience shared by local Sydney brands such as Bird, Cloth and Publisher textiles, whose work also has a solid green base but who have carved their own distinctive place with a series of wonderfully creative fabric designs.

What's different about Adams is that in just 18 months she's gone global. Enlisting the talents of a photographer friend and an old college BFF as a model, Adams has produced a glamorous online shop for her products that could have come straight from the pages of her old magazine."All of my customers are obsessed with Domino and they love the over-the-top Hollywood Regency style [a term for the popular American trend paraded through the magazine that's inspired by 1960s and '70s high glamour]."As part of her Sydney talk, Adams will be sharing her views on where trends are heading next. "

For the past few years, Hollywood Regency style has been incredibly popular in New York and my designs certainly cater to the trend but we're starting to see homes that are a bit more subdued and natural - perhaps it could be called Boho chic?"Design is starting to move in a simpler direction. Things are less graphic and we are moving to a more subdued, natural look. I'm working on creating some new colourways for my fabrics that will reflect this trend - soft pinks and greys for people who don't want to be so bold."Adams won't be the only one imparting her eco-vision to the design community. Six leading architects and interior designers will construct room sets based on the concept eco-luxury - two words that have only recently started to go hand in hand.

Meanwhile, emerging designers will be showcasing some thought-provoking eco-furniture designs. Here's a look at some of the best on offer.Eco-hang upsVictorian design graduate Stefan Torre's Vertical Fold Chair can transform from an occasional seat into a wall-hung art panel. Challenged to design something with a double purpose, Torre says: "The best way was to create something that saves space."The chair is made from E-veneer and hoop pine ply. He's hoping the chair launches him on his way to his ambition. "One day I'd like to run my own workshop and to make furniture to my design," he says.
Paper as plasticDon't be fooled by the plastic-like appearance of the Zeopod; it's recycled paper and hemp.What's exciting is that this new material, called Zeoform and made in Mullumbimby, is made from cutting edge nano-technology and doesn't use the glues, resins or toxins common in many plastics. And it is 100 per cent biodegradable at the end of its life.

Perth-based designer Wilma van Boxtel was invited by Zeoform to design a seat with their new product and the shape was inspired by a seed pod she discovered in Queensland. To round out its blue-chip sustainable credentials, her upholstered seat is made from Joyce Eco foam with an eco-wool covering.Van Boxtel, who lectures in design at Curtin University, says: "If we as designers make better choices, then the consumer doesn't have to think about it."I teach my students to think about sustainable design [and packaging] as using common sense."Cutting through the eco-hypeIn building lingo the term "kerf" applies to the fraction of material that is lost when a blade cuts through it.
Alex Lesniowski named his display stand Kerf because "that's the only wastage in the design", says the RMIT furniture lecturer of his modular design."You can make it into a hall table, chairs, a coffee table, even a racking system. It's like Lego and I have only come up with about nine configurations but once I put it out there I hope the public will come up with a lot more," he says.Lesniowski is a committed eco-designer."I am very passionate about using material to its full potential with no waste," he says. "I chose hoop pine because it's sustainable and it's local. The are so many so-called green materials but there's a cost [including environmental] in transporting them."And he points out that an important part of sustainability is a product's durability."If you look in antique shops, you will find chairs that have been around for 100 years - that's because they have been built well. They're sustainable because they have been recycled through generations."

Organic tablesOne normally doesn't think of perspex as being eco-friendly but young Sydney designer Amy Tang has sourced an EcoResin from the US to manufacture her striking Organic Culture tables.Against the geometric shape of their silhouettes, the table top features seagrass or die-cut bamboo framed within the clear surface. "I wanted to design something that was minimal and edgy but organic," Tang says."Having that sustainability [in the design] is the number one thing people look for. I want to design products people value for life. That's my philosophy.

Find out more . . .
* Rubie Green rubiegreen.com

* Alex Lesniowski alexlesniowski@optusnet.com.au

* Amy Tang amz@amzdesigns.com

* Stefan Torre torre-01@hotmail.com
* Wilma van Boxtel deseosdesign.com*

The Australian International Furniture Fair and co-located fair Decoration & Design (February 4-6) at Sydney Exhibition Centre, Darling Harbour, Sydney are trade-only events. See aiff.net.au.

Image & article source SMH.com.au

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