Best of TH: Sustainable Designers, Part IV
Here we are, having arrived at the fourth and final episode of TH's best designers. Culling down the list has proven a long and difficult process, and to make the final cut, these designers had to do more than just one thing well. The designs had to be numerous, varied and excellent, and after much research, time and thought, here they are. In no particular order, the final four are Haworth, Interface, Designtex and Humanscale.
As a leader in office furniture and architectural interiors with a worldwide presence, Haworth products are informed by a lifetime of involvement in global trends and learning. With over 250 patents and many industry firsts (ISO 9000: 2000 and 14001 certification and ISO/IEC 17025 accreditation are just a few) there isn't much they don't do, so we decided not to narrow it down to one designer, and to give the glory to the company itself. With a hand in everything from floors to lighting to seating to storage, Haworth pretty much does it all in the office environment. They may be best know for their Zody chair, which has been certified Gold Cradle to Cradle by McDonough Braungart Design Chemistry (MBDC), and is one of the first six products ever certified by MBDC. There are more than 50 LEED Accredited Professionals on staff, ensuring that sustainability go far beyond chair design to include green building, alternative energy and extensive recycling programs (read the rest of their sustainability initiatives here). One of the most prolific, and one of the best workspace designers we've ever seen. ::Haworth
Interface has a vast empire of floorcoverings; so vast, in fact, that we decided to focus on FLOR, which is the option most available for TreeHuggers (Interface itself seems to concentrate on commercial spaces). Specializing in modular carpet tiles, FLOR's mega-variations make it suitable for just about any room in any configuration, from area rug to wall-to-wall carpet. Most face constructions are nylon; others are natural fibers like hemp or wool. Thankfully, all FLOR products recycle like a champ, meaning that you can essentially trade FLOR in on a new model once it's life cycle has come to a close. More information on all of Interface's sustainability projects can be found here.
Designtex concentrate their efforts on fabrics & textiles, but, boy, do they diversify from there. Upholstery, drapery, wallcovering, panel fabrics, architectural panels, surface imaging, hand-tufted rugs, shades and screens -- whew! Each of these is designed with our environment in mind, from the origins of the materials to the means with which they're produced to the effects of them on those who live with them (for those interested in more details of their sustainability performance, here is a PDF). Take the Climatex Lifestyle line, for example: completely compostable nutrient designed to turn back into soil at the end of its useful life, every dye chemical is non-toxic, the water flowing out of the plant at the end of the manufacturing process is safe to drink, and all waste trimmings are pressed into felt to be used as mulch. Need a TreeHugging textile? Go with these guys. ::Designtex
The Liberty Chair is just one of the few products made by Humanscale, a company that specializes in seating, textiles, keyboard systems, task lighting, monitor arms, CPU holders and other ergo tools for the workplace. Perhaps the most ballyhooed project is the Liberty Chair, recently selected as the "Overall Winner" by Slate Magazine in a review of current options in office seating. Designer Niels Diffrient also produced a companion, the Libery Side Chair, which was awarded the Best of NeoCon® 2005 Gold Award in the Guest Seating category. I.D. Magazine also named Humanscale as one of ten "Best Companies" worldwide "that help push design forward." ::Humanscale