West Elm Design Director Paulo Kos Goes Online for Inspiration

west elm pratt students photo

Paulo Kos (far left) and the Pratt students who worked on the West Elm collaboration. Image credit: Pratt Institute
West Elm, purveyor of clean-lined, modern, and often sustainable home goods and furniture, knows how to lock down a creative partnership. From the brand's "green" holiday collection with celebrated party planner David Stark to its collaborations with organizations like the Lombok Pottery Center in Indonesia and the organization Aid to Artisans, West Elm is all about uniting with the most talented and earth-conscious in design.It's no wonder then that in the spring of 2009, West Elm approached Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, one of the most sustainably innovative design schools in the country, to work on a sustainable office furniture collection that just hit West Elm's shelves.

If you're a design blog devotee like we are, you have probably already read the buzz about the collection's "versatile," "effortlessly chic," and "thoughtfully made" desk, chair, and lamp. We spoke with Paulo Kos, director of furniture design at West Elm—and a Pratt alumnus himself—about the story behind the collection.

west elm furniture photo

Image credit: West Elm

West Elm is constantly striving to create an eclectic and uniquely modern experience for its customers. "Modern can mean many things," Kos says. "From reinventions of antiques and vintage forms to mid-century influences to ethnic influences to contemporary minimalism, we are constantly trying to layer it right."

By infusing this design sensibility with the company's green lifestyle philosophy, "Get a little greener every day," West Elm has created an eco-following, even among those who didn't think that sustainably harvested woods, recycled materials, and non-toxic finishes could produce the wallet-friendly West Elm goods they so love.

Kos and his team look not only to their collaborators, but also to their travels around the world and vintage pieces in flea markets for inspiration. "The great thing about eBay is that it is like doing both, right from your computer!" Kos tells us. And with that, Kos helped us find items from eBay that he felt could inspire him and his team in their continued effort to make some of the best in sustainable furniture choices.

In his eBay search, Kos often used the term "vintage industrial"—and not surprisingly, he is on to a major design trend. When we compared the past week vs. a week-long period approximately one year ago, we found that sales of items with the term had risen 85 percent and listings had risen 67 percent!

This article was written by Lexi Green, a Brooklyn-based design, fashion, and shopping writer and contributor to eBayGreenTeam.com and TheInsideSource.com. She is currently a Master's Degree candidate at Pratt Institutes's environmental sustainability program.
Read more about sustainable furniture:
The Eco Friendly Pratt Home Office Collection from West Elm
From Felled Tree to Dining Room Table: Furniture That's Sustainable and Unique
10 Coolest Multifunctional Furniture Designs (Slideshow)

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