By Kimberly Patten-Granier.
All images courtesy of Herriott Grace unless otherwise noted.
So, we are now sitting in 2015 with our seats and tray tables in the upright and locked position, waiting for that 10,000-foot“ding,” letting us know that it is safe to move about the year. This is the moment where we are hoping and praying that all the parts are in correct working condition and there is no looking back. Our bags of “goals” are already neatly in the overhead bins, but we know there will be some shifting in the months to come.
One goal that I have packed away this year is to find more sustainable ways to live my life. And, if I’m going to try to live a more sustainable life, how can I integrate that into my business as well?
Being an interior designer, it is much easier and more cost-efficient not to think about sustainability. Usually, the biggest factor in the design process is the client’s budget and if you had the choice, would you choose a $2,500 sofa or a $15,000 sofa? Chances are you would rather choose another option altogether: the $900 sofa. Right?
This leads me on a quest to find the balance between sustainability and quality vs. reasonable price options. This is something that even I grapple with, in spite of all my professional resources and discounts. This is the “shift” I need to find in the process of flying through this year.
For example, what is the difference between the craftsmanship that goes into a BDDW wing chair (I mean just look at that!!) and “another” wing chair?
Well, truthfully? About $12,500. And the first question is usually, “WHY?”
Henry David Thoreau said, “The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it.” Enter “The Ikea Effect.” This is the study that shows the increase in valuation of self-made products. The more effort we feel has been given to the production of a product (especially our effort), the more we understand the value of that product. So when we are not the ones making the effort, understanding the amount of love and work that goes into the making of a product is key. We are likely to pay more for something when we know it has been crafted.
We are living in a time where we are more socially conscious. According to Nielsen, US consumers are 42%more likely to pay higher prices for sustainable products. This is up from from 35% in 2011. One factor for this, found in an independent study from the GMA (Grocery Manufacturers Association), is that the more educated we are as consumers, the more likely we are to open our wallets.
Now, we might not all be able to afford to furnish an entire room with $12,000+ pieces, but maybe we can start by making more educated purchases, make it a point to know where our products are made and by whom. What if we look to place one or two pieces in our space that are sustainable, local, or repurposed? Or what if we make it a percentage of the pieces we own? What could we do? 20%? 40%?
So, let’s allow our living and work spaces to be home to pieces that are alive with spirit and vision, that are made keeping in mind both the world we live in and the way we live in it. Even if we can only afford one or two pieces, it makes a difference. This will not only add to our new and individual adventures in life, but it will allow us to help make a much needed shift in the world of design.