In the past when people thought of a sustainable living environment, many imagined a farmhouse lacking modern plumbing and basic comforts. This is no longer the case and modern sustainable designers are proof of that!
We all want to live a greener, more eco-friendly life. But let’s face it, it can be pricey. So to make this easier, Green Times tracked down some local eco-interior designers to help you achieve a professional classy look, without emptying your wallets.
Gone are the days when your garden was the only touch of green in your home. Today’s eco-interior design makes it easy to green up your house, using anything from that old suitcase shoved underneath your bed or that old chest of drawers you inherited from your grandmother.
First step: Get rid of the ‘throw-away culture’
For many environmentalists and sustainable designers alike, reusing is always better than recycling. But up-cycling — salvaging a product that has ‘run its course’ and repurposing it into something new, doesn’t have to conjure images of scrappy sad-looking furniture pieces. In fact, it’s like gold in their hands.
Just ask Danielle Ehrlich – an internationally recognized permaculture and eco-village designer who hails from Johannesburg. Passionate about design that is environmentally, culturally and socially sensitive, Danielle comes with a bag full of fresh and exciting tricks to help you green up your space.
“There are no rules in design and up-cycling. The best part is that it will cost you absolutely nothing. An old bathtub can become a water feature; a suitcase on a stand can become a bedside table. We need to get rid of what I like to call ‘the throw- away culture’. Be more creative with your waste and give it a second life. It is amazing what a lick of VOC free paint can do. Use your imagination and explore your creativity.”
Danielle is a co-owner of an award winning company called LIV Green and has worked on some interesting briefs from a life sized flying zebra, woven from used tyres, to an exhibition in the oldest castle in Malmo Sweden and created green interior concept for creative studios – creating beautiful edgy furniture pieces.
Up-cycle and combat effects of climate change
“I aim to create better environments through design and hope to aid the change necessary to combat the effects of climate change. I hope to help people think and act differently towards a future of urban living and aid them to live better and fuller lives,” she explained.
LIV Green has over 4 years won 5 awards for their innovative green designs, including the Decorex Gold Award 2008, The Fleure Du Cap and Real Simple Green Innovation Design Award 2009 and The Arts and Culture impACT award in 2011. Danielle says what makes her most happy as a designer is seeing recycling systems in place.
“I love seeing people’s personalities being reflected in their space. Logic makes me smile. Worm bins and compost heaps and seeing how people cultivate their own veggies in their space is what’s logical to me. Food security is a large focus for urban living systems.”
Husband and wife join forces
A hundred odd kilometers on the R27 in Velddrif north of Cape Town, a husband and wife team not only create up-cycled furniture and artwork, but also believe in self-sustainability and green living.
Under the eyes and hands of James and Antoinette Bennett, new life is given to almost every piece of alien or reclaimed wood and rescued metal that found its way to the workshop at their house.
Using materials which are gathered from either local scrap merchants or building sites, they cut, grind, weld, paint and plasma cut their ‘finds’ into the most amazing and sometimes unique up-cycled furniture, sculptures or decor items.
Functionality is a priority in most of the items. Their “Bling-Blik” design, chairs made from redundant oil drums, was exhibited during the COP17 meeting in Durban late last year. They were also chosen by the DTI to represent the West Coast in an Up-cycled Show in Germany, which will take place from 7 to 12 February this year in Munich.
“Self-sustainability is not high-maintenance and up-cycling is not work, it is a hobby that we live passionately. We’re excited about the future of sustainable design, especially to attend the ‘Too good to waste campaign’ in Germany as it will attract visitors from all over the globe,” James said.
“The awareness is only going to grow from here, although the understanding of it may still take a bit of time. We need to stop throwing away precious resources that can, with a bit of imagination, be the next best thing. Do not doubt your knowledge and ideas. It may take a little time, but soon it will be imperative in living through climate change,” Danielle added.
By Sonia Koopman