Are you sitting comfortably? With health and wellness high on many people’s agendas, imagine how you would feel knowing the sofa you are reclining on was designed with your wellbeing in mind, crafted from renewable materials and in a way that supports and empowers the communities and individuals who made it.
Or that the home you are living in will contribute to you and your loved one’s health, happiness and productivity, while perhaps even helping to encourage the biodiversity of your local neighborhood to flourish.
As a designer, I’ve spent a good portion of my adult life planning, creating, and executing for other people and when it came to my own home, I was convinced I had most of the details right. I’d obsessed over everything; from paint colors and wallpaper to furniture and finishes. I was my own worst client, but in the end, I loved the calm and welcoming home I created for my family.
Turns out my idyllic home had some hard lessons in store and when my young toddler developed severe respiratory problems, we were sent down a rabbit hole trying to figure out why and what to do about it. We did all the typical medical due diligence and were still left with many unanswered questions. I was then introduced to someone who would unknowingly change the course of my life and career. He was an environmental consultant focusing on building biology, and part of his job was to test the home for pollutants and chemicals that shouldn’t be there in the first place.
To my surprise, our perfectly ordered home wasn’t all that healthy. The air quality was terrible, our water had record levels of unhealthy substances, we had mold and other chemical compounds on our walls; many of which are known respiratory irritants that can cause serious health problems. That moment was the turning point – the catalyst for change in our lives and my work as a designer.
After searching for resources to help, I found it challenging to gather even basic information on what goes into many domestic products. It was disheartening to see the opacity still shown by manufacturers, and the disinformation and greenwashing that many companies put online or on their socials.