As designers, we have a unique opportunity to observe and guide the purchases our clients make. We live in a world full of vastly varying opinions and in a city full of politically charged positions. I'm not sure how acknowledging climate change became such a political statement, but I'd like to suggest that we dial things down a little bit, that we stop arguing and start taking ownership of our individual impact on the world.
Many of my clients understand the value of supporting local artist. That's not a hard sell. There are relatively few artists and craftspeople in our area considering how large our city is, and most people who live here are acutely aware of this anomaly. Artists who are able to support themselves in an expensive, buttoned up city are rare and should be valued for what they bring to our culture. We can all pretty much agree here.
I find it a little harder, however, to begin a conversation about ethically sourcing furnishings and textiles. I in no way think that shopping at IKEA makes someone an irresponsible global citizen, nor do I think a client is unreasonable for sometimes putting budget needs ahead of ethics. My aim is simply to introduce the idea of choosing at least one piece of our project to be ethically sourced. This means that that item comes from renewable materials, it is manufactured close by, or it is a recycled or vintage item. Clients often worry that ethically sourced items translate to a larger price tag, and sometimes that is the case, but there are infinite ways to think a little more creatively and find something that fits our needs perfectly and doesn't add extra strain on our job budget or the supply chain. Like it or not, we can all agree that our resources are a little limited and should be valued little more.
I thought I'd share a few of the more accessible sources I like to start with in introducing hesitant clients to the idea of ethical design.
BLOCK SHOP TEXTILES: Pillows, throws, textile art
SUSAN CONNOR NY.: Textiles designed and printed by hand in NYC
FOXWOOD CO.: Furnishings designed and made just outside of Washington, D.C. or Asheville N.C.
POP & SCOTT: Furnishings made from sustainably sourced timber