Quality Is Sustainability

Beautiful, high quality products tend to travel from home to home, not home to landfill, by Barry Goralnick

As client and consumer concerns about damage to our natural environment increase, sustainability becomes ever more urgent and important. Today, people are not just more open to products and services that do less harm to the planet; they are demanding them. One of the best ways to meet this demand is to create products of enduring beauty and quality.

Architectural Digest recently reported that nine million tons of furniture are thrown away every year, according to EPA estimates. That accounts for roughly 5% of everything brought to landfills. We in the design world can make a real and positive impact in reducing this burden on the earth’s future.

We are already seeing other industries reduce their post-consumer waste. In the clothing industry, fast fashion is becoming less appealing as it is seen as a fast track to the landfill. Rent the Runway calls this out literally in their recent campaign: “Fast Fashion Is Garbage.” Their client base of savvy consumers who appreciate good design are doing their part by opting for pre-used or rented options that meet their high design standards, without sending more to the landfill.

In a recent interview, Pam Batty, VP of Corporate Responsibility at Burberry, described their expanded approach, “Our customers make an investment when they buy Burberry products, so they tend to want to love them for longer. That’s a message we’re trying to promote more when it comes to repairing clothes. We’re also helping customers to customize pre-owned clothes as a creative way to encourage longevity.”

Creating and selling furnishings that our customers want to love longer is a sure way to reduce our landfill burden. One advantage to this approach is that it can require little or no technological innovation. We only have to find companies that create gorgeous, high quality products using sustainable sourcing and manufacturing techniques.

Interior by Kati Curtis Green, a New York-based designer who sources sustainable new and vintage pieces in High Point

This is how we work with our clients at GORALNICK ARCHITECTURE DESIGN STUDIO D.P.C. We encourage high quality investments, and our designs almost always incorporate an eclectic mix of elements, including antiques.

Loft Living Room and Upper Eastside Apartment designs composed mostly of vintage finds, by Barry Goralnick

There are wonderful sources for vintage and antique products in High Point. Some of my favorites are Market Square’s Antique & Design Center, Schwung Home, and the shops at 214 Modern Vintage. Every Market, I purchase pieces from these showrooms that spend the remainder of their lives circulating through beautiful settings, instead of ending up in the landfill.

Antique & Design Center

Schwung Home

Gillian Bryce Gallery, Antique Dealer in 214 Modern Vintage

For sourcing new pieces at Market, I rely on seeing and discovering companies who value sustainability and offer products that meet my standards and expectations for quality. If my firm has a choice of sustainable over non-sustainable, we select something that is better for the environment. We source fabrics that are made of responsibly sourced natural materials – everything from carpeting that is biodegradable (including the backing) to stone – whenever possible. The Sustainable Furnishings Council is a good guide to the full spectrum of environmentally conscious companies in High Point.

As a product designer, all of the companies for whom I design – such as Currey & Company, Vanguard Furniture, and Visual Comfort – are aware of and work to incorporate sustainability best practices. These include recycling fabric cuttings, wood chips, and metal scraps, as well as implementing alternative green manufacturing techniques.

Currey & Company Mizmaze Table Lamp, by Barry Goralnick

Vanguard Furniture Blended Modern Greta Swivel Chair, by Barry Goralnick

As you incorporate more sustainable practices into your work as a designer, remember that buying quality that lasts is a relatively simple and easy way to know you’re making better decisions. High quality pieces will be kept from house to house, and are more likely to be passed on or passed down than passed off to the landfill.

About Barry Goralnick AIA, ASID

As head of his own firm for more than 20 years, Barry has become a world-renowned architect and designer. His Blended Modern™ lifestyle captures the ultimate in successful living, and can be seen in his designs for premiere home and hospitality companies, such as Villeroy & Boch, Watermark Designs, Currey & Company, Vanguard Furniture, Visual Comfort, and Stark Carpet, among others. He has been awarded “Best Product Designer” by the ARTS Awards, the “Innovation In Design Award” from Cottages & Gardens (5-time nominee) and is a “Best of Year” Winner for Product Design from Interior Design. In addition, his work has been showcased in Architectural Digest, Elle Décor, Interior Design, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and international publications, among them Residence (Shanghai), Vogue (Italy), and SchönerWohnen (Germany).