Published on June 5th, 2012 | by Shanley Knox1
Q & A with Alison Causer: Green Interior Design in New York City
Alison currently resides in Brooklyn, New York and focuses on environmentally responsible work with interior spaces in New York City. You can imagine my excitement when Alison agreed to chat with me about green design, a topic that is just now finally coming to the forefront of the industry.
FGS: Tell me a little bit about your story – how did you enter into interior design in New York city?
Alison: I came to Brooklyn under the impression that I wanted to work in the boutique hospitality interior world. I got a few internships and jobs after being a part of that machine, I realized how much I missed working directly with clients. I love the relationship, the development of ideas and seeing people excited about their personal spaces. Working with humans is hard. We are such emotional people. I wanted to human connection. I needed it, I think.
Then I started working for a independent designer and realized that designing in NYC is achievable on a small level. Sometimes you get so overwhelmed by the idea of New York, it feels like you can’t be independent. But you can and I saw that first hand.
After that I started working on my internet presence and my own style. I really honing my craft and taste with a small blog. And I’m still working on this! It’s a never-ending process of learning and creating.
FGS: I know you have a particular commitment to using sustainable and ethically sourced materials - have you always been this way, or was there a shift towards sustainable design in your work? If so, what caused it?
Alison: Yes and no. I worked for a design build company a few years ago and in Middle America the “green” idea had/has a stigma, either too expensive or too “liberal hippy.” So I try to focus on the data instead of the trendy elements and slip in more options that were fair trade product or something earth friendly.
I never want people to feel obligated or feel I am pressuring them morally to be green/organic/fair trade. I want people to love the products, materials, and finishes. Sometimes I think the green washing has had a negative effect on people so it’s a balancing act.
The shift has come from traveling and then landing in Brooklyn. I decided it was an important way of life and that the rest of the world is ahead of America when it comes to conscious living.
FGS: How do you practically implement sustainability into your work?
Alison: When I work on a kitchen renovation I try to spec in low flow faucets, LED under cabinet lights, no / low voc paints. When I design a living room I suggest organic materials, vintage pieces, and that my client support an artist.
FGS: What are some of your favorite sustainable lines to work with?
Alison: I am currently in love with Cisco Brothers. Their furniture is made in Downtown LA. It’s beautiful, organic, classic, and it’s affordable. There are so many companies and artists out there, but I lately I am also loving Canvas and a textile designer in Brooklyn named Eskayel.
FGS: How do you implement sustainable material and design into projects involving remodels or renovations?
Alison: When I work on a kitchen renovation I try to spec in low flow faucets, LED under cabinets lights, no voc paints, induction cook tops, and energy efficient appliances as well as natural materials like stone or recycled tiles and countertops.
FGS: There are so many options out there for “green” design – how can we tell the difference between what is truly sustainable and what is not?
Alison: Keep an eye on the adhesive used in the construction of the pieces. Check the fabric is a natural material like organic cotton, linen, sisal or wool. Make sure the latex is used instead or other man made fibers. Check and see if the company has been certified from any 3rd party groups such as Fair-trade, Sustainable Furnishing Council or FSC.
FGS: How do you implement sustainability into your own living and working spaces?
Alison: We recycle. We try to eat organic and buy local as much as possible. My new thing is organic cotton linens and teeshirts. I looked around at our apartment recently and realized that 98% of our furniture is vintage, recycled or found art.
It’s more fun to make something new with an old piece!