Thinking back

After taking this course and covering everything that we have in class about sustainability through weekly readings, quizzes, Jeopardy! Game, Design Slams, the L.O.L.A. shows and discussions, I am amazed as to how it all fit into one semester! Man, time flies by when you’re having fun! Thinking back to the very beginning, I now realize how little insight I actually had in regards to what sustainability really means and how sustainable design can be implemented in my field of Interior Design. I was thinking “oh, sustainability is about being green, using LEED and recycling” but now I’m thinking outside the traditional “box” – by considering who is going to use it and how (Empathic Design) as well as a products lifecycle from start to finish (Cradle to Grave) to reduce our impact on our planet and limiting use of our valuable resources. So for me, it is about being conscientious of all of the aspects of sustainability because it’s more than an impact on our environment – it’s an impact on us as individuals and we are the key to maintaining a long-term availability of sustainable practices.

Biomimicry – my last epiphany – has to be, by far, my favorite topic that we’ve touched on during this short semester because when you think about it, nature is all around us and we imitate it in many products. How? Just look at a birds bone structure: hollow and light – these are the primary reasons they’re able to fly. Airplanes modeled this same structure in order to achieve the same result and now we can travel anywhere in the world! Nature is the most wholesome form of sustainability and should be (in my opinion) the model we use when creating products as nothing goes to waste. Everything has a purpose – from leaves to fruit as well as animals that depend upon such products are also parts of the “Waste = Food” concept. The biodegradable shoes Holly featured in one of the L.O.L.A. shows were a perfect example of the Cradle-to-Cradle theory and are specifically designed with nature in mind … how every product should be in order for us to have our current resources accessible to us in the future – yet something that was really frustrating to me because not everyone is willing to make the same simple changes towards a better future.

The last article we read was “The Sustainability Gap” which was really helpful to me because it showed how interdisciplinary sustainability can be in both the interior design field as well as apparel field due to the roles – or competencies we have to perform. Many aspects such as these are similar in nature, yet differently named, only further prove the link between our two fields despite the fact that one “creates clothing” and the other “creates furnishings”. Our in-class discussion helped bridge the gap, bring us all closer together and opened each of our eyes as to how vital it is to be knowledgeable on more than one area as no one person can specialize in all these diverse areas. Knowledge is the key to all aspects of sustainable design, but how you use it is how you make that change you want to see in the world.I have learned such a vast amount of information in the course of this fall semester – much of which I wasn’t aware of. It’s funny how all the answers are available to you if you just stop looking for one “right” answer and consider ALL the possibilities. Due to the fact that we were only able to focus on one topic every week I think that I would prefer to expand upon what I’ve learned in this class and become even better accustomed to them so I can share the things I know. This being said, I believe that some of the things I would like to dig deeper into and learn more about is a few of the sustainable products that are currently being created as well as used by various interior designers now. By doing this, I feel like I would be able to make a bigger difference in the products I recommend to friends or other clients and feel more confident about the decisions I make even though I’m confident in my understanding that I’d gained from this course. Though I am leaving this course with a bit of sadness but a new awareness – an awareness that one person can make a difference whether it be through their actions or by broadening your horizons. Dr. Armstrong, you have done both by making learning about sustainability as well as its concepts exciting, engaging and unique. Thank you for being that “one-of-a-kind” teacher that gets us out of our box / comfort zone and into the unknown.

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