Kermit the Frog says “It’s not easy being green,” and boy is he right. Sustainability is a hard concept to comprehend, communicate, practice, and maintain constant progress. Through these past several months, there have been theories and concepts learned by many students about sustainability. Some of these confusing to understand and some more interesting than others. The first day of class I was asked to define “sustainability” which in I reverted to thinking of the average go green, recycling, reclaimed wood, and world movements. To my surprise, sustainability is those things, but much more. If I can now describe sustainability it would be the movement and design for the betterment of the environment, spaces, and world in which people live and use in their daily lives that not only come from recycled materials, but keep a natural design and process through the development of the design. I started off this class as the West Texas Panhandle girl who walks out of my front door to see dirt and fields sweeping across the landscape until it meets the horizon. Recycling did not matter to me and the fact that someone would even try to make a home bases off solely solar energy was mind-blowing. Finally, I see what it means to be sustainable. It is not just about recycling plastics, bottles, clothing and more, but it’s what happens after that as well. In my first blog, I asked myself if I was ready for the challenge of becoming green, I think I just might be.
As I come upon graduation next semester, I think to myself that I will soon be the interior designer in the world creating new hotels, buildings, and homes that everyday people will use every day whether they are employed there, live there, or are visiting. This is the first chance that I have to put several of the concepts mentioned throughout the semester into good use. It’s time to design to make a difference. One of the most intriguing concepts I find quite amazing is biomimicry. This concept is a type of sustainable design that imitates or mocks the appearance of something in nature. I had learned about biomimicry two years ago when I was a sophomore, but back then I never was able to grasp the idea of it. As we dove into this subject for several weeks, it was easier to understand that this type of sustainable design can be developed further and into a stronger design than any others I believe. Just like the spider spinning a web, an architectural engineer can create a wall with the same look using trusses, glass and structural elements. The cells found inside a plant leaf have a specific structure that can be used to create walls and different types of interesting partitions and walls. This epiphany came to me that biomimicry is truly an outstanding concept that should be utilized more often. One architect that comes to mind that utilizes biomimicry in his buildings in Santiago Calatrava. Many of his designs resemble objects that are either of nature or are powered by nature. He might just be one of the most renowned architects, and I see that if this concept takes off more structures like his will be seen more and more all over the world.
Epiphanies are hard to come by so I may say that I did not have many throughout this semester; however, that does not mean that I did not find many things interesting. One for example, is the closed loop cycle. A system of either downcycling or upcycling that is created by taking the materials of one object at the end of its lifetime and reconstructing a new item with those same materials and the loop goes on and on. One example of the closed loop system that could also be combined with another theory, empathic design, is the Homeless Homes Project. This is the organization I chose to discuss in my L.O.L.A. show. Gregory Kloehn is an amazing man and artist that turns leftovers construction materials, old wood, salvage in the city dump into small mobile homes for the homeless. Not only does this show the closed loop system by taking materials from an old product and turning it into something new, but it also depicts empathic design. This section of sustainability really changed my heart. I have decided that one day, I hope to either help the organization Homeless Homes Project or create homeless homes just like he does as I grow older and have the materials to do so. I am someone who puts others first and empathic design is one concept that I hope I can implement into my designs in the future.
Coming into this class, I had no expectation of learning anything specific other than sustainability. Leaving this class, I know more than I would have every expected. Sustainability is not such a terrible thing after all, and it really makes a difference in the world and in the environment. I now believe that as I graduate and go out into the world to bring sustainability practices to front and center, but from all aspects. It should be implemented in every day interior design, but the price of sustainable design should also be reduced. I hope to make a different as I become a licensed interior designer, and all it takes is just a little bit of education and accepting the challenge.