At Interior Design’s Residential Roundtable today, an intimate group of interior designers and manufacturers touched upon various ways social responsibility influences specification for high-end houses and multi-unit projects, particularly when working with younger generations who tend to prioritize sustainability. Interior Design’s Executive Editors Annie Block and Jen Renzi moderated the discussion, held at the magazine’s New York City headquarters.
“In these luxury projects, here needs to be a margin of responsibility that’s exercised,” says Noah Turkus, co-founder of Weiss Turkus Projects. He noted that strategic choices, such as specifying resilient materials and products with a low carbon footprint, can lead to wide-reaching change: “That’s the type of social responsibility that we can take on, which can have a deep impact, particularly if we’re doing this in multi-family units.” Most attendees in the area agreed, noting the importance of giving back to communities surrounding unique developments—melding the old and new—as well as making choices that benefit the environment.
Jobs that help those in need, and the planet, also entice talent that is new. “Our junior staff loves to get involved in social responsibility projects; there’s a energy that is really great comes from that,” claims Wayne Norbeck, co-founder of DXA studio, that currently is working on an initiative in Africa. “only like our projects that are high-end it’s very challenging to work in those situations, so we use it as a bridge to consultants it we might certainly not normally get to use, on the sustainability side for instance.”
While designers are uniquely positioned to generate a more sustainable future, getting clients and developers upon the same page remains a challenge, especially when eco-friendly choices come in a better expense. An solution is more client that is extensive, but even this isn’t always effective—in particular with older demographics who have most experience building and designing their homes, plus exposure inside a seemingly endless array of premium materials. When a developer or client is staunchly committed to a product or material, that it can be nearly impossible to get them to budge.
The good news? Residential design lends itself to working with a range of clients, including individual families and younger generations who tend to be more receptive to a designer’s suggestions. “I think this strategy of the residential room as a hotbed of experimentation where, in some cases, you do have opportunities to move design, enables us to think about how ideas hatched for one client’s private residence could be scalable in some shape or form for a broader populace,” claims Renzi. It’s clear in the residential sector is one where designers have immense opportunity to affect change, large and tiny.
But the 90-minute discussion hardly stopped there. Attendees lingered by the breakfast spread as the conversation was continued by them with Interior Design’s Editor in Chief Cindy Allen, whom stopped by inside say hello.