Pure – high fashion furniture from Ami McKay

Next up in my round of beautiful and sustainable furniture meant to last a lifetime is Pure by Ami McKay.  Frustrated with the unfashionable sustainable furniture available, interior designer Ami McKay set off to remedy the situation.  She created Pure, a furniture company that focuses on products that are healthy to people and to the environment.  Her motto of “luxury without compromise” sounds just about right to me.

These are the sorts of materials they use to make these gorgeous pieces as green as possible:

  • Biodegradable natural latex rubber
  • FSC certified hardwood frames
  • Organic cotton batting
  • Renewable jute & latex webbing
  • Non-toxic adhesives
  • OEKO-tex certified wool fabrics that use organic dyes
  • Renewable and sustainable Kirei grass and wheat boards
  • Hemp and bamboo

While the furniture shapes are beautiful unto themselves, I think the optional embroidery gives it an added touch of elegance.  There are lots more pieces on her website, so make sure you check it out.  The furniture comes from British Columbia, Canada, but fortunately for me and anyone else who lives on the east coast, it’s also available at the Green Depot in New York and a few other places.

The New Traditionalists

Now that I’ve shown you that green design and a chic home are not mutually exclusive, on to other topics.  While non-toxic materials and sustainably sourced products are absolutely essential, I believe that stemming the production of waste and the use of natural resources is even more important.  If you can buy furniture that will last for a lifetime, you’ll be reducing the amount of material sent to a landfill as well as helping to ensure that no more natural resources are used than are necessary.  Over the next few posts, I’ll be profiling a few amazing companies that got that part of the equation right.

The first company that I want to show you is called the New Traditionalists.  As if their name didn’t tell you enough, they’re committed to producing stylish furniture the old fashioned way.  They use hand rubbed finishes, hardwood construction, kiln dried frames and hand tied springs, all so they can build good quality furniture without toxic adhesives or fillers.  The woods they use are all from sustainably harvested forests and they only use non-toxic finishes.

While their pieces are pricey, their belief of buy well once means that their classic forms, modern colors, made to order furniture and impeccably crafted pieces will last for a lifetime.  Not only will you never have to replace one of their pieces ever again, you’ll never want to.  Personally I really like the understated and slightly masculine look of these pieces.  What do you think?


Lonny Magazine + Michelle Adam’s apartment

One of my new favorite magazines is the online periodical, Lonny Magazine.  It was co-founded by Michelle Adams, formerly of the now sadly closed Domino magazine and creator of Rubie Green, an eco-friendly line of fabrics and accessories.  Their current issue is dedicated to eco-chic products and projects.  While there are a lot of great articles and spaces in the issue, my favorite project by far is Michelle’s apartment.  She designed it with sustainability in mind, but without sacrificing anything in the way of style to achieve a fresh and elegant apartment.

Many of the fabrics she used are from Rubie Green, and are therefore made of organic cotton and printed with non-toxic inks.  Other touches include natural materials, no-VOC paints and wallpaper made from FSC certified pulp.  Michelle’s apartment is also filled with antique pieces and thrift store finds.  In my opinion this is one of the best and easiest ways to have an eco-friendly house.  When you buy a used item, you’re doing a double service to the environment, first by not using natural resources to create something new and second by saving that piece from ending up in a landfill.  Plus vintage pieces tend to have so much more character than new mass-market furniture.

You can read more about her chic apartment at Lonny Magazine’s website and read decor8’s interview with Michelle Adams.

Charity Works GreenHouse

Okay, so I realize that I missed the boat on this one by a few months (the show was from October 10-30, 2009), but I thought these designers did such a great job showing that green design can be beautiful and luxurious that I wanted to include it in my series of lovely and sustainable projects to aspire to.

The goal of the CharityWorks GreenHouse, located in McLean, Virginia, was to be a model for what a sustainable home can be.  The interior project was led by designer Barry Dixon and included 18 other interior designers each of whom was in charge of a different area in the house.  And these interior designers really did their homework!  The interiors feature so many different kinds of sustainable details that I couldn’t possibly cover it all in one post.  To name just a few: energy efficient appliances and lighting, recycled and re-purposed products, FSC certified wood, natural materials, low VOC finishes throughout and so much more.  I really love that the inside of this house looks fresh, comfortable and beautiful without necessarily looking green.

If you want to learn more about this amazing project, here are a few great links:

  • CharityWorks GreenHouse
  • Chesapeake Home did a great article about this house.
  • Traditional Home was an official sponsor and has posted a lot of the project on their website.  They also list sources for items used.
  • Apartment Therapy did a two part series on the house complete with pictures.

So without further ado, here is a picture


A Pretty Little hotel in Soho

Before I get into the nitty gritty of what makes something green and chic, I wanted to show you that not only is it important to live a beautiful and sustainable life, it’s absolutely possible!  Over the next couple of posts I’ll be showing wonderful green projects that we should all aspire to.

I’ve chosen this first hotel to highlight what I think is a perfect example of a chic green project that you wouldn’t necessarily know is green.  The Crosby Street Hotel opened last year in Soho, New York and is the seventh hotel and first US hotel for Firmdale Hotels.  This luxury boutique hotel chain is owned by Tim & Kit Kemp with all interiors designed by Kit.  Room prices aren’t cheap, but if the service is anything like their super cute Number Sixteen Hotel in Kensington, it’s definitely a nice treat.

In typical British fashion, the style of this hotel is quirky, fun and doesn’t take itself too seriously.  Interesting objects, bright punches of color and traditional furniture fill the hotel.  But what I love best about the design is that each of the 86 guestrooms is different.  It’s like they designed this luxury hotel as they would their own home.

How is this chic hotel green you say?  Well let me tell you.  Firmdale Hotels are looking towards certifying this hotel as LEED Gold, which is quite an achievement.  They recycled waste from the previous building, which if you live down that way, you may remember that it used to be a small parking garage.  There’s also an amazing movie of the transformation on their website that you can check out.  Other green qualities include: bike racks, energy efficient lighting, solar panels, zero and low VOC finishes and FSC certified wood.

One of the coolest green things I think they did was to install a roof garden, care of April Goode at Goode Green.  They plan to harvest food for the restaurant come this spring.  I might just need to make a trip over for dinner to check it out!

I personally love the quirky and bright British style.  I think it’s fun and fresh.  Besides, who really takes  themselves that seriously?  I know I don’t!  What do you think?

Here are a few more pictures of the hotel for you.  You can also check out some of their other room types on their website.


Pretty Little Intro

When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.  ~John Muir

Green design is not a fad.  In the (hopefully sooner rather than later) future, this will just be the way everything is done, without the necessity of labels such as “sustainable” or “eco.”  As an interior designer, I still see resistance to living an eco-friendly lifestyle and incorporating it into projects.  There is unfortunately the perception that green design is drab and unrefined.

I am here to show that green equals beauty, that you can have a chic and sustainable home and that you can still live a luxurious lifestyle without harming the world.  This blog contains my musings on beauty, sustainability and décor.  I’ll be showing chic projects, lovely furniture and gorgeous materials all from people and companies who have made a commitment to our planet.

If you like what you read, please leave a comment or add me to your feed.