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Architects Dig Into Sustainable ‘Curiosities’ in Subscription-Based Box of New Green Design Products

Interiors + Sources’ Curios Box goes green with Hunter Douglas’ GreenScreen® Evolve™ roller shade fabric derived from recycled water bottles

Zoë Zellers

What does “going green” mean to you? For architects, developers, specifiers, manufacturers and end users, the definition of “sustainability” is constantly evolving as awareness continues to grow, and associated certifications and standard requirements change. But ultimately for today’s conscious consumers and manufacturers, sustainable design focuses on both a deeper philosophy and a transparent practice. 

It begins with manufacturers making a mindful choice to be resourceful in researching alternative processes and sustainable materials, while never compromising aesthetics. Likewise, it ends with educated consumers opting to reduce their own environmental and social impact by valuing and seeking out eco-friendly designs. This fall, Interiors + Sources magazine is celebrating innovative, sustainable design with its green-themed Curios Box. It’s a subscription-based sample box filled with the latest collections of sustainably-sourced interior design products from six manufacturers, and includes Hunter Douglas Architectural’s GreenScreen® Evolve™ roller shade fabric that’s actually derived from recycled water bottles.

“Now more than ever, manufacturers are focusing on the full lifecycle of the materials we use” Nick Chiaro, of Hunter Douglas

Through Interiors + Sources’ unique Curios box program, hundreds of architects and designers can learn about and experience the sustainable products firsthand. The boxes, whose contents remain a surprise until delivery, are mailed six times a year directly to subscribers at firms across the nation. But get in line, Curios already has a growing waitlist. Editor-in-chief Kadie Yale took to YouTube for a grand unveiling of September’s Green Box, which features a wide range of sustainable interior products from Hunter Douglas Architectural, Crossville Tile, Formica, MDC Wallcoverings, Prism by Arauco and Aspecta by Metroflor.

The editors wanted to spotlight a lineup of products “that did more than just look at sustainability, so we have a whole bunch of options here,” says Yale. I+S writes, “‘going-green’ doesn’t have to equate to sacrificing a good aesthetic. This goes doubly so for the commercial interior design industry where eco-conscious manufacturers have been at the fore of material innovation for the last few decades.”

Tucked into the box, Hunter Douglas’ Evolve™ roller shade fabric sample takes the form of a water droplet design, which Yale quips, “has honestly been the talk of our office.” The “super fun” droplet shape is a symbolic nod to the fabric’s origins Evolve is made from recycled plastic bottles and is a zero waste product. A complementing overlaid leaf design evokes the overall goal of sustainability behind the 100%, non-PVC warp knit polyester shade fabric.

Coupling regenerative design with elegant options for flexibility, Yale notes, “the great thing about this GreenScreen Evolve is that it’s 100% non-PVC, and it comes in nine colors with four openness factors, which means you can have it be more or less opaque. But the fun thing,” she adds, “is that for every yard that’s made, 14 recycled water bottles go into it.”

Evolve™ roller shade fabric, derived from recycled water bottles, “is a great way to be able to reuse [recycled water bottles] in a manner that actually does something for the interiors” Kadie Yale, of Interiors + Sources

The roller shade fabric is Cradle to Cradle Bronze and Greenguard Gold-Certified and contains a minimum of 78% Repreve® fibers made of 100% recycled post-industrial fiber and consumer plastic waste. Compared to producing virgin polyester, Repreve reduces water consumption by nearly 50%, energy consumption by more than 6%, and greenhouse gas emissions by over 34%.

Yale points out that America’s overconsumption of plastic packaging is concerning, and what’s more, “even if you do manage to recycle a water bottle, which most of the time people don’t remember, but if you do recycle it, the problem is that there are so many recycled water bottles that there aren’t enough places to put all of them and that’s a problem… So, this is a great way to be able to reuse them in a manner that actually does something for the interiors.”

According to BantheBottle.com, last year the average American used 167 disposable water bottles, yet only recycled 38 of those. Collectively, Americans consumed around 50 billion plastic water bottles last year but only recycled about 23% of these, wasting over 38 billion water bottles, worth more than $1 billion of plastic, in one year alone.

With a variety of color and openness options to suit different commercial interior needs, GreenScreen Evolve reduces glare, reflects light, and with improved outward visibility, it offers great views to surrounding landscapes by using a unique diamond knit pattern. The flame-resistant window shade fabric equips architects and designers with the ability to control and filter natural light through high performance design that’s rooted in a greater story of sustainability.

“The green Curios box is a smart way to introduce architects and designers to today’s most innovative, sustainably designed products that don’t compromise aesthetics. Now more than ever, manufacturers are focusing on the full lifecycle of the materials we use. The GreenScreen Evolve roller shade fabric made from recycled plastic bottles is a great example of using existing materials to create a unique, new design to help filter sunlight, while also reducing environmental waste,” says Nick Chiaro, Hunter Douglas’ sales manager.

Also included in this edition of the Curios box was MDC Wallcoverings, made of newspaper clippings that are woven together. Yale notes, “it’s a really fun way of recycling something that’s an everyday object… and of course all are different because they’re not standardized.”

The production process behind Aspecta by Metroflor’s flooring sample focuses on social justice. At NeoCon the company announced it earned the first-ever JUST label given to a Chinese manufacturing factory, an acknowledgement of its fair practices and treatment of employees. To achieve this status, the facility was assessed on factors including safety, diversity, worker benefits and community engagement.

“Sustainable design no longer simply means recycling the old to make new again; instead, companies are looking at the entire lifecycle of a product and looking into all the ways in which they impact the environment and local community from start to finish,” writes I+S. “From planting trees and reducing water consumption all the way to removing old fishing nets from the ocean, brands are finding unique ways in which to extend their carbon handprint rather than their carbon footprint.”

Crossville Tile’s Retro Active 2.0 sustainable porcelain tile holds three Living Product Challenge certifications, from the International Living Future Institute. The non-toxic material’s color is saturated all the way through the product so that even if the tile chips, there won’t be an unwanted layer of white underneath. Meanwhile Prism by Arauco, a thermally fused laminate, brings a naturally antimicrobial finish and wood look to surfacing materials, an ideal option for particularly health-sensitive settings.

Available in rich textures and colors, Formica’s deCOLeatheraddresses consumers’ anxiety over using real leather and concerns over chemicals used to process artificial leather. The box’s sample swatch is “actually made out of 70% pulverized leather, which is pre-consumer,” Yale explains. “It comes from places like shoe manufacturers, car manufacturers and other tanneries. All of that extra leather that isn’t used gets pulverized and it’s then put into this product” which “also withstands wear and tear more than traditional leathers do.”

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