Green By Design Podcast Episode 005: Eco Design Expert Rachelle Padgett

Updated: Jun 21







Rachelle Padgett, Eco Interior Designer, Event Planner and Healthy Home Consultant

In my quest to find other green designers, I came across Rachelle who was lovely and willing to connect. We chat about Rachelle's journey and her deep expertise in the world of green interior design. Check out the video or the transcript below.

" Erica:

You just tuned in to the green by design podcast, which must mean you're an interior designer, decorator home stager furnishings maker, or maybe just a fan of going green inside. So regardless of who you are, thank you for tuning in today. The goal of this podcast is to help the interior design professionals and industry as a whole go green through education, discussion and connection. I am your host, Erica Reiner from eco method interiors and today's guest is Rachelle Patchett. And I am going to tell you a little bit about her right now. So Rachelle is an Oakland based interior designer, a green materials consultant and educator. She established synthesis interiors and color in 2007 to bring eco-friendly interior design to a wide range of clientele in 2018. She co-founded the green materialists with Katie bachelor from healthy building science together. They take a deep dive into conscientious sourcing, specifying safe alternatives to conventional building materials that meet the highest standards for their health, environmental, and social impacts, which I'll also teaches a course on interior finishes and materials in the interior design and interior architecture program at her design Alma mater, UC Berkeley extension, where she is happily subverting the standard curriculum to teach from the perspective of sustainability.

Erica:

She volunteers as outreach coordinator with the West Berkeley design loop, promoting the East based bounty. I've designed resources when she's not working, you can find her on a hiking trail, yoga mat or dancing to live music. So let's welcome Michelle and say, thank you so much for coming on and talking with me today. Thank you so much, Erica, for having me. Yeah. It's a pleasure to have you, so I'll just tell anyone, listening that I reached out to you after doing some research about other green designers in the state of California, which I have gone into in another episode where it's just my self talking a little bit about my background and then how I progressed into the Greenfield and then looking for other people. And so you were the, one of the best things that came out of that. I don't know. I have a trick to you onto being on this show with me.

Erica:

It was so happy to hear from you that day. I got your email on this subject line said be my friends. Yeah, that's right. And ever since we have been sort of bouncing ideas off of wanting one another, just talking shop and trying to figure out the wild West of green interior design as it is a pretty new concept in terms of this industry as a whole, which sort of a new industry and human history in itself. So it's good to have a partner in crime and it's good to see everything that you're up to. And I think it will be invaluable for other designers who want to go green or incorporate green practices to hear your story and how you're doing things. So it was like, luckily you said yes, very quickly, but it was like one of my goals to have you on. So with that said, I'd love for you to just share a little bit about your background and what you are doing now and how you sort of got, got there. What was your windy path?

Rachelle:

Thank you. I guess it's definitely a windy path. So like I think many designers and many creatives, my story starts when I was very young. I grew up in Virginia and I was always obsessed with rainbows. It was obsessed with rainbow bright, rainbow, everything. My mom and I spent pretty much a whole spring break week, one time painting the ceiling of my bedroom, like a sky, the clouds and constellations. And so I I grew up in a family of engineers and architects, and I think that the synthesis of those skillsets really kind of trickled down to create, you know, the, the wide variety of aptitudes that interior designers have to hold. And some memories that I think were really instrumental and kind of putting me on this path where when I was growing up, we used to go for bike rides around the neighborhood pretty much every evening after dinner.

Rachelle:

And it was 1980s. So that was when you could still get away with just like wandering into a house. There's a lot of construction in the back of our, any of our heads. So you could just wander into a house that was under construction and nobody would call the police. So I remember standing there with my dad, who's an engineer and he would point out, okay, you can see that plumbing stub over there. You can see where this wall is going on. Then based on that information, we can tell that this is where the kitchen is going to be, and that's where the sink will be in here's the refrigerator. So I think that that was really a part of how I learned to visualize I'm in three-dimensional space and how I learned to kind of create mentally from very little so. And the, my mom being a science teacher and my parents being very outdoorsy.

Rachelle:

It really kind of instilled in me a great love of science and a great love of all things in the natural world. So that's really kind of the foundation. And then fast forward to college. I happen to date an architecture student my last year at the university of Virginia. And he happened to be advised in his department by William McDonough who wrote cradle to cradle, which is the framework for sustainability. That's still used today. And his senior project was to design a mobile live workspace and the shipping container. And they were only to use reclaimed and recycled materials. And mind you, this says 19, let's see, this is 2000. So that was before shipping container housing was a thing. People thought it was completely nuts, but also really cool. So I got to spend a lot of time in the architecture student, in the architecture studio with him.

Rachelle:

And we went to a really cool workshop in DC that year at the national building museum called 10 shades of green. That was actually all about green building. And that was in 2000 or 2001. So all those little pieces kind of, you know, started to fall into place. After I moved to California at the end of school in 2001 and was working in environmental nonprofit and trying to figure out what my next move was. And over the course of the first couple of years here, I had the opportunity to have a couple of really impactful internships. One was at the center for environmental health. I got to, at that point testify in front of the, let's say, I believe it was San Francisco city council in support of an European union measure called reach and reach is basically a piece of legislation that is based on the precautionary principle, which says that the burden of proof that a product or chemical is safe, needs to be on the manufacturer.

Rachelle:

And I'm a consumer. And unfortunately, what we're working with right now is a world where there are 84,000 chemicals on the market, 84,000 chemicals. Very few of them have actually been tested for safety. And the burden is on the consumer to if there's an adverse reaction or if something goes really terribly wrong and there's a lawsuit, then the con the company, the chemical company will respond, but not until then. And that's a really horrific system or lack of system. So you know, through that experience that the center for environmental health and a lot of other colleagues and workshops that I was exposed to I decided that knowing that I really wanted to do something creative and kind of coming again with those aptitudes and exposure to both design, as well as science, I knew that I wanted to go back to school for interior design. So I went to UC Berkeley extension through the interior design and interior architecture department, and that's where I now teach. And then I, somewhere along there founded my own practice. So not maybe as mattering a path now that I kind of lay it all out, but there's, there's definitely some, some distinct points to it that have added up. Then when I look back on it, it makes a whole lot of sense that this is what I'm doing now.

Erica:

Totally. Yeah. I would say that, like you are one of the rare finds that kind of was introduced to this concept of green building green living at the beginning ish of their career. Like, I think you were working and had done some internships and done a little bit of other stuff before the parlay into design and your business, but really you caught it in there pretty early, which is very, you know, props to you, which was very like early adopter, very Northern California. You were just great.

Rachelle:

I think it's interesting because I come to interior design from the perspective of sustainability and environmental nonprofit and environmental health. And I don't know that I've ever met anybody else except for you. So, yeah,

Erica:

Well, yeah. I mean, well, by the time this is published, you'll listen to all the other episodes and meet a few more folks that are like us, which is cool, because I think everyone brings a different perspective, a different tip or a different approach to the work that hopefully other people in the industry can hear similar threads throughout, but then the different things or ways we might look at things, which was great. So, yeah, so you clearly have a very established experience and wealth of knowledge and green living and building. And so now with your own practice and then, and then onto the next step, even which is your work with the green material less, do you want to tell us a teeny bit about that?

Rachelle:

So I have always been a designer who feels more comfortable with people who are working kind of at this nexus of environmentalism and the built environment rather than you know, the design center, nothing against that world, but that's just not where I've come from. And so I've really tried to keep one foot in this community. It's a very tight knit community in the East Bay a very deep green thinkers and architects, builders, contractors. And so there's a group that for the last many years has put on an annual or every other year conference called rebound. I'm sorry. It was originally called build well, it's been switched to cloud to be called rebuild since the the fires, the Northern conference. But it was called build well. And it was basically a really high level, very, very nerdy, deep green materials, science symposium.

Rachelle:

So very small conference of all of these folks that have known each other for many years. And so through that work or through that conference, I met Katie and at the time she was working for a company called healthy building science that does environmental inspections of homes, and we hit it off, became very close friends, became colleagues. And a couple of years later, the opportunity presented itself for us to partners. So it feels like a very natural partnership. And our skill sets are very much aligned, but she has more of the science and research background. And so she's able to take an even deeper dive into what I've already been offering in the way of eco-friendly design. And she can look at things like drywall, framing, lumber, insulation. She can really get down to the details of if we're working with a client that has a known chemical sensitivity, she can evaluate say the three products that are in the market that are advertised as eco-friendly or healthier and figure out which one the client is least likely to react to. So it's really, really digging deep into conscientious sourcing and working with highly sensitive populations. So people who have autoimmune disorders, women who are pregnant people with young children, but all of that said, we think that everybody should be concerned, not just those who are highly sensitive,

Erica:

Very well said. So normally at this point I would ask the guest, why is eco-friendly or green design important to you? Because normally in the story it's like, well, I was doing the design work and then I had the epiphany about how either wasteful or toxic or XYZ it is. And so I wanted to incorporate green practices, but since you've kind of had the environmental background with a little bit of work, similarly to me, how did you, what I want to ask is how did you incorporate that into your business as you were starting your business? Did you just start and like promote yourself as an interior designer or did you right off the bat promote, but you were environmentally conscious. Did you promote yourself as an expert in something green or what was that like in terms of advertising and, and talking to clientele and bringing in ideal clientele?

Rachelle:

So I have always marketed myself as an eco-friendly interior designer. It's funny. I remember when I was first starting my business and designing business cards, doing a poll of my friends to figure out to, we use the word eco-friendly, do we say sustainable? Do we use what resonates? And as we've both found out eco-friendly is the one that resonates with most people. And so this was also back in 2007 or so when green was really in the mainstream and all aspects, not just interior design, but of course, you know, the cover of time magazine and Newsweek, everybody talking about ways to go green ways to lead a life that was more environmentally conscious. So at that point, I think it was very easy because it was all a buzz. I hate to say that it was a trend, but it was definitely talked about more broadly than I feel it is at the moment. So at the time, yeah, it was very easy, like the awakening of

Erica:

American consciousness.

Rachelle:

And so I feel like at the time it was super easy to just kind of put myself out there as this is what I do, and this is really all I do.

Erica:

Right. Okay. And then, so that means you have seen a little bit of a drop off and then maybe hopefully arise again in the, in the collective consciousness.

Rachelle:

Yeah. I'd say that part of that job of is due to a lot of and this applies more to commercial design, but a lot of standards and being adopted into the building codes. So they're required. I think unfortunately there is a bit of a problem with people assuming that, because there was this sort of, I don't know, we can call it a green swell back in the mid to late two thousands. That all of that is kind of done and everything that's on the market is eco-friendly. And there are certainly many, many more options. I mean, when I started this work, I worked very, very closely with the green design showroom here called equal home improvement. In fact, I worked in house as our all purpose showroom designer. Back when I was first getting off the ground. And at the time, you know, they had one line of cabinetry and a couple lines of flooring and one brand of countertops.

Rachelle:

And that was that it's been so heartening and so wonderful to see the offerings grow and to see how many manufacturers are really, really getting on board. So yeah, I think there's been a bit of an ebb and flow in terms of people's understanding of what is necessary, what's available, what's already happening. And what I've found to be the biggest shift is that 10 or 12 years ago, and it was Jane this, the conversations I was having were more around like the big picture of the environmental impacts or, you know, the mining, the resources, the extraction, the shipping, et cetera. People are really interested in that conversation and now it's turned much more to the personal, to indoor air quality to human health. People are concerned. I mean, people are always concerned about themselves first and then the bigger picture. But I'm finding that that conversation is really the best place to start is talking about the impact of literally this is what you're breathing.

Erica:

Yes. And I have found the exact same thing. In both when I was lecturing at colleges before I started my business, sort of at the same time. And in exclusively in this work, you can really onboard someone into this concept of wellness, holistic design and environmental advocacy or stewardship in general, when you start with something very personal and that's kind of how education works anyway. So you kind of have to start with something they know and understand and is tangible. And so that's usually the easiest way to relay information and the easiest barrier to entry and the easiest way to brand or market yourself or help people understand what you do is I starting from a health oriented point of view. I think also now with the amount of information we have and just how exposed we are to, to knowledge and seeing the sort of detrimental things that can happen from whatever you want to choose, that really impact us. There's a bigger awareness now and a bigger concern about health and exposure than ever before, because of this sharing of information from experts, not just in the interior design industry, but kind of all throughout that. I think people are now like going, Oh, like I better safeguard myself against whatever it is, including in my home, which is a good thing. It's a great thing. It's a good place to start, I think.

Rachelle:

Great. And one thing that I've been that has really driven this home and the need for this work on multiple levels has been all of the fires in Northern California. I'm in, I'm in the Bay area and last fall for the last two falls, but particularly last fall when paradise was burning to the ground you know, the Bay area was completely choked with smoke. We couldn't go outside for almost two weeks. And so you breathe what you built. And so we're building with toxic materials. Then we are breathing toxic materials, not just in a catastrophic event, like a fire, but in daily life. And I think that people are really starting to understand that, that there's so many considerations when you're bringing something into your home, that you're in intimate contact with, whether it's what you're sleeping on, what you're putting on your walls, if you're painting what you're walking across, but your kids are crawling on. And you know, the government is not protecting you and we have to do that for ourselves to protect ourselves. Absolutely.

Erica:

And I think all of California really got that message because last year, two years ago, there was very bad fires in Santa Barbara County, which there has been before. And then last year we had a thousand Oaks in Malibu area here in Los Angeles. And at the same time in orange County as well, where I grew up. So the whole state is on fire sometimes. And although it's different parts at different times and, and locally, you will hear the rumblings of that kind of content and conversations. And I was at like a Surfrider foundation meeting once after the Valley fires here. And we, that was one of the things that had come up and like, you know, stay out of the water because think of all the things that people have in their homes and garages and toxicity, that's now washing and washing into the ocean, which is right there. So airborne, waterborne, all of that. Okay. So what I want to know next from you, I would say, what does green or eco-friendly interior design look like in your practice that, that might give other designers a little bit of a clue how to incorporate it for themselves? Or you could also think of this as like, what are your top three ways that are really great and tangible to go green when you are designing, are working in a space?

Rachelle:

Sure. I like to start and think about the things that are most accessible and most affordable and that have the biggest impact on protecting your indoor air quality. One of them is greening your applied products. And so that term refers to anything from paint, stain, sealers, polyurethane, adhesives. So paint is the biggest one because it's the most likely, you know, that you would be using as the DIY product. Thankfully, over the last many years, there has been a shift and all of the major manufacturers are now producing healthier paints. The chemicals that we're concerned about are called VOC, which stands for volatile organic compounds, and basically that refers to the stuff and paint that makes it smell characteristically, like paint. And as the as the paint dries that off gases VSCs are you know, off gas into the air and that's not something that we want to be breathing.

Rachelle:

So there are healthy alternatives they're readily available. They cost the same, or sometimes even less than their conventional counterparts. And so again, that applies to paint. It applies to if you're refinishing and all of wood table to any sealer or stain polyurethane that you might be using. And so those are really easy things to swap out. And then if you want to take it a step further, there's some really great products like clay based paints that are totally natural. So that's something that I really like to recommend that people explore. I always try to start avenging a decorating project by looking at, or any type of project, really looking at what we can save. So I don't necessarily go into a project and ascend the Irvine to get rid of everything that we're going to blow everything apart. I'll walk in and say, well, what can we possibly reuse?

Rachelle:

Do the cabinets really need to be replaced? Can they be very fast? Can they be repented? What can be repurposed? What can be, you know, refinished, recovered, reconsidered, all of the rewords are really applicable here. And then to move from there, shopping vintage shopping used as a place to start, particularly with those wood furnishings because newer wood furnishings they're often made from engineered wood products that have a lot of glues and a lot of adhesives on them that again, have things on them that we don't want to be breathing namely from the height. So yeah, the wet applied products, the paint wood products looking at vintage and used items. And then this is also really important to me supporting the local economy by purchasing from local artists and playing craftspeople, finding out, say, if you need something made, can we have a local carpenter make it, you know, at a reasonable or a comparable cost? So really supporting your local community by providing work, providing jobs, and then really knowing where those materials are being sourced from, because you have the opportunity as a designer and as a client to specify them, I'm concerned about, about X, Y, and Z. Let's use this type of wood, this type of paint. And you know, so it's a win for everybody.

Erica:

I would say, when you, when you categorize, when you put those three things under the accessible, affordable category, those would have been my top three as well. I couldn't agree with you more so I'll and with the wet applied, that's also like a lot of surface area. So that's kind of like a lot of bang for your buck as well. When you consider it's all of your walls, probably all of your ceiling. And then if you're refinishing a floor or laying floor, whether it's adhesive or just a finish on top or a wax on top, that's so much surface area. So like literally just the square footage wise that's a great way to go. And there's like crazy innovations coming out with paint these days. So it kind of started off with low EFC and then it went to no VOC. And then there was always a old-fashioned milk pizza.

Erica:

And now there, we're having more accessibility to like the clay and mineral paints. And now I think it's term Sherwin-Williams came out with a product that supposedly is actually reabsorbing carbon dioxide from the air. But I will caveat that with the fact that they won't release any of their technology or like anything to back their claims. So I don't like recommend that yet, but it's interesting to see the progression and there's, we're definitely seeing some through what's that called a through thread, a thread through, through some of the designers coming on here and talking about buying things that are pre loved, used vintage, you know, picking one of those, depending on your client style, whether it's actual vintage or whether it is just something that has already, that's very contemporary, but has already been used for another application and someone doesn't need it anymore.

Erica:

For whatever reason with between social media apps and the wonderful world of the internet, you can get anything, even if it's like brand new, but someone has to get rid of it for some reason. So being able to save Virgin resources, being able to save shipping from overseas on your carbon footprint, being able to save energy and water and new production of things for anything that's already used or pre loved or vintage is so helpful and something that I've heard over and over again. And then also that same through line. I got it line for buying local. That seems to be important to people again for the carbon reduction and the socio economic benefit of supporting local makers, smaller makers, smaller artisans, local artisans, or local economy that kind of is broad brush strokes of awesomeness just like wins everywhere. So those are all really great tips. And I would say, if you want to know, if anyone wants to know more about that, they are Bolcom to ask either of us. I'm sure we, either of us would be happy to answer more on that.

Rachelle:

The other thing I want to throw in there is that plants do a wonderful job of taking toxins out of the air. So you can do, if you do a Google search for plants that purify air, there's a bunch of articles that pop up and a lot of them are very user-friendly. So even if you have a Brown thumb, you can usually handle

Erica:

This little guy. Can we see it? This is another one I recorded. I only have Ivy throughout my house cause it's the only thing I can keep alive. I have killed cactuses and succulents. Those are kind of lower on the filtration quality, right.

Rachelle:

Ivs, really very high. Oh good.

Erica:

But yeah, I am unfortunately as an environmentalist in someone who has played with landscape design and just biophilic design, I am unfortunately a very black person but I can keep Ivy alive, which is great. Anyone which means anyone can. So yeah, that's, that's another great piece of advice as well as incorporating greenery, which by the way, is also healthy for you mentally in terms of mood boosting and stress reduction, interests, making people happy, people, people like plants. So putting them wherever you can is always a good idea. And as far as looking at what ones to choose the article, I like the best on this because there are so many people writing about this. Now the article I like the best is I think it's a list of the plants that NASA used to take up into their spacecraft to help with air filtration.

Erica:

And so just do a Google search with that. I think you should, I think we should be able to find it, but that's a good one. It's like, yeah, well, if NASA study that we're well, we can take their advice. So I kind of just refer that everyone to that one. Okay. So you are in a unique position where, where you have more experience than the rest of us in that you who have been on to date and that you have started your business a little bit earlier and it from the get, go as purely an eco-friendly designer, because I did not, I definitely have to figure that out as I went along and decided to go whole hog on niching and branding and sharing that with my clients and attracting those clients. So that said you have a unique perspective on what kind of positive green changes you have seen along the way. I think you already touched on how many more suppliers and makers and vendors are now on the market. Like that showroom. That was just like the one maker with the three different colors and provided a very key visual for me in my head when you told that, but any other changes or you can elaborate on that more in terms of positive things we're seeing in the industry. Yeah.

Rachelle:

A lot more options. I think there's a lot more affordable options. The best example that I can that comes to mind is when I first, when eco home improvement, the green showroom in Berkeley first opened 12 or so years ago, and they only had that one line of cabinetry and that one type of recycled glass countertop, but et cetera, the cabinets were so expensive. It was, it was super custom and adjust. You know, if you're going to like a local cabinet maker, that's on the higher end, then they might've been comparable. But for a lot of people, it was really out of reach. And over the years both when I was coming in just as a student, as a young professional as just like a general, Hey guys, what's new loiter, which I did.

Rachelle:

And then when I got to work there and since I've worked there and continue to partner with them very closely they have worked so hard to find other manufacturers and other lines and consistently brought the price down. And now they have a product called mod cabinetry. That's wonderful. That is absolutely cost competitive with, you know, big box, mid range. They have a couple of different price points within the line. They even have one that, you know, is cost competitive with what we would call like a builder Lennar builder, grade of cabinets. And they have worked the owners of eco hombre. I've really worked tirelessly to make that happen, but there had to be enough demand for it, for these manufacturers to be willing to partner with eco home, to say, okay, let's figure out how to make this possible. So that again is very, it's very good news that it says that there is enough demand. And that now there is a supply to meet that.

Erica:

Yeah. And the fact that it's becoming more affordable, which means the general awareness is growing and being able to pull down that cost of production for all of us. So thank you to everyone who ever bought sustainable cabinet tree before. It was cool. That helped us all. So actually I do want to know what do you, let's get into the details a little bit on that because you have an expertise in kitchens and or is it primarily kitchens? Tell us well,

Rachelle:

Kitchens, the bathrooms, what I do.

Erica:

So in that woodworking and cabinetry, which is such a significant part of those rooms and storage, what kind of materials are you seeing if it is not engineered or MDF, or maybe it is, but it's different kind or what is it you're seeing in the materials? That's making it a bit better of a better.

Rachelle:

So the biggest concern with engineered wood products and engineered wood products to back up a little bit include particle board, which is what you might be familiar with. If you've ever put together an Ikea bookcase, it's very kind of fluffy and loose. And then there is a MDF which is medium density fiberboard. So that's a very dense, very hard, very heavy for its size, what product that has a lot of dimensional stability to it and plywood. And so those are kind of particle board, MDF and pilot are the three engineered products that most, everything is made out of including furnishings these days. And so they all have a lot of glue, as you might imagine, particles little bits of literally wood dust or bigger bits of wood dust or, you know, and of scraps. Plywood is made of like bigger sort of shredded bits of wood, but all of that has to be held together with glue and the conventional glues that have been holding those bits and pieces of wood together have a lot of formaldehyde in them.

Rachelle:

And formaldehyde is a known carcinogen because it's respiratory irritation causes headaches, nausea, and that's kind of on the lower end of things, but it can lead to much more serious health problems. So the alternative to conventional engineered wood products is to look for what products that are designated and AI for no added formaldehyde. The designation used to be an AUMF, which is no added urea formaldehyde. So without getting into the why's of that, I'll just say that you might still see both of those terms floating around, but what that means is that the that you have a healthier product, that it doesn't have those chemicals of concern in it. And so the cabinet line, like I mentioned from our cabinetry from eco home improvement is only using pilot only using MDF that they don't use particle board, but they're only using those wood products that, that are free of that category of chemicals. And then you also want to look for wood products that had been finished with those wet applied products that I already referred to that are the lower zero VOC products. And so those things are really becoming more and more readily available. They definitely take somebody like you or I to guide a client as to where to find them, or they take a bit of know-how on the consumer's part to know the right questions to ask, but they're out there. And so that's really exciting.

Erica:

That is exciting. Have you seen enter the kitchen zone yet? Anything that has been just pressure compressed, so fairly adhesive free, and I'll give you an example here in a non kitchen setting. So in a setting where you are either making, let's see here, maybe countertops at a dry bar, or maybe you are making tables and then where I've seen it a lot is as wall panels, sort of like an architectural design element that has a little bit of functionality as well. So like whether it is purely just artistic and wall panels hanging on the wall or whether they are on the wall and then drilled into for further structural use. I have seen some particle boards from agriculture waste that have been compressed together. And I believe I have seen some come onto the market that are just pressure compacted. Is there anything like that in the kitchen world? And yet

Rachelle:

I'm not familiar with any product that doesn't need some sort of binder or he said to hold it together, but the good news is that there are glues and adhesives that don't have to contain all of that junk that we don't want. So that's what, yeah, that's what I look for. Yeah. Yeah. I mean, in terms of, of what products are mostly being used in the kitchens, the court's countertops of course, is what most, at least on the West coast most everybody is asking for. And I would consider a, court's kind of a light green product in terms of sustainability. It is a mind product. But the mining of course is much less impactful than the mining of something like a solid slab of stone, the granite or like marble. So that's a really nice alternative, but what other categories of projects do you want to know about?

Erica:

How about I'll, I'll give it back to you and say dealers choices or anything that we haven't covered that you're excited about, that you want us to know about in terms of either your processes, a green designer, or in terms of fun products and materials that you want us to be aware of.

Rachelle:

So I would love to see more of a return to natural building materials. And what I mean by that is, you know, wool, cotton has natural building techniques like straw bale and earth plaster. There's so much value. And going back to things like recycled plastic, I don't even know if that's a term that technology fabrics, but we'll go there.

Erica:

Ooh, it sounds, I believed it.

Rachelle:

Fabrics made of recycled plastic soda bottles and that's, that's fantastic. And all of those things take a lot of embodied energy to divert from the waste stream to clean, to process, to turn goop, to turn into fabric. So I think really just going, like I said, going back to the earth, using what we can grow minimally with little to no pesticides and, and like doing things the way they've been done and not having, I think part of working with natural materials is aligning our client's expectations of their performance with reality. And I think that's the trick is with these like high-performing technology fabrics, for example, people have an expectation of standards instance. They have a certain expectation of durability. And when you're working with natural materials, it's really hard to achieve those levels of performance without having to go back and add a bunch of synthetic whatever treatment to it. So if we can kind of work with consumers to you kind of realign their expectations of a material to what their grandparents or their great-grandparents might've expected, then I think we can, we can move more in that direction. And I think that's the way to go.

Erica:

Right. And I would almost even, let's see if we agree on this. I was going to say, I would almost even argue, it's not a question of durability, but maybe of care. So we always hear that expression. It's not made like it's used to be. And sometimes we find things from 50 or a hundred years ago, or so that seemed to be made really solidly from either a solid wood product or really great fabric, linen fabric or really great leather that was vegetable dyed tanned, or whatever it might be less plastic, maybe more metal, things like that. So I would argue that natural materials are quite durable, but that we now treat things quite differently because we're used to a what's that word throw away bubble.

Rachelle:

Yeah. Every people don't have the expectation that their kitchen is going to be around for more than 10 or 15 years and they treated us.

Erica:

Right. So we have a very like convenience oriented society. We have single use type of society. And so I think even in our thoughts in our homes yeah. Whether we think we're might be moving in five years or whether we think we want to renovate and 10 years or whatever it might be. I think that if we go back to, like, you're saying these natural materials, it's sustainably harvested things, things that are place-based that have been used in certain climates and wood would do well to be used again, they will last as long as we remember what they are and how to care for them. Instead of assuming everything is a, everything is removable fixable throw away table and kind of like my philosophy on clothes these days. So I kind of had like this minimalist epiphany, even though I'm not like quite as severe as other people, I used to be guilty of all of these same things, but in a different industry.

Erica:

Right. So in the fashion industry and sort of before I was educated enough in that world, and frankly, it was just, I felt that I was very budget constrained and I had to use fast fashion and I would instantly ruin something or would shrink or would XYZ, or I would just buy it because it was cheap and like hope that I would wear it not anymore. So now I would rather pay more for a single item that was really well made or made from a sustainable fashion company that is going to cost more and have less, and literally not bring anything in that I don't love and that I don't need, and that isn't grieving in some way. And so it kind of took, even for me, someone who's been studying this stuff and teaching this stuff for ever to kind of have that epiphany in one aspect of my own life.

Erica:

And so I can definitely understand it as I ask my own clients and other designers in the industry at large to to think that way about this industry. And that is really the impetus for this podcast is because I think we're starting to see that now. So all all to say, I kind of get it. I think I understand the mindset. Okay. Well, would say if there's nothing else that you want to share with us. Oh, I do want to know what's coming up for you on the horizon. Is there anything new you're going to be getting up to that we should know about anything exciting you're getting into?

Rachelle:

I have been working on this octopus, mosaic, which I know you've seen it on Facebook. I think I've had a long-term client who is remodeling her daughter's bathroom and we've partnered with a really incredibly talented mosaic tile artist. And we're designing like a big octopus. It's going to come out. It's going to have tentacles, like reaching out of the bathroom or reaching out of the shower, surround for the vanity. And that was a project that isn't done in the works for quite a long time. And I have a tendency if, especially if I'm really comfortable with the client, if I've known them for a while too in brainstorming and kind of throw out a random idea or something that's totally wacky and just see if it sticks and how it lands. And more often than not, they say, okay, so years ago I said, you know, we're talking about what kind of tile she might want for this project. And I said, how about an octopus? Like how about this giant creature kind of coming down from the ceiling and reaching out? And she's like, cool. It took a while to find the right person to do it. But that's been a really fun process to like, got to understand

Erica:

The artistic process, which is, you know, it's designed, but it's a little bit different and really kind of work hand in hand with her and select all the colors and all the different little bits and pieces of glass. And so that's a super fun piece of art and yeah, it probably won't be done until after the new year, but I'm really excited to have that to show well, that is so fun. Thank you for sharing that. And I will lastly ask where is one place? Our listeners can find you the green materialist.com. Great, perfect. I'm sure everyone who ever gets stuck in doing some materials research, which has happened to me and which has happened to hopefully any designer that has been asked to go the green route will come to you and say, please help us. So it sounds like that's something that you are open to for projects, whether it's from an architect or another designer wanting to bring you guys in for a consultation or for some research, it sounds like it's right up your alley. Absolutely. I thank you. Yeah. Thank you for taking time out of your busy day, I will let you get back to designing octopi and and yeah, just thank you so much for coming on and

Rachelle:

Talking shop. Great. Thanks so much. Take care.

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