Making eco-friendly luxurious
There are two misconceptions that frequently complicate the common wisdom on environmental issues and an eco-friendly life. One, there is an assumption that the larger the corporation or government, the less likely it is to have any concerns about the environment and how current policy will affect the future state of the world – in fact, this misconception often goes so far as to assume hostility or evil intent on the part of larger companies and governments. Two, many people believe that in order for something to be environmentally friendly or ‘green’ it must be, in a word, ugly.
Energy Efficient and Beautiful
A refutation to both of these misconceptions can be found, conveniently enough, in a single location these days: The Coronation Festival held in Buckingham Palace in London. The Festival, hosted by The Royal Warrant Holders Association, celebrates craftsmanship and British industry, and is clear evidence that eco-friendly need not be ugly, and that governments do support the Green Movement beyond exhorting their citizens to buy energy saving products and perhaps plug in an EcoSwitch or two.
Permission to use the Queen’s, Duke of Edinburgh’s, or the Prince of Wales’ Coat of Arms (the royal warrant) is held by about 700 companies, with each warrant lasting 5 years. The Prince of Wales (Prince Charles, heir to the throne) has required that applicants for a Warrant demonstrate environmental sustainability and awareness for years, and recently the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh have adopted similar requirements. This means that within five years every company sporting a royal warrant will have met these minimum ‘green’ requirements for sustainability, energy savings, and recycled materials as applicable. This is clear evidence of a government using the simple power of its patronage to effect real change, as the royal warrant remains a highly desirable mark that companies will alter their practices to qualify for.
Just as important is the refutation of the concept that eco-friendly equals ugly or bland. Towards that point, designers Anna Burles and Jessica Gibbons have created the ‘Castle on the Loch’ bedroom fantasy on display at the festival to showcase their environmentally-friendly design. The gorgeous room is composed of furniture, materials, and decorations that are all qualified as sustainable, recyclable, or long-lasting in order to reduce waste. The amazing installation is a clear example of how a simple requirement by the British Royal Family can easily transform an entire industry – home decoration and design – and by extension all the vendors and suppliers that are associated with that industry. What high-end designer wouldn’t want a royal warrant on their work – or at least be able to honestly state they would qualify for one?
And the room is, from a design perspective, a smashing success. One easy solution the designers found for qualifying for the warrant was to simply use locally-sourced materials. By eliminating the energy-intensive and inefficient trucking and shipping of exotic materials, all materials become more sustainable by several orders of magnitude, and locally sourcing resources also allows for a better ability to judge sustainable practices by vendors and suppliers.
Local vendors are also part of the secret. The comfortable and stylish bedroom used all manner of local craftsmen for its creation, ranging from brass chains forged by warrant holders Abbey England, Britain’s last buckle foundry, and hand-bound journals created by bookbinders Barnard and Westwood. The bookbinding firm asserts that the paper in its books is made from local managed forests for total sustainability, and boasts that 90% of their waste products are in fact recycled.
The end result of such efforts is a stunning bedroom that even a Prince – or a future King – would feel comfortable in, all created without the dreaded cost of irreplaceable resources or irreparable damage to the environment from pollution.
The next step is for these practices and techniques to filter downward until your normal, everyday person can afford to hire an Eco-Friendly design firm (royal warrant optional) to work up their home bedrooms. That’s a process that will be handled in the ancient way: Pure economics of supply and demand. As people see this bedroom, they will want it in their own homes – and designers will have no choice but to figure out how to supply it!