As the fight against climate change continues, making the switch to sustainable sourcing and design practices is becoming increasingly imperative. Characterized by the concepts of recycling, reuse, and reduced energy consumption, green design is a response to the global market demand for a new kind of design industry that takes care of the planet with out compromising on form or function.
Here, we feature a host of Hudson Valley businesses—from architects to furniture designers and building suppliers—that are forwarding these initiatives through a more thoughtful approach to design. If you are in the process of integrating environmentally-conscious design into your home, whether designing a new house from the ground up, refinishing an interior, or furnishing an existing space, these 10 green innovators offer a variety of ways to support sustainability in design.
- Photo: Kim Markel
- Furniture designer and maker Kim Markel.
FN Furniture Inspired by the ingenuity and ethos of the Occupy Wall Street Movement, FN Furniture seeks to eliminate excess energy and resources through a distinctive construction process that exploits between 94 and 100 percent of single sheet of standard plywood for each expertly crafted, puzzle-like design. Launched in September 2017 and spearheaded by seasoned artist and woodworker Ken Landauer, FN Furniture's line of simple yet elegant interior furnishings include bar stools, cabinets, chaise lounges, credenzas, shelving, sofas, and chairs.
The signature style boasts a structure of neatly nested plywood parts cut with a CNC machine and finished with a UV-cured acrylic coating, which you can customize with laminated or lacquered color options. Beyond the pleasingly succinct, minimalist aesthetic, FN Furniture is crafted with comfort in mind. Each design is guided by yogic principles with angles, surfaces, and spaces working in tandem to support comfort and alignment. Landauer sands, edges, and joins each piece by hand and offers free delivery to any location within the Hudson Valley.
- The F2 plywood lounge chair designed by Ken Landauer, owner of FN Furniture. The chair was first produced for the Tang Museum in Saratoga Springs and uses only half a sheet of plywood.
Transforming the reclaimed pine wood from bygone bowling alley lanes into thoughtfully conceived fine furnishings, CounterEvolution elevates the notion of upcycling through its expansive eco-friendly offerings, which include tables, countertops, casegoods, beds, seating, shelving, and home accessories. All of their furniture is crafted in-house at the company's Kingston factory and can be seen on display at the company's two showrooms—one in Downtown Brooklyn and the other upstate, on Main Street in Catskill. Although they are chiefly composed of vintage heart pine, CounterEvolution's designs also incorporate other reclaimed and sustainable woods and are further distinguished by the exclusive use of environmentally-friendly stains, sealers, and topcoats.
Distinguished by a cool palette of cotton candy-colored designs that cleverly combine sustainability and style, Kim Markel transforms discarded plastics—including bottles, lunch trays, packaging, and eyeglasses—into intricately crafted iridescent furniture pieces. Based in Beacon, Markel's studio work includes handcrafting, molding, and curing collections of cabinets, chairs, tables, and mirrors. Prior to the launch of her first line in 2016, Markel's previous work in public policy at the city, state, and federal levels developed an inclination for minimizing waste while her experience working in a Hudson Valley foundry that fabricates works for artists such as Jeff Koons, Matthew Barney, and Frank Stella, allowed her to hone her own approach to making. Prominent partnerships include Eileen Fisher, Galeries Lafayette, and a recent collaboration with the beauty brand Glossier, for which Markel unveiled a new series of translucent furniture formed from the reclaimed plastic in the brand's pink-hued packaging empties.
- Photo: Kim Markel
- Kim Markel's set of furniture.
Culture+Commerce Project A venerable authority within the Hudson design scene, Culture+Commerce Project is committed to promoting the work of makers, designers, and architects throughout the Hudson Valley. With a background that ranges from curator to community organizer, creative director Sherry Jo Williams brings her expertise to the forefront of Culture+Commerce Project's offerings. Her distinguished aesthetic steers the sourcing of locally and ethically made furnishings and fine art. Sustaining a small carbon footprint, Culture+Commerce Project currently upholds a primarily virtual presence but can also be seen at pop-up design fairs throughout the Hudson Valley. Notable talents represented include Michael Tong—a Ghent-based artist and furniture designer who remakes functional art pieces out of broken and discarded household goods—as well as architect Dennis Wedlick who founded the Manhattan- and Hudson-based firm BarlisWedlick and is now committed to lending his expertise in passive house design to a local Habitat for Humanity initiative in Columbia County that develops affordable housing for the rural and farming workforce.
Richard Miller Architect
Architect and Hudson Valley native Richard Miller has operated his eponymous practice out of New Paltz since 1998, with an emphasis on environmentally responsible and green design principles. Specializing in the supply of sustainable design services for residential and commercial projects that encompass new construction, renovation, and historic rehabilitation, the firm's portfolio includes a multitude of prominent projects across the Northeast with noteworthy clients, including Dia:Beacon, Frida's Bakery and Cafe in Milton, and the Denizen Theatre in New Paltz.
Miller's design background includes more than a decade of experience working in New York City, including six years as a project architect at the premier preservation firm Beyer Blinder Belle, where he contributed to the rehabilitation of Grand Central Station. Miller was also a founding member of Network for Sustainable New York—an NGO focused on sustainable building and development—as well as a professor at Parsons School of Design. Such diverse and distinguished experiences lend themselves to the sustainable ethos that defines his architectural practice.
- Photo: Francois Coquerel
- The Hudson Company provided the reclaimed barn siding for this home in Millerton, designed by architect OlsonKundig and built by United Construction.