At Interior Design’s Residential Roundtable today, an intimate group of designers and manufacturers touched on various ways social responsibility influences specification for high-end homes and multi-unit projects, particularly when working with younger generations who tend to prioritize sustainability. Interior Design’s Executive Editors Annie Block and Jen Renzi moderated the discussion, held at the magazine’s New York City headquarters.
“In these luxury projects, there needs to be a margin of responsibility that’s exercised,” says Noah Turkus, co-founder of Weiss Turkus Projects. He noted that strategic choices, such as specifying resilient materials and products with a low carbon footprint, can lead to wide-reaching change: “That’s the type of social responsibility that we can take on, which can have a deep impact, particularly if we’re doing this in multi-family units.” Most attendees in the room agreed, noting the importance of giving back to communities surrounding new developments—melding the old and the new—as well as making choices that benefit the environment.
While designers are uniquely positioned to create a more sustainable future, getting clients and developers on the same page remains a challenge, especially when eco-friendly choices come at a greater expense. One solution is more extensive client education, but even this is not always effective—in particular with older demographics who have more experience building and designing their homes, plus exposure to a seemingly endless array of premium materials. When a client or developer is staunchly committed to a product or material, it can be nearly impossible to get them to budge.
The good news? Residential design lends itself to working with a range of clients, including individual families and younger generations who tend to be more receptive to a designer's suggestions. “I think this idea of the residential space as a hotbed of experimentation where, in some cases, you do have opportunities to push design, enables us to think about how ideas hatched for one client’s private residence could be scalable in some shape or form for a broader populace,” says Renzi. It's clear the residential sector is one where designers have immense opportunity to affect change, large and small.
But the 90-minute discussion hardly stopped there. Attendees lingered by the breakfast spread as they continued the conversation with Interior Design's Editor in Chief Cindy Allen, who stopped by to say hello.
A special thanks to our sponsors who made this event possible: