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Welcome to EARTH, an ELLE DECOR celebration of accountability, renewal, transformation, and humanity in design. Here, we survey 15 firms and brands working across interiors, architecture, and urban planning, each of which has inspired us to live better—and more sustainably—in our spaces and places.
TOLO Architecture, Los Angeles
With its holistic understanding of the transformative power of architecture—and humane public policy—Tolo puts people and their environments at the center of its projects, working in deference to legislation like the Americans with Disabilities Act and California’s requirements for minimizing energy consumption.
McKinney York Architects, Austin, Texas
Marrying its sensibility for beauty with scientific expertise, the woman-led firm McKinney York Architects’ low-ego, empathetic practice is a City of Austin Platinum Level Green Business Leader. The firm has been doing pro bono work since 1995 and recently established a scholarship for female architecture students.
Office of Mobile Design, Los Angeles
Jennifer Siegal is the long-established pioneer of prefab, the maestra of mobile architecture and housing. Her firm, Office of Mobile Design, has its own line of prefabricated accessory dwelling units and centers its work on modular prefab construction, including systems and industrial process research.
Minna, Hudson, N.Y.
The team at Minna works in close collaboration with the craftspeople who create its wares, and the shop’s commitment to humanity is evident in its candid annual impact reports: In 2020, the business implemented more equitable hiring practices and workshops around anti-racism and is now working toward B Corporation certification.
Founded in 2019 by brothers Byron and Dexter Peart, Goodee creates its own sustainable home goods and partners with like-minded makers, all while maintaining rigorous operational standards, in accordance with its founding mission for holistic good and status as a B Corporation. Its site is even navigable by cause, from a circular economy to carbon reduction.
Armadillo, Los Angeles
Armadillo rugs are handcrafted with traditional processes by artisan dye masters and weavers across India. For each rug purchased, Armadillo, a newly certified B Corporation, donates 10 percent of net profits to its four-year-old Armadillo Foundation, the nonprofit it founded to improve lives in underprivileged communities through educational, health-care, and environmental initiatives
EARTH FYI: LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, a green building certification program used worldwide.
Hood Design Studio, Oakland, Calif.
Hood Design Studio is a hybrid cultural practice that traverses art, urbanism, and landscape. Its work centers on extensive community research, uncovering complex histories and narrative layers to create transformative spaces for both institutions and underserved communities.
Sasaki, Watertown, Mass.
Drawing on its expertise in cross-disciplinary collaboration, the 65-year-old award-winning firm Sasaki employs a suite of complementary strategies—from net-zero building to storm water management and even native and drought-resistant plantings—to design sustainable spaces that inspire.
Studio Zewde, New York City
Based in Harlem, Sara Zewde’s landscape architecture, urban planning, and public-art studio employs its multidisciplinary expertise to uncover and celebrate localized cultural narratives around the world, positioning itself within the larger timeline of human history and civic engagement.
EARTH FYI: Forest Stewardship Council certification ensures that products come from responsibly managed forests.
Uhuru Design, Brooklyn
Uhuru made a name for itself by using reclaimed and sustainably harvested wood and metals in idiosyncratic new ways. Today, its pieces are a fixture in commercial spaces like restaurants and office buildings. In April of this year, it co-launched Heirloom Design, a digital platform for “handing down” (refinishing and reselling) its long-lasting office furniture.
Cisco Home, Los Angeles
One of the nation’s first companies to use only reclaimed, natural, and organic materials for its furniture, Cisco Home is also a founding member of the Sustainable Furnishing Council. It works alongside two nonprofits that owner Cisco Pinedo cofounded, including Refoundry, which trains formerly incarcerated people to create home furnishings from reclaimed materials and become community leaders and job creators.
EMECO, Hanover, PA.
One of the most enduring American chairs, Emeco’s aluminum 1006 Navy chair (the “ten oh six”) was designed to withstand sea air, torpedo blasts, and 150 years of use. That ethos of longevity carries on in its products and practices: The company has been based in Hanover, Pennsylvania, since 1944 and still employs both the iconic chair’s 77-step production process and the community’s craftspeople.
EARTH FYI: B Corp certification is administered by the nonprofit B Lab to businesses that meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance.
Laura Hodges Studio, Baltimore, Md.
Laura Hodges’s interiors are finely tuned to her clients’ needs—and those of the planet. A LEED-accredited interior designer, Hodges urges clients to buy local and fair-trade and to recycle their old furniture and building materials. An ambassador for the Sustainable Furnishings Council, Hodges also owns Domain, a home goods shop featuring fair-trade and sustainable home decor.
Green River Project, New York City
Green River Project’s full-bodied interiors revolve around conceptions of domestic space, memory, and shared histories. The studio crafts furniture and interiors by hand, leveraging the founders’ backgrounds in the arts and drawing from a love of rich materials and tactility. Its work rejects materialism, embracing the beauty of mistakes and the friction of collaboration.
Shapeless Studio, Brooklyn
Trained in the Passive House method of building, Shapeless Studio designs with long-term energy consumption in mind and avoids synthetic and petroleum-based materials whenever possible. Fond of thoughtful details and well-crafted, highly functional fixtures and fittings, the studio emphasizes natural materials, making for warm spaces that are healthier for residents and age better with time.
Earth FYI: “Net zero” refers to the balance between the amount of greenhouse gases that are produced and removed from the atmosphere.
The EARTH event held on October 5th will serve as the culmination and celebration of this first-ever ELLE Decor sustainable initiative at the 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge featuring green-inspired cocktails and canapés, music by DJ Isaac Likes, with eco-conscious sponsor activations from our partners and incredible views of the NYC skyline.
THANK YOU TO OUR PARTNERS IN SUSTAINABILITY: Arhaus; Beko; the Container Store; Flor; Herman Miller; 1 Hotels; and Sherwin-Williams. Please visit the links here to read more about the ways each of our sponsors is thinking holistically about sustainability in their respective work.
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