LIVDEN decorative tiles are made with recycled materials

January 7, 2022 by  
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Founders (and step-sisters) Georgie Smith and Hilary Gibbs began with a simple idea to expand options for interior design with decorative tiles to accent any space. They then embedded the idea of sustainability into the business plan and launched LIVDEN. The fresh and innovative patterns add a unique flair to walls and countertops with minimal environmental impact. Each tile is made using upcycled post-consumer materials. The duo identifies their core values as sustainability, originality and accessibility and the newest Fall 2021 Capsule Collection seems to embrace all three. Related: Eco Method Interiors marries environmental science and design The company designs two types of tiles. The PaperStone tiles are created from recycled paper and a non-petroleum resin comprised of 90% recycled melamine and 100% recycled phenolic saturated papers. According to the website, “PaperStone products are also certified recycled by the Rainforest Alliance to the Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC®) standards.” Terrazzo, the second type of tile, contains 65% to 66% post-consumer recycled material.   In addition to a focus on material selection, the company is dedicated to pairing with green manufacturing partners in order to minimize resources and waste . “From the onset of LIVDEN, one of our highest priorities was fostering relationships with manufacturers that shared our commitment to and passion for the environment,” said LIVDEN. “We are fortunate to have partnered with like-minded, eco-conscious suppliers who innovative sustainable manufacturing methods and continually work to lessen their environmental impact.”  All materials and products are sourced and manufactured in the U.S. The company is headquartered in San Diego, California . Manufacturers are located in Washington and Florida. The company thinks it’s important to minimize transport emissions while creating domestic job opportunities saying, “Our manufacturing partners are domestically based, and we are incredibly proud to offer a made-in-the-USA product that’s fueled by American craftsmanship.”  At a local level, LIVDEN shows its commitment to the community through recycling all metals, glass and plastics that leaves the facility. It also organizes annual community service events and offers employees full benefits and livable wages.  + LIVDEN  Images via LIVDEN 

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How to bring biophilic design inside your home in 2022

January 3, 2022 by  
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Design trends come and go, often as a reflection of the country’s zeitgeist. So, it’s really not too surprising the events of 2020 and 2021 have driven design trends towards a connection with nature. So much so, there’s a label for this type of architectural and decorating style. Biophilic design is the primary design trend for 2022. What is biophilic design? At its core, biophilic design connects inhabitants with nature. It not only emphasizes natural elements such as cross-ventilation and natural lighting , but also places a focus on creating a healthy and productive space. That’s something we all seem to crave as the work-from-home trend extends.  The prefix bio- means life, making it clear why the movement involves a lot of plants and other greenery. This would be both inside the space and within views out windows and doors. In addition to vegetation , other natural materials such as branches and water are introduced.  Related: Verdi creates home décor from natural fibers and metal Origins of biophilic design  Stephen Kellert, professor of social ecology at Yale, is credited with the early foundations for the design style. He developed a guiding set of principles aimed at bringing outdoor experiences into the home environment . Lighting If you’re at the construction (or remodeling) stage, the best way to develop the design is to invite in natural light at every possible avenue through skylights, big windows and glass doors.  If a remodel isn’t on the docket, incorporate surfaces that reflect light, such as glass tables and large mirrors. For interior lighting, use natural and energy-efficient bulbs and give yourself options with teardrop, can and chandelier lighting. Provide additional task lighting with under-cabinet lights, floor lamps and table lamps.  Think about how light moves through your space from morning to night and how you use the space. Place your desk or couch near a window. Put a dining table where it will receive evening sun.    Colors Nature has acted as a template for interior design since the time the term was phrased. Color holds a lot of power in setting the tone of a space. When leaning into biophilic interior design, keep the color palette subtle and natural. Think creams and beiges. Also look at soothing shades of blue and green. These colors can create a backdrop as paint or fill the interior on furniture, curtains, carpets and throw pillows.  Provide airflow Fresh air creates an invigorating reaction. It flushes out stale air in the space and brings an instant connection with the outdoors. With this in mind, rely on open doors and windows with screens. Cross-ventilation allows air to tunnel through the space without relying on the central HVAC system. If you don’t have a natural air source, use a ceiling fan instead. Consider airflow options when placing your furniture. Plants Bringing living bits of nature into your space sets the tone for a connection with the natural world. Plus, since plants naturally filter the air, they provide a healthier environment. Research has also shown caring for plants reduces stress. Look to every level when displaying plants . Use ceiling hooks to hang plants, mantles, window sills, half-walls and multi-tiered plants stands.  Water Few natural elements elicit a response quite like flowing water. You can achieve this benefit through a tabletop or wall fountain. Large or small, the movement of water is calming and naturally connects to the other elements of water and air.  Fire The addition of a wood or gas-burning stove or fireplace brings another natural element into the mix. The crackle of the wood, the smell and the look of flames climbing upwards all trigger memories of camping, childhood summer camp and backyard gatherings.  Keep edges soft Look to Mother Nature when selecting furniture and décor pieces. She doesn’t have sharp edges. Instead of rectangular, square or other rigid shapes, choose curved and rounded pieces instead. Curved couches, round tables, circular lamp shades and carpets all bring softness to the space.  Texture and balance Every decision you make in your biophilic design has the potential to add to or detract from the cohesion of the look. To achieve balance in the space, make sure all elements are working together. For example, bulky curtains can block out natural light so consider a transparent and flowing fabric instead.  Rely on natural materials throughout the space for an immersive dive into a connection with the planet. Jute, wood, cotton, bamboo, natural yarn, stone and wool all bring the look. Although a calm vibe is the goal, it doesn’t mean your space has to be a blank slate of off-white, smooth surfaces. Use texture to bring depth in throw pillows, window covering, upholstery fabric or rugs. Too much and the space will feel overly busy. Too little and it can feel cold and sanitary. Go for a blend with small accents instead. As a form of indirect biophilic elements, gather up framed or canvas art that highlights natural aspects of fire, water, air, mountains, oceans, rivers, trees, plants and animals too. Via Modsy Images via Unsplash

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Artist 3D-prints biodegradable agar floral lamps

October 15, 2021 by  
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Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, although most people would agree there is beauty in nature. Artist and textile designer Yi Hsuan Sung has taken that common view of natural beauty and used it to create a varied line of products for the home. In addition to reflecting nature in her designs, her mission is to honor it through the use of sustainable and natural materials . Sung believes that the desire to bring elements of nature inside the home often comes with a host of unwanted and unnecessary petrochemicals.  Related: Netherlands’ massive vault of sustainability and art To create a cleaner home environment, she began experimenting with agar, which is an extract from red algae. She then combined it with glycerin and water to make a material for 3D printing that is natural, biodegradable and renewable. Once she was able to solidify the process, she began, and continues, experimenting with different products made from the same medium. Her wall art and faux flowers have a variety of finishes, including shimmery, metallic and foamy. The bioplastic also takes a variety of shapes, from wavy to curvy, and can be formed into sheets, filaments or cast units.  In the example of her floral pendant lamps made with agar, she makes the shade base by knitting agar yarn and decorating them with agar flowers cast from 3D-printed molds she designed. Her Agar Garden designs are an artistic endeavor into working with bio materials, while developing useful and pleasing interior design products. She’s also developed lamps and other products from silk and wool fabric samples, sequin scraps and lurex selvage yarns and mats made from a combination of agar, onion skins, spoiled milk and recycled saris. With an emphasis on protecting the environment in her material choices, Sung pays special attention to coloring through the use of fiber waste (wool), food waste and mica powder.  “As a textile maker who consciously integrates science and technology into art and design and a material creative who dedicates to healthy and sustainable solutions, I earnestly explore the relationship between digital, bio and recycling fabrication,” Sung said. “Through my work, I want to transform textile making into a system that is harm-free, slow and mindful.” + Yi Hsuan Sung   Images via Yi Hsuan Sung 

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An entire street of 3D printed homes in Texas are move-in ready

September 16, 2021 by  
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This is East 17th Street, a collection of homes that range in size and style. It’s got beautiful construction, lovely walkways and landscaping. But what truly makes this Austin, Texas project unique is that these are the first 3D-printed homes for sale in America. Yes, you read that correctly. These homes were all made with a 3D printer. The homes range in size from 900 to 2,000 square feet in two and four-bedroom designs. All the houses have covered front porches, covered parking and a modern interior design . The rooms are big and open, the master bedrooms have vaulted ceilings, and the windows are large to let in plenty of light. Wood cabinets, woven rugs and little touches of greenery add pops of color to the neutral palette of the homes. A highly modern and uncluttered design creates a free-flowing, elegant look inside and out. Related: Khawarizm Studio showcases unique 3D printed vase and lamp Designed by Logan Architecture, the collection includes four houses total. Each home is solid, sturdy, safe and move-in ready. Their 3D-printed construction is proof that the future is now. The 3D printing for each home is thanks to Texas construction company ICON, which used its Vulcan building system. Through this process, 3D printing robotics layer cement onto striated surfaces. According to ICON, this system creates a tough, highly weather-resistant design. The 3D printing technology “provides safer, more resilient homes that are designed to withstand fire , flood, wind, and other natural disasters better than conventionally built homes and that can be built in a matter of weeks,” the company said in a statement. Printing the homes took five to seven days and was complete in March 2021. According to ICON, the East 17th Street Residences “are the first 3D-printed homes for sale in the US and ready for move-in.” + ICON Via Dezeen Images via ICON

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An entire street of 3D printed homes in Texas are move-in ready

Khawarizm Studio showcases unique 3D printed vase and lamp

September 15, 2021 by  
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In 2020, Khawarizm Studio’s 3D-printed smart lamp “The Future Catcher” (also known as LouLou, after the Arabic word for “pearls”) placed third in the 2020 3D Printed Luminaire Design Competition and was exhibited at Dubai Design Week. The light fixture design was a reference to Arabian wind catchers and meant to boost awareness of 3D printing in lighting and interior design . Now, designer Muhammad Khalid has revealed another futuristic 3D printed project, this time inspired by the Arabic word for “whirling,” referring to a form of physically active meditation that originated among Sufi groups. The new design, Tawwaf, is modeled after the whirling movements and classic Egyptian Tannura fabric. Featuring both a vase and lamp made from  recycled materials , the collection reflects a flowing pattern with bright, neon colors of orange, blue, pink and red. Related: Award-winning, 3D-printed smart lamp references Arabian wind catchers “We decided to implement computational design tools in our design aiming for a fluid form influenced by Whirling spirituality and Egyptian Tannura fabric behavior, through differential growth simulation starting from a circle to differentiated fluid curve,” explained the designer. “Whirling has been seen as a symbolic imitation of planets in the Solar System orbiting the sun, which led us to a serious question about producing “Tawwaf” on another planet in the future, as an answer we decided to use 3D Printing as production technology and Recycled PLA Filaments as a printing material aiming for possible opportunities in the future to spread  Egyptian  designs in the SPACE.” The lamp design uses smart  LED lighting  technology at its core, complete with multiple lighting modes and colors to reflect different styles and decor. Among the Tawwaf and the LouLou collections, the designer has also produced another vase concept called “Ward” (or the Arabic word for “flowers”) inspired by the Egyptian lotus flower as a symbol of purity, enlightenment and self-regeneration. + Khawarizm Studio Images courtesy of Khawarizm Studio

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Surprise wasps and bacterium complicate butterfly study

September 15, 2021 by  
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The introduction of new species to other territories could have unforeseen consequences. According to a study published in  Molecular Ecology , introducing new species to an area could bring along other organisms and pathogens. One such case dates back three decades when caterpillars of the Glanville fritillary (Melitaea cinxia) butterfly were introduced to the tiny island of Sottunga in the Åland archipelago. Scientists hoped that introducing the butterflies would foster an understanding of how they spread. What the scientists did not realize is that they were introducing at least three other species. Related: Season’s first ‘murder hornet’ nest destroyed in Washington It was later discovered that some of the caterpillars contained a parasitic wasp known as Hyposoter horticola. This wasp usually hides inside the caterpillar and bursts out before it can become a butterfly. But that’s not all. Inside the wasps were tinier, rarer “hyperparasitoid” wasps, known as Mesochorus cf. stigmaticus. The hyperparasitoid wasps kill the original wasps shortly after the wasps kill the caterpillar. The study’s lead author, Dr. Anne Duplouy of the University of Helsinki, says that scientists must learn more about species before introducing them to new territories. “The reintroduction of endangered species comes from the heart, a good place, but we have a lot to learn about the species we are reintroducing and the habitat where we want to reintroduce them before we do so,” said Duplouy. One additional visitor, the bacterium Wolbachia pipientis, came along with the wasps. Despite these surprising developments, each species continues to survive on the island. Since the butterflies were introduced along with the accidental parasites , they have spread further to other islands. The wasps are parasites and have consequently affected the other species of butterflies that existed on these islands. According to Duplouy, when such species are introduced, they crash over time and may not last long. However, with the Glanville fritillary, the case has been different.  “The Glanville fritillary population has had amazing crashes at times over the last 30 years and we were expecting there to be very low genetic diversity in the years following those crashes,” Duplouy said. “But this butterfly somehow seems to recover from isolated population crashes, and the genetic diversity in Åland is still impressively high, despite all the bottlenecks the butterfly has been through,” she added. These results could serve as a warning for future studies exploring the possibility of introducing new species. Via The Guardian Lead image via Pixabay

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There were 227 environmental defenders killed in 2020

September 15, 2021 by  
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As if it’s not bad enough that the world is suffering from  weather  extremes and other climate-related disasters, last year a record 227 environmental defenders died for protecting the planet, according to an  annual report by Global Witness . The report, which was released Monday, says that the number of murdered land defenders has more than doubled since 2013. “It’s the communities that are most impacted by the  climate  crisis who are speaking up to protect their land, their communities and our planet,” said Julie Anne Miranda-Brobeck, head of U.S. communications and global partnerships for Global Witness, as reported by EcoWatch. “It’s those environmental and land defenders who are especially vulnerable to killings and attacks.” Since the counts are based on publicly available data, the true number of fatalities may be underestimated. Related: Indigenous land defender Félix Vásquez murdered in Honduras Global Witness began publishing its annual report in 2012. Since then, the number of fallen environmental or land defenders has increased every year but one. According to the  U.N. Environment Programme  definition, environmental human rights defenders are “individuals and groups who, in their personal or professional capacity and in a peaceful manner, strive to protect and promote human rights relating to the environment, including  water , air, land, flora and fauna.” The report found that like climate change, violence against land defenders disproportionately impacts the Global South.  Colombia  (65 murders), Mexico (30 murders) and the Philippines (29 murders) were the most dangerous countries for those defending land. Latin America was especially deadly, while Africa’s fatalities more than doubled since the previous study, from 7 to 18. A killing in Canada was the only land defender murder recorded last year in the Global North. More than 71% of the land defenders killed in 2020 died defending forests. Other extractive industries, such as mining, large hydroelectric projects and agribusiness, were also deadly. The study authors noted that government inaction contributed to the deaths and that governments used the pandemic to limit protesting and free press rights. In 2020, 158 countries imposed new restrictions along these lines. Via EcoWatch Lead image via Fabrice Florin

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There were 227 environmental defenders killed in 2020

Sustainable office renovation in Barcelona earns LEED Gold

September 15, 2021 by  
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Designed by Sanzpont Arquitectura, this sustainable renovation completely transformed a 1970s office building in Barcelona,  Spain . The project, a new headquarters of the Naturgy Group, overcame several structural obstacles to achieve LEED Gold certification. The building includes a main facade with large windows for ample  natural light . A series of photocatalytic krion 3D modules also give the building the ability to purify the air. The south facade incorporates photovoltaic louvers to protect from the sun in the summer while generating clean energy. According to the designers, the louvers generate enough energy to power 1,562 points of light for four hours a day for up to 35 years. Related: This O-shaped tower will reduce solar gain by 52% The building also has a large portion of its roof dedicated to a  natural green space . Landscapers incorporated drought-tolerant native plant species that provide extra insulation, improve the microclimate and help reduce solar gain. How did the architects develop such a sustainable design? To start, they conducted a detailed study of the area’s climate and environment to determine the characteristics of the building and how it responds to its surroundings throughout the year. The project was also designed using the latest BIM cloud technology to create virtual models of architecture, engineering,  interior design  and the urban environment before bringing the project to fruition. One of the challenges presented to the designers was the existing structure’s insufficient pre-existing floor heights and deformed slabs. The original use for the building was limited to housing — with structural regulatory requirements far below that of modern constructions. The building was changed from housing to offices by modifying and eliminating patios and adding access ramps to the basements. New supports were added, such as an emergency staircase and a new foundation. At 7,000 square meters in size, the newly renovated building also uses  carbon fiber  to reinforce concrete slab ribs and pillars.  + Sanzpont Arquitectura  Images by Sergio Sanz (courtesy of Sanzpont)

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French offices receive a green update with Benetti MOSS walls

July 28, 2021 by  
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Sometimes, the best ideas are inspired in the most unlikely of ways. That was certainly the case for the new green walls in Mustela’s offices. A water-cooler chat at the French offices of Mustela, a company specializing in products for babies, sparked an idea that fanned into a new and versatile office design that reflects nature in its composition. At the initial meeting, interior designer Luca Medici; CEO of Benetti Home Stivens Benetti; Rosanna Re of the Sales Division of Benetti Home; and Michela Muntean, business development strategist for Benetti Home, began discussing beauty, which quickly led to the topic of greenery as a symbol for wellness and serenity. Related: Customizable, natural lichen green walls require no maintenance The interior design of the Mustela office reflects the company’s long-standing focus on sustainability, so the concept naturally leant itself to vertical green walls, achieved with Benetti MOSS, a stabilized, natural and maintenance-free lichen. With experimentation, the team decided to use the MOSS wall for the kitchenette and break area. Then, MOSS was incorporated in the entrance through a striking surround for the company logo. Medici said, “It’s easy to use and to remove, place and shape for different intended uses.” In addition to aesthetic appeal, which will be a model for other Mustela offices worldwide, the product nurtures other senses besides sight. The feel is described as “pleasant,” and it releases a notable moss scent. “There is even the sound involved. In 2021, in fact, among its latest projects, Benetti Home has launched BenettiSOUND, a vertical garden in 100% natural, stabilized lichen with a high-tech sound system that allows the wall to sound, providing a total multi-sensorial experience,” Benetti Home explained. Muntean said that the employees have found the greenery to be “very inspiring and interesting,” and explained that there are endless applications for the product. “Talking about the concept of experiencing the product, it could be interesting to include more small user-friendly, green design elements or do-it-yourself objects to help people to experience greenery with simplicity and engagement,” Muntean continued. “Especially in your home, which becomes the center of our daily life, greenery can help to create a corner of wellbeing, a place where you can feel good. Even aseptic and sterile environments, such as hospitals and pharmacies, which greenery can make cozy and comfortable for patients and clients.” + Benetti Home Images via Benetti Home

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French offices receive a green update with Benetti MOSS walls

Eco Method Interiors marries environmental science and design

July 2, 2021 by  
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Traditional construction, home improvement and interior design are fraught with  waste , chemicals and carbon release. But they don’t have to be. Erica Reiner, an eco-friendly interior designer in Los Angeles and founder of Eco Method Interiors, has built her business around creating beautiful, welcoming spaces that are healthy for people and the planet. Reiner brings an interesting background to the profession, with educational and practical experience in interior decorating as well as a degree in environmental science and a Master’s of Marine Science and Management. At first, Reiner says she kept the two practices separate until she found a focus on the  environment  and the indoors could go hand in hand. Related: WELL-designed home eliminates toxins from interior textiles Reiner told Inhabitat, “I studied, worked, and lectured all in the environmental field prior to this business. I did a decorating certificate for fun between environmental degrees before realizing I could start a business. At first, I offered sustainability consulting and design separately while building my portfolio, before realizing how dirty the industry was, and realizing that I could marry the two pieces of my identity and passions together in one business.” Now well established in L.A. and across the country, Reiner provides virtual consulting, event decorating and full-service  interior design  with a specialty in removing toxic cleaning supplies and finding sustainable, eco-friendly furniture and textile options. She also hosts a popular podcast called “Green By Design,” which focuses on ways clients and design professionals can create sustainable design.  Although Reiner has worked in the business for several years, she shared her excitement over the increasing awareness of and interest in environmentally-friendly products. “In [the past] 5-7 years there’s been a huge increase in overall awareness, self-education and concern. For reference, in 2006 when I finished my prerequisites and chose my major in environmental studies for undergrad, most of the population I came across didn’t even understand what that meant,” she said. For Reiner, projects naturally come together after seeing the space and talking with the clients. She vets vendors for greenwashing saying, “We do everything from reading their website, emailing them for clarity, asking for their certification documentation or anything I feel we need for clarity. I don’t have a simple process for detecting greenwashing. It’s often just a little alarm that goes off in the way the product or material is described. Often legit companies who are proud of their efforts go into detail and have clear information accessible. Some companies, even if they don’t promote their practices, once asked can provide clear information. Companies that greenwash often use language to try to sound good, but with my background in ES academia I know it doesn’t make sense.” Reiner’s current project is a complete 9,000-square-foot house in Brentwood for a Hollywood family concerned about toxicities in the home. With this in mind, Reiner and the owners have relied on green manufacturing to custom-build sofas, beds, rugs and even wallpaper.  Her portfolio is varied, with large and small projects, residential and commercial spaces, and geographically dispersed locations. A few are highlighted below. Office and clubhouse in San Antonio, TX This project incorporated  recycled  paper countertops, furniture and art pieces made from reclaimed wood, non-toxic wallpaper, recycled PET area rugs and pre-loved books and accessories. Master bedroom and entryway in West Los Angeles, CA  To make the space cozy and environmentally friendly, Reiner included striking tables made from recycled  wood  beams. She also created a statement wall with FSC wallpaper free of toxins and made using low-impact dye. The rooms are accented with artwork, rugs, bedding and baskets made from natural fibers and organic materials. It also features vegetable-tanned leather chairs, recycled glass vases and  energy-efficient  lighting. Nursery in Manhattan Beach, CA This small, 168-square-foot nursery creates a big visual impact but a small environmental footprint with the use of organic bedding and a GOTS-certified area rug. The client chose to forgo the chemical-laden fire retardant in the nursing chairs and had a crib custom built to ensure it was made with FSC wood and low-toxin adhesives and finishes. Playroom, Los Angeles, CA Kids need space to play. While these clients wanted to look out for the health of children in the space, they also wanted to pay attention to the health of the planet by avoiding waste and upcycling where possible. To this end, they selected non-toxic throw pillow inserts, an upcycled cotton scrap area rug and a pre-owned, vintage coffee table. The space is also adorned with VOC-free paint and 100% linen curtains. Apartment, Austin, TX Recycled materials, especially those from the local area, give this apartment high ratings for low impact. To accomplish this, Reiner included pre-loved furniture and pieces with GreenGuard Certification. The space also features pillows and a rug made from recycled plastic and a wall specifically for locally sourced art. While Eco Method Interiors can help you sustainably makeover your space, Reiner mentions that there are fewer barriers than ever in creating a space you love without hurting the environment. She recommends researching online, reading books on sustainable interior design , of course listening to her podcast, and perhaps setting up an online e-design session to see how she can help. + Eco Method Interiors Images via Eco Method Interiors

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