Question: Is there an analogous trend in interior design towards sustainability as there is in architecture?
Thom Filicia: There’s definitely a trend which not a word I love to use but there’s definitely a move, let’s say towards... people that are thoughtful about their space and their interiors are now even being thoughtful about, you know, sort of the amount of chemicals they’re putting in their space or amount of... just the surfaces and what they’re made out of, and offcasting and volatile organic compounds is what people are thinking about and so when someone says something is low VOC, that’s what VOC means.
And generally when we think of environmentally friendly interiors what I’m used to seeing are these very kind of like, very sparse, very kind of clean, very, you know, I call them hemp-world kind of interiors. And they’re cool and I actually love the look of that, very minimal but one of the things that we were discussing with the client that I design this apartment for in River House in New York City was that environmentally friendly interiors don’t have to necessarily be anethstetic, they need to be your aesthetic. And even going back to what I was talking about before where I try to design spaces that are very personal so the idea was that I wanted to do an interior... design an interior that was filled with the personality of the project of the client and tells their story.
But does it in an environmentally friendly way so this – the photograph you’re looking at right now of this living room, this is the living room at River House, it was all... every single piece of furniture from the curtain hardware, recycled metal, the dining table was recycled zinc and paper stone top. The chairs were made from... all the furniture, the coffee tables are made from certified woods with low VOC finishes on them. The rug was made from vintage [...] that were tattered and worn that we cut up and then we connected them locally with organic felt and then put them on organic pads. The finishes or the glues for the wall covering were low VOC, the wallpapers themselves were sustainable. The fills for the furniture are organic.
It just, you know, at every level basically measured like how green... and I always talk about it being shades of grain took and said, “Okay how green can this piece be?” Some things are more green than others and, you know, the lamps that flank the sofa are made from vintage wine bottles that are sitting on certified walnut plints with handmade twine... natural twine lampshades, locally made. The light fixture of the dining room table is made from recycled jet engine parts. The light next to the dining table, there’s a pair of floor lamps that are made from recycled plumbing parts. So there is an element at... almost each piece has a real sort of lineage that connects it to being environmentally friendly. But over all I think when you walk into the space you wouldn’t look at this and think, “Oh this is definitely eco-friendly interior.” It just feels like I think an interesting space that’s kind of fun. It’s sexy. It feels fresh. It feels stylish. I think that it employs taste to a certain level and I guess that’s subjective but I do think that it, you know, there’s a balance. There’s all of the elements that I think sort of define what is tasteful or pleasing to the eye. I think it employs those elements.
So I think it’s a very well-rounded space and I think when you look at it evokes emotions that I hope are positive. And I talk about it in my book about the things that I look for that I sort of incorporate into all of my designs. I want them to be fresh. I want them to be inviting. I want them to be unpretentious. I want them to be stylish. I want them to be sexy. I want them to be inviting.
So you’re... at every interior and some depending on the spaces, the client, or the situation are more fun than sexy or more comfortable, or less comfortable, or less inviting, or more inviting. But they have to be there at some level and be part of the collective. And I think that, that ultimately that balance and how you balance those emotions are really what kind of defines how people emotionally connect with a space and I think that is what that emotional connect is what people are... use the term taste in terms of relating that experience.
Recorded August 4, 2010
Interviewed by Max Miller