By Chere Di Boscio
Travis Nagle knows about furniture. One of the founders of Medley, a company that allows clients to co-create eco-friendly furniture that’s tailor made for them and their space through hand-to-home craftsmanship made in Los Angeles, he also founded iconic eco-furniture shop Viesso back in 2005, which has been a favourite decor stop for conscious celebrities, socialites, and even graces the sets of a few TV shows!
Sustainably harvested woods or sheets of compressed bamboo plywood form the basis for all of Stem’s furnishings. Toxic adhesives, which give off fumes that can harm your health, are never used, and upholstered pieces use textiles dyed with no harsh chemicals, and the glues, foams used are all non-toxic, too. Importantly, their beds (where we spend 1/3 of our lives) are made with latex, natural wool, jute and cotton.
We spoke to Travis to get his take on up and coming decor trends, why sustainable furniture is important, and some overall eco furnishing tips to help make your home more gorgeously green.
Why is eco-friendly furniture important to have in the home?
In general a lot of furniture is made with woods and other materials from sources that are not sustainable, and the products contain a lot of harmful chemicals that can potentially affect your health. Some polyurethane foams and adhesives contain some nasty toxins that can cause everything from headaches to organ damage, for example. These products are made cheaply as well, so then the items don’t last a long time and end up polluting the home as well as the planet long term. It’s vital to reduce exposure to harmful chemicals by using natural and non-toxic materials. It’s important to know what you’re bringing into your home since these toxins can affect your health both short term and long term.
What’s the biggest mistake people make, in your opinion, when decorating their homes?
Doing too much is one I see pretty often. Many people fill their homes with too many things, and sometimes keeping a little visual space can do wonders for overall feel. Also, when shopping don’t try and buy everything all at once if you’re furnishing a whole house. Start with the main items and then work through the supporting pieces.
What are some of the most important pieces of furniture in a house, and what’s the best way to choose them?
Usually the most important item is the sofa or sectional. It’s the centerpiece of the living area and really helps define the room. Plus, you spend a lot of time there so it’s worth it to make sure it has the right look and comfort. We offer customisation in terms of the fabric, sizing, and even fillings, which really helps each customer get exactly what they want. But even if that level of personalisation isn’t available, take the time to ensure the seat height and seat depth work for you, and that the fabric colour and texture is suitable for the space and usage long term.
What key design trends do you see for 2017?
Lighter colour woods are still a popular trend, as well as smaller scale pieces. Overall there’s a demand for a more natural look in terms of woods instead of metals. Mixing different styles is something we also see more of, with customers getting away from catalogs and full sets because they have access to so many products online. Instead of only mid-century or industrial for example, it’s nice to blend styles for a more balanced look.
Which furniture designers have most influenced you?
In addition to some individual designers, I’m influenced by brands and how they approach business. For example, Patagonia and their sustainability efforts, or Warby Parker and their approach to retail experience. In terms of design, on a recent trip to Denmark and Sweden I was reminded how much I love the Scandinavian aesthetic with brands like Muuto and Hay. I went to the Danish Museum of Art and Design and learned how much Danish design was originally influenced by Japanese innovations. I love when cultures or design philosophies merge and create something new.
If you could decorate any celebrity’s home, whose would you choose and how would you furnish it?
I think it would be fun to furnish Leo DiCaprio’s home. He’s a leader of sustainability efforts, so we could work in our all natural pieces. I also feel like he might entertain with dinner parties so I would make sure he has a very livable dining space with plenty of room for guests to mingle. I’m also guessing he watches a lot of movies, so we set him up with a low and loungy chaise sectional to enjoy the many hours of film in his future.
What’s the hardest thing about making eco friendly furniture?
The most difficult part is keeping the costs down to make our furniture as accessible to as many people as possible. To source quality materials and build everything from scratch in the United States means we have more costs than items built cheaply or overseas. We think it’s worth it for a better product that will last a lifetime, but it can be tough to compete on price with other business models.
What are your top three design tips?
- Doing a little prep work like ordering samples and measuring your space can go a long way towards getting the right results.
- Emphasise function as well as the form so that you maximize the space in each room, and maintain good flow and flexibility.
- Use different textures with accents like rugs, pillows, or art to create character and contrast.
Any final thoughts on the future of sustainable furnishings?
It’s a really excited time in the world of furniture, there are a lot of smaller brands emerging and different ways that they each is approaching the industry. Furniture has typically been a late adopter of technology and innovation compared to other verticals like fashion, so it’s great to see a larger variety of designs and experiences available to empower consumers and their search for furniture.
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