Posts Tagged ‘sustainable design’

White paper by John Martin-Rutherford, PhD, Chairperson, Harrington College of Design Interior Design Program. This feature is continued from yesterday.

Understanding what underlies the ‘renewable’ designation as well as the ecological effect of its manufacture and use is the first level of analysis.  Should a sustainable resource pass this first level, we must determine whether its harvesting, shipping and manufacturing processes contribute to any air, land or water damage.    Are harmful chemicals involved in the manufacturing or delivery processes that cannot be rendered inert after the process is complete?  Do these chemicals harm the people involved in the process?  If the answer to any of these is affirmative, then, again, the resource is not as ‘sustainable’ as we might imagine or be told.  Lastly, if the product can be used and adapted again and again over an increasingly longer lifespan, then the product is sustainable over time; a welcome benefit to the consumer.

The concept of sustainability is simple but the determination of what is deemed to be sustainable is not.  Sustainable design must go beyond the surface in order to determine the degree of sustainability of a product.  Once that is determined, the responsible designer can make decisions based on a complete set of facts and not just opinions or assumptions.   The manufacturing industry is beginning to respond to the necessity and desire for truly sustainable products by creating and marketing products that are acceptable and sometimes even preferable to less environmentally friendly choices.  However, the designer is the one who has the responsibility to make certain that the product is truly ‘sustainable’ and that the design and installation completes the sustainability gestalt.

– John Martin-Rutherford, PhD 

About Dr. John Martin-Rutherford , Chairperson, Harrington College of Design Interior Design Program:
John Martin-Rutherford began his design journey as a young child who enjoyed painting. He turned his innate interest in art into a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology and Art from The Centre College of Kentucky as well as a second Bachelor’s Degree in Architecture and a Master’s of Interior Design from University of Kentucky in Louisville. After travelling to Austin, TX to work with Dr. Charles Moore at the University of Texas, John went on to attain a Master’s Degree in Architecture then moved to San Francisco where he served as Director of Interior Design and architectural project manager for Leo A. Daly Co. John eventually moved back to his home state of Kentucky to attend University of Louisville and obtain the last of his six degrees–a PhD in Urban Design.

John is a huge promoter of the arts in all arenas of his life. He renovated a mansion in Louisville, KYinto a center for the arts where art exhibits, musical soirees, theater companies, and writers are all welcome. John, himself, is an oil painter and sculptor and has been president of the Kentucky Opera Guild, president of the theater group in college, on the board of Pandora Productions (a theatre company), etc. He has lived and studied in Italy and France and traveled around Asia, and was a United States representative to the International Laboratory of Architecture and Urban Design in Urbino, Italy. He believes strongly in the benefits of studying design in diverse regions and countries and has a personal love of Japanese Art, Architecture, and Landscapes.

John has many goals for his time at Harrington and is focused on creating a diverse atmosphere with a more global focus. He is also dedicated on preparing students for the real design world by creating confident and capable designers for the future.

Photo courtesy Minimalist Photography

Read Full Post »

White paper by John Martin-Rutherford, PhD, Chairperson, Harrington College of Design Interior Design Program


One of the biggest buzzwords around these days is ‘sustainable’.  It seems that the word has gained some interest for the public as well as the business and governmental sectors of most communities.  In the design industry it is no longer a question of ‘should we or shouldn’t we’ but another constant in the way products and design projects are conceived and produced.  However, if we asked a dozen people what the word meant, we would probably get a dozen substantially different answers.  Sometimes listening to different viewpoints is a positive thing when the viewpoints are properly collected, analyzed and compared.  However, beginning with a basic understanding of the subject under discussion is a requirement.   Sustainable design is a relatively new aspect of the design process and, as with most ‘new’ things in the marketplace, it is a term that is often misunderstood and misapplied.   It is a marketable commodity.   Used intelligently and with integrity, it is not just a laudable thing but a necessary one.  However, as most ‘new’ ideas and concepts in any industry, it is often adopted too quickly and without a complete understanding of the term or it is adopted unscrupulously to ride on the wings of the latest high-flying and easily merchandised product.

Sustainable design is only a part of the concept of ‘sustainability’.  Sustainability is an indivisible part of ecological stewardship of the planet’s resources.  Its effect is not just on the planet but on the humans and other creatures that inhabit the planet.  It is a gestalt; a complete and mutually-dependent operation.  A product may use a rapidly renewable resource as its primary element, but we must look at what underlies the ‘renewable’ designation as well as the ecological effect of its manufacture and use.  For instance, a rapidly renewable resource may be one that is produced quickly and with few or no fertilizers or pest control requirements but what negative affect does its growth have on the land, air and water used in its farming?  Does the resource contribute to ozone layer damage or water depletion or is the land denuded of enough nutrients to require it to remain fallow for some time after a crop is harvested?  Does its farming deprive indigenous species of their natural habitat?  If any of these is answered affirmatively, then the resource is not as ‘sustainable’ as we might think. 

Keep reading tomorrow!

Photo courtesy Minimalist Photography

Read Full Post »

Last October, I featured the work from Harrington’s Experimental Design class, who breathed new life into discarded chairs.

What happens when one artist devotes two years collecting then a quarter of a year redesigning? 100 Chairs in 100 Days, by Martino Gamper.

I came across this online and had to share… Martino displayed his unique collection in London in 2007. Speaking of his work, Martino said, “This project involves systematically collecting discarded chairs from London streets (or more frequently, friends’ homes) over a period of about roughly two years, then spending 100 days to reconfiguring the design of each one in an attempt to transform its character and/or the way it functions. My intention is to investigate the potential for creating useful new designs by blending together stylistic or structural elements of existing chair types… 


The project suggests a new way to stimulate design thinking, and provokes debate about a number of issues, including value, different types of functionality and what is an appropriate style for certain types of chair – for example, what happens to the status and potential of a plastic garden chair (conventionally located slap bang in the idiom of unremarkable functionality) when it is upholstered with luxurious brown suede?”

What happens? A whole lot… as you can tell from his pictures. But I have to admit – Harrington College of Design students came up with some impressive and creative designs themselves! See their work here.

Martino Gamper information and photography courtesy Gamper Martino.com

Read Full Post »

Yesterday I shared one Harrington College of Design Alumna’s experience as she transitioned from snowy Chicago to her professional career in Interior Design in Hawaii. Today, Tami shares some valuable advice she learned along the way of her journey.

Tami said, “Since graduating and going through the job hunting process, I definitely appreciate the fact that we are taught a wide spectrum of interior design skills at Harrington.  Those in the profession that I have spoken with since graduating have mentioned the professionalism in my portfolio presentation: that it shows my understanding of the different aspects of what goes into a project.  I made sure to incorporate architectural drawings, design development, renderings, and the process of how I was able to reach my final design. 

I believe that the two valuable pieces of information I took from Harrington were as follows:

  • Be congruent through your entire design process.  This sounds so simple, but it takes time and understanding of how you approach design as an individual to develop the ability to be congruent in your design from concept to space planning to furniture selection.  This is something that I have noticed has made a difference in the presentation of my design skills.
  • Completely express yourself through your portfolio.  My portfolio teacher, Tom Marquardt, was fantastic in the sense that when it came to formatting our portfolio he allowed us to be completely free.  He truly wanted us to be able to express ourselves through our work, which I am so thankful for the opportunity to have learned.  From him, I was able to gain a better understanding of myself through design and further develop it.”

Tami also shared one of her sources for inspiration – Teknion’s third edition of “Design Does Matter” stating, “I strongly encourage anyone interested in design to read these books!  They are compilations of designers from all areas, writing about why design is significant in our world and for our generation.  They definitely keep me motivated and excited about what we do!”

Thanks for sharing your advice Tami, and we look forward to hearing an update from you soon here at the Harrington College of Design! We’re currently about a foot of snow deep here in Chicago in our own Winter Wonderland, so hope you are enjoying the sun and sand 🙂

Featured design work is by Tami Stevens from her Harrington Thesis project.

Read Full Post »

Originally from Iowa, Tami Stevens decided one day to pursue a career in interior design. After googling “top interior design schools”, Harrington’s name came up. After learning more about the Harrington College of Design, Tami made the move to Chicago and completed her BFA in Interior Design in 2010. Upon graduation, Tami and her boyfriend decided to make their dream a reality: to move to a remote island in the Pacific – Hawaii!

As soon as she graduated, Tami hit the ground running professionally: after contacting several firms and visiting industry events, Tami landed a contract position creating spec books for an Air Traffic Control Center on a base in South Korea. She then turned her sights to the island where she hoped to live. “Before graduating, I researched the different opportunities in interior design firms in Hawaii.  During a week stay in Hawaii, I met with five firms and discussed with them the possibilities for someone who was just graduating in Interior Design.  I also brought the draft of my portfolio for their review.  When I came back to Harrington College in Chicago (while in Tom Marquardt ‘s Interior Design Portfolio class), I was able to make the necessary adjustments to my portfolio, based on the companies that I would actually be applying to in the near future.  From that experience, I knew that I would be able to become successful in the field of interior design while still living in my dream location!” Tami said.

Tami’s hard work and research paid off: after a competitive interview process for an open position at PhilPotts, a leading design firm in Hawaii, Tami was successful in landing a Jr. Designer position. Speaking of her design interests, Tami shared, “My primary interest is not just interior design, but design in its entirety.  From architecture, graphics, urban engineering to product design, etc., I appreciate learning about all aspects of design and how it has the ability to influence the world around us.” 

Tami shared some fun facts about her transition from snowy Chicago to the tropical island, sharing:

  • “78 degrees becomes sweatshirt weather after only living here for six months
  • I usually see a rainbow on the way to and from work every day
  • There are several different climates between the 8 islands – Big Island (Hawaii) even has snow!
  • Nobody honks their horn here – not even cabs
  • We don’t need air conditioning – the trade winds that come through our apartment are enough to keep it cool!
  • Sustainability is a HUGE part of everyone’s lives.  Living on an island in the middle of the ocean creates the sense of urgency that so many other places would benefit from.”

Keep reading tomorrow when Tami shares some great advice from her experience pursuing her dream position in a competitive industry!

Photo courtesy Tami Stevens. Photo is of Tami and Tom Marquardt, Harrington College of Design Interior Design instructor, at Tami’s graduation in 2010 from the Harrington College of Design.

Hawaii photo courtesy The Daily Ornellas

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »