Design Innovators

By Jennie Nunn / April 29, 2014

These designers take sustainability so seriously, they have devoted their lives—and their designs—to it

Design Innovators


Design InnovatorsInnovator: Flor Tiles, eco-friendly, modular rug systems; Greg Colando, president

Home Base: Chicago, Illinois

Standouts: “Lasting Grateness,” our take on a fanciful grillwork pattern in tight-loop fibers that can transcend with a bold statement; “Vintage Vibe,” a modern take on traditional Moroccan Beni Ouarain rugs, with a diamond-shaped starburst pattern with subtle irregularities that honor the characteristics of ancient weaving techniques; “Laid Back Groove,” subtle striations that create a soft linear rhythm across a solid backdrop of neutral tones for a seamless look and cushiony feel underfoot.

Design Philosophy: “Sustainability is at the core of everything we do,” says Colando. “We believe that every company providing products for the consumer, especially products for the home, should consider their environmental impact.

“We use 100 percent recycled nylon for the face fiber, we have some of the lowest VOCs in the industry, and our Return & Recycle Program is our investment back into one of our core beliefs, which is the repurposing of existing materials. This philosophy ensures we are bringing value to the customer in ways that go beyond just a well-performing area rug and extend into our overall impact on the world around us.”

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Design Innovators

Design InnovatorsInnovators: Jonathan Junker and Seth Grizzle

Company: Graypants

Home Base: Seattle, Washington

Standouts: New Kerflights. “The Kerflights’ strength is their adaptability,” says Junker of the nature-inspired lamps made of recycled corrugated cardboard, fabric cord and a powder-coated steel base. “I love that they can look sharp in any situation whether it be a coffee shop, an office or a home. The shapes are simple and refined, and the shades can be reversed to provide a bold boost of color. And, the shadows and textures they create are stunning. We both grew up in Ohio surrounded by farm country, and there is a distinct resemblance of cracks of light filtering through the old leaky and dusty barn-board siding that never fails to intrigue us.”

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Design Innovators

Design InnovatorsInnovator: Miki Iwasaki

Company: Mi Workshop

Home Base: San Diego, California

Standouts: Coffee tables, shelving systems and furnishings made from reclaimed wood and repurposed materials; one of his latest designs, the DC Cabinet, is made of reclaimed wood.

Design Philosophy: “Using environmentally friendly conscious materials isn’t really a goal in my work,”  says Iwasaki. “It just makes sense. Often times it is just a logical and practical solution to the work. In some projects, I just wanted to be economical with materials due to financial constraints by the reuse of old or remnant materials, other times it’s the color or details that allows for a unique design solution. New technologies are adding a new dimension to making materials and this is affecting environmentally conscious materials in an interesting way.”

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Design Innovators

Innovator: Melissa Kerkhoff

Company: Lula Fabrics

Home Base: Cape Town, South Africa

Standouts: Hand-screen-printed 100 percent cotton cloth supplied by a local mill in Cape Town, suzanis from Uzbekistan, woven stripes “Chilla” and “Tripti” and damasks and leaf-inspired designs inspired by the Monster, a South African plant.

Design Philosophy: “Sustainability is important to me, as we have a responsibility as manufacturers to protect our earth,” says Kerkhoff. “I do this by using local suppliers of fabric and printing in the city I live in. This reduces the carbon footprint my business might make. I am proudly South African and our textile industry has been badly affected by Chinese imports. I support local and other South Africans and foreigners who live in South Africa with a conscience and who care about our industry and environment will support local designers like me.”

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Jennie Nunn

Jennie Nunn

West Coast Contributing Editor at Organic Spa Magazine
Jennie Nunn, Organic Spa's West Coast Contributing Editor, is a former editor at magazines including Sunset, California Home+Design, and 7x7. Her work has appeared in publications such as C, The Hollywood Reporter, AFAR, Destination Weddings+Honeymoons, The San Francisco Chronicle, Luxe Interiors+Design, San Francisco Magazine, Gotham, Capitol File, 5280, Houston Brides, and 805 Living. 
Jennie Nunn

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