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June 2, 2008

Craft: An evening well spent in Boulder, Colorado—at DWR.

The other day Katya (our editorial intern who just organized our elevision talk show at the historic Boulder Theater) and I attended an evening lecture at our local Design Within Reach. DWR, which sells modern stylee high-end furniture, has in the past year put a great deal of energy and attention on “green.” Their latest catalog, instead of being printed on virgin paper trying to get us to buy beautiful things we may not need…is printed on ecopaper, and focuses on educating the reader on sustainable options out there. That’s big: because modern-day furniture is generally far from sustainably-produced. Cupboards offgas. Fancy plastic light fixtures are made in China in questionable conditions, then shipped halfway across the world in a ton of packaging. Laminate has toxic glue in it. Sofas are filled with non-biodegradable synthetic crap. Etc.

Katya and I had a long day organizing our latest, biggest elevision talk show—and I was expecting one of DWR’s famous parties—so when we walked in and saw a lecture starting up our smiles drooped. But within a few minutes a funny thing happened—eco-designer David Trubridge‘s words and slides starting hitting home—inspiring our weary minds and exciting our numbed-up hearts. We sat up, put down our plates of fancy cheese and upper-crusty crackers, threw back our Vodka Fourtinis…and every slide and word from Trubridge started giving me ideas for articles, for cover designs…for a life, lived sustainably.

Following Trubridge, one of the VPs of Emeco, the most eco chair on the planet, got up and talked about how they make what they make (80% recycled, 100% recyclable) chairs, and where they make ’em (Pennsylvania—not China, like so many other competitors). Now, the chairs ain’t cheap—we got four in our office at $400 a pop—but they’re warrantied for life, making ’em the last chairs you’ll ever buy, or cause to be made. Now that’s sustainable, and fair-labor to boot. And you can bet your Teko socks that if poor little elephant is going in for such stylish, hardy, well-crafted chairs, they’re worth it.

It’s about craft, all this green eco sustainable talk. This isn’t a trend. This is about leaving trends aside. Green is about returning to the lineage of handmade, personal, intimate objects that reflect the maker’s character and integrity. Sustainable is about consumers caring enough to want to know who made what we’re buying. Eco is about sourcing our materials in a way that the earth can replenish supplies of said material for our grandchildren’s generation. Green, like yoga or meditation or farmers’ markets or organics is not a trend—it’s a rediscovery on modern society’s part of the vital importance of working in harmony with our precious, fragile, powerful earth.

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