Sustainability gets a makeover with recycled, upcycled and unearthed treasures.
Gone are the days of hemp pillowcases and rattan papasans. Modern, eco-minded design professionals have progressed beyond patchouli, with options for every aesthetic and household need. They're not blindly "going green" – they want their pieces to be stylish as well as sustainable.
"What I've learned from [customers] is sustainability is something they expect, but it won't push them to buy it," says Jon Irons, founder and designer of SITGREEN, a furniture company that uses discarded cardboard from local stores to craft chic, minimalist pieces. "What really gets people with this kind of product is the story behind it. People want to buy a story."
The story might be from the south of France, where Antiquities Warehouse owner Louise McDermott sources much of her inventory, from old barn doors that become coffee tables to antique linens and grain sacks that become dog beds.
"Everything we do here is natural. We repurpose all our furniture," McDermott says. "There isn't anything in our warehouse that isn't naturally done either by an artist or it was old... nothing is mass-produced."
Or the story might be from Brazil and Uruguay, where Rare Earth Gallery owner Wayne Helfand sources magnificent amethyst geodes ranging in size from 8 inches to more than 10 feet tall. Each piece in his museum-like shop has a history and "portrays the natural beauty and wonderment that Mother Nature produces," Helfand says.
Or the story might be closer to home, like on your kitchen counter. Arizona Tile's Curava slabs are composed of 60 percent recycled glass. "People like the variation, they like the different speckles," assistant showroom manager Samantha Stinocher says. "I think they like knowing it's recycled glass and feel good that it's beer bottles kept out of the landfill, or windshields."
Whether your aesthetic is contemporary or draws more inspiration from a turn-of-the-century French farm, the through line in these products is letting their natural beauty shine.
"I really wanted to make a company that was honest and create products that, when you look at them, you know exactly what they are," Irons says. "It's not Ikea, it's not particle board under a laminate. It's solid wood with cardboard held together by steel rods. That's really the simplicity of it."
SITGREEN founder Jon Irons likens his pieces to fine leather goods “because the cardboard wears differently. When you sit in it, it indents differently for every person.” The chair is around $100; the stool is around $80.
4012 E. Broadway Rd., Phoenix
Rare Earth Gallery
This piece is half of an amethyst geode from Brazil, sold as a set of two halves that look like "dolphins jumping out of the water," Helfand says. Nearly 4 feet high and propped on a 3 1/2-foot pedestal, the sparkling, dramatic piece can "make a huge statement," Helfand says, especially when set off with lighting. Price upon request.
6333 E. Cave Creek Rd., Cave Creek
Everything in this rustic tableau was created from natural and/or found materials. The warehouse's paintings range from $500-$1,800. The "litho stones" are lithographs made on limestone from Belgium and France, some dating back to the 1880s ($90-$400). A wicker laundry basket from France ($150) and elk horns ($500 each) juxtapose disparate natural materials in a harmonious way. The table, a custom order by Valley-based Flux Design Studio, is made of Brazilian tigerwood and wrought iron. Price upon request for custom orders.
2025 E. University Dr., Phoenix
Curava's recycled glass slabs (shown here in "Wheat") provide a safe, stain- and heat-resistant surface for countertops, backsplashes, showers and vanities. "The look draws them to it or the recycled content, but it's just such a pretty product," Stinocher says. "It's beautiful, it's clean, it's easy to maintain." The material starts at $27 per square foot.
14700 N. Hayden Rd., Scottsdale