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EARTH-FRIENDLY DECORATING

Tim Treadway admits that Earth-friendly decorating is not at the top of the list of what designers are thinking about . . . but it's something that designers should be thinking about.

That's why the San Francisco Design Center adopted the theme of The Ecology of Design for its recent Winter Market.

"Sustainable design is the design needed for the present and the future," said Mr. Treadway, executive vice president of the center. "We've opened the door for further discussion."

With a quick tour of the center's three buildings and 100-plus showrooms, it became apparent that further discussion is definitely needed. Few green products are available.

"Everyone wants to talk about it, but at the end of the day, everyone just wants what they want," said Dan Winks, a salesman in the DeSousa Hughes showroom.

"It's rare to have a customer ask about green furniture and fabrics or complain about a lack of such products," he said. "Instead, the most common gripe is that they have to wait 16 weeks for an order. But the immediacy that people want affects how things are made, too," he said.

Like Mr. Winks, most salespeople shook their heads no when asked if designers and customers were asking for green products. Even manufacturers don't push the environmental benefits of products that are green, emphasizing instead their hypoallergenic qualities, they said.

Nonetheless, green products are at the Design Center to stay. There are upholstery and curtain fabrics made from such materials as recycled plastic Coke bottles, paper, hemp, undyed wools and Tencel (a wood pulp product). There are colorful, chichi tiles salvaged from ancient streets and chateaux in Europe. Cabinets and counters in a kitchen showroom are made from recycled wood and metals. And the latest arrival in a wallpaper showroom is a book of samples made from recycled materials and nontoxic dyes.

"It's starting to trickle in," said Mr. Treadway of the industry's attention to environmentalism. "And I think the message resonated that green design can be good design."

Cathy Nason was won over. An interior designer from Truckee, Calif., Miss Nason attended the conference hoping to find green resources. She wants to add a greater respect for the environment into the design profession, which she views as grossly materialistic.

"It's given me new inspiration," Miss Nason said. "Having the Design Center back green design is great. I think we get so caught up in the materialism, so having that nice balance of good design that works well with the environment is really exciting."

Of course, the Design Center cannot take all the credit. A threat of blackouts during the Winter Market helped emphasize that message. Lights were dimmed, neighboring streets experienced rolling blackouts, and California's energy crisis was the topic of conversation for many of the tens of thousands of visiting designers.

"Anyone who is going to design a home or refurbish an existing home has to at least pay attention to efficient heating and cooling now," Mr. Treadway said. "The energy crisis will spark an immediate turn toward green design." Thinking ‘green’ could build a less-toxic future in housing.

About The San Francisco Design Center
The San Francisco Design Center, comprised of three buildings, the Showplace, the Galleria and the Garden Court, is located in the heart of San Francisco's Multimedia Gulch and design districts. One of the West's most important resources for fine home furnishings, the SFDC's more than 100 showrooms offer everything from the newest ways to transform kitchens, closets and baths to state-of-the-art home offices and theater systems. The one-million-square-foot complex features products from more than 2,100 manufacturers, including home and office furnishings, decorative fabrics and accessories, flooring and wall coverings, lighting and hardware for both residential and commercial applications.

Written by: San Francisco Design Center


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