The design world encompasses a wide range of materials, products, people and trends. Along the way, designers are sure to discover that there are some they’d rather not use. We asked six industry pros—Florence Livingston, James Conley, Karen King, Christopher Wierer, Suzanne Duin and Wade Weissmann—what they refuse to feature in a project.
“We try to stay away from vinyl upholstery or wallpaper. Many years ago, I watched a documentary about the dangers of vinyl, and that was a point of no return. In general, a nontoxic indoor environment is very important to us, so we try to use natural materials whenever we can and are extra aware of potential chemicals, VOCs and other indoor pollutants. If clients had a specific request for vinyl, I would have a conversation about what I know and would find out what they are after exactly, but so far, that hasn’t been an issue.” —Florence Livingston, Florence Livingston Interiors, Marin County, California
Bear in Mind
“I would never use endangered animal skins or anything like that. We try to be as eco-conscious as possible. What’s also important to us is: If you have a white-run company profiting off of designs, patterns and images of people of color, and they’re not giving money back to those communities, those are definitely products that we won’t use.” —James Conley and Karen King, Studio Folklore, Chicago
“Knockoffs. It’s tempting, because great design engages your senses and desires for a reason. But designers and their work demand a level of respect. It’s one thing if someone doesn’t know what a knockoff is and inadvertently uses it. But if you are fully educated in design language and history, and your budget simply can’t handle the original, it’s best to go with something inspired by the original yet different enough to pay homage, rather than to simply copy it.” —Christopher Wierer, The Sycamore Collective, Los Angeles
“Well, I won’t say never, but I really frown on using anyone other than our seasoned vendors or laborers for a project. Sometimes clients will come with their favorite painter and that can work, but if you hire us, we stand behind our workrooms and take 100 percent responsibility for their quality in craftsmanship.” —Suzanne Duin, Maison Maison Design, Houston
“We don’t succumb to gimmicks or trends—they don’t last the test of time. I also refuse to use poor imitation materials because they don’t harmonize or age well. Their life expectancy will never be consistent with the degree of quality we’re trying to achieve.” —Wade Weissmann, Wade Weissmann Architecture, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Homepage photo: A Texas living room designed by Suzanne Duin | Courtesy of Maison Maison Design