When defining what is “good design” opposed to “bad” multiple factors come into play. The most basic seem to serve either aesthetic or practical needs necessary within design.

Function, fashion, endurance, durability, emphasis – just to name a few.

Functionality of a space is obviously a crucial factor as one must be able to carry out all required tasks, as well as those possibly unpredicted prior to completion, within it. If a space does not allow for easy, unrestricted movement then it has already failed. It should be capable of adapting as its users needs change and allow functioning with ease of the tasks it was originally designed for. Non-utilitarian aspects of “good design”, such as the use of current fashions and trends within a designed environment, although often a priority for many designers and clients, must be tempered to insure a space’s ability to endure after the current trends are no longer “in”. An environment that has style but is quickly dated is not of “good design”.

Furthermore, mastering style and functionality within a designed environment but not being considerate of the long-term durability of the material and textiles utilized can also adversely affect the spaces ability to be of “good” or “bad design”. Choosing materials and textiles that stand up to the everyday usage required within the environment and maintain a quality of newness by retaining a level of durability is also essential to defining a space of “good design”. A space must also be of strong compositional consideration to classify as one of “good design”. Proper emphasis of some items, colors or features while allowing others to take the proverbial “back seat” increases interest and user comfort within the space by giving the eye a place to rest. Over-the-top or mundane designed environments can either exhaust and overwhelm the eye or bore it.

All of these factors are key when taking into consideration a spaces quality of design, but one component, unmentioned thus far, can ultimately supersede all other factors of “good design” and that is whether the environmental and health related impacts of the materials, textiles and construction conventions employed within the designed environment have been taken into consideration.

The incorporation of sustainable and smart design in our indoor environments can play a vast role in reducing everyday ecological impact while improving the quality of life of those occupying the space. Choosing materials and textiles consisting of easily renewable, recycled, recyclable and/or un-hazardous contents is not only helpful in reducing the negative effects on the environment through manufacturing of the product and resource usage but also reducing adverse effects on the health of the people inhabiting it. Toxins and off-gasses from materials and textiles made with harmful chemicals as well as through unsafe processes are greatly detrimental to the health of not only the people exposed to the final product but also those involved in the manufacturing of such harmful materials. Polyvinyl chloride (“PVC”) is probably the most well known example of an extremely harmful material to both those manufacturing it as well as the end user yet it is still widely used in the building and design sector.

Ultimately through embracing the concepts to preserve what we can, use what we have and re-innovate or do away with altogether the current harmful processes and conventions involved in the Interior Design and Architecture industries, we as a collective vocation can positively impact our lives, the lives of the inhabitants of our created environments and those of future generations. Sustainable design IS good design.