Increased public awareness around sustainability has lead to a growing demand for environmentally friendly interior design. Twenty years ago, interior design students studied eco-friendly design practices, but there was little mainstream interest, says Stephanie St. Loe, Interior Design Instructor at the Vancouver College of Art and Design (VCAD). “The shift in public awareness and spending patterns toward more eco-friendly design has changed all that,” she said. “Now clients are actually asking for environmentally sensitive design, from floor plans to window placement and configuration, to building materials, smart lighting and heating systems. People are prepared to spend more for finishes that have a smaller carbon footprint and a longer useful life.” The biggest role an interior designer can play is to provide expert advice on new environmentally friendly technologies and products, which may not be common knowledge. Energy efficient lighting design, programmable heating systems, operable windows, radiant in-floor heating and efficient floor plans that utilize natural light are all modern techniques used in home design. “The green living shift has also caused a lot of innovation and new product development,” says St. Loe. “Now that there’s a market for greener products, manufacturers are bringing out new finishes and materials at a rate we’ve not seen in decades. It’s an exciting time to be a designer.” The field of interior design is perfect for creative people who have good mechanical-spatial aptitude, critical thinking skills, good organizational skills and excellent attention to detail, she says. Through training and work experience, designers will also develop their eye for color and proportion.
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