Robin Wilson knows a thing or two about eco-design. In addition to being a nationally recognized eco-friendly and healthy space interior designer, Ms. Wilson also serves as an ambassador for the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America.
She works tirelessly to increase awareness of indoor air quality issues that affect wellness in residential and commercial spaces. As a personal sufferer from asthma and allergies, she has a firsthand understanding of the issues that individuals/families face on a daily basis.
Her passion is educating consumers about interior design, healthier lifestyles and preventative measures to create eco-healthy environments. She’s appeared on HGTV, was in the Wall Street Journal and has even been a design consultant to President Clinton.
As a part of our ongoing Creative Home LivingSeries, Conscious Connection caught up with Robin to discuss the benefits of healthy space design and how you can get involved with making your own home more eco-friendly.
Conscious Connection: What exactly is healthy space design and how did you get started with this work?
Robin Wilson: Healthy space design is focused on the ecosystem in which you live – on what you sleep, eat and lounge. Products should be as non-toxic as possible from the adhesives in cabinetry or furniture to the architecture. I began working in the design and construction space in 2000, before the “green” movement and focused on wellness for the workers (using clean construction methods) and for the client (using non-toxic products such as paint). It all began with the recognition that my lifelong struggle with allergies and asthma could be a platform to discuss options for clients.
Conscious Connection: Why is eco-friendly design important?
Robin Wilson: Statistics by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America show that 1 in 4 children suffer from asthma or allergies and those alarming numbers must be addressed by looking at the environment in which we live. Since we spend one-third of our life sleeping, one of the easiest things to do is to review the items that are in our bedroom such as pillows and linens. Plus, it is a lot easier to be preventative with ‘wheezing and sneezing’ than waking in the middle of the night and having to take medicine or go to the hospital to treat asthma or allergy conditions.
Conscious Connection: How does indoor air quality affect wellness?
Robin Wilson: Indoor air quality can sometimes be 10x worse than outdoor air quality since many families hermetically seal ourselves in our homes and use air conditioners – without opening windows to let in fresh air. Add the chemical stew of cleaners, cooking fumes and dust or pet dander, and you often end up with enough triggers to cause a wheezing and sneezing episode.
Conscious Connection: What role do hypoallergenic products play in maintaining wellness?
Robin Wilson: Using hypoallergenic products can be a simple step on the way to analyzing the environment in which you live – from your pillows to paint to pet dander – and educating yourself on ways to limit allergic triggers. It is my belief that when you are ‘wheezing and sneezing’, it is a sign of inflammation in your body, which has been proven to be a cause of many medical disorders.
Conscious Connection: Tell me about your work with the Asthma and Allergy Foundation.
Robin Wilson: The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America is one of the oldest and largest organizations that provides information to families about the best products, newest research and treatments and data to assist in travel, eating and shopping. They have been around and have good information. My role as one of their ambassadors is to spread the word about their good work, and to access facts when needed for a speaking engagement. I believe in their work as they are very helpful to other consumers with their product certification process and they also share information with other organizations.
Conscious Connection: How did you get involved with the Sustainable Furnishings Council?
Robin Wilson: Several years ago, I was speaking at the Architectural Digest Home Show and was approached to learn more about the SFC…and liked their mission to create an accountability for durable goods in the home. They have been evolving over the recent years, and recently asked me to join the Board of Directors – and so I am hopeful that I can continue to work with the organization to effect change and positive contributions to the furnishings sector.
Conscious Connection: Is there anything else you would like to add?
Robin Wilson: We just launched our line of furniture at the 2013 International Contemporary Furniture Fair (ICFF) held in New York on May 18-21 – and are thrilled that we meet the sustainable, hypoallergenic and non-toxic criteria for furnishings. As well, ourRobin Wilson Home hypoallergenic bedding products are available on the website and at select stores of Bed Bath & Beyond.