G
Green Living, Portraits of Style Visionaries
VIEW ALL PHOTOS
Our “Green Issue” style visionaries are exemplary individuals whose eco-effective design values and holistic vision span both work and lifestyle. Reflective of Esensual Living’s own “green attitude” and our resolve to support those actively involved in ethical and eco-conscious projects, widely promoting and using organic materials – for instance Lissoy, Libeco, AAVA to name a few - our styles visionaries are pioneers in their respective fields, investing in our collective future through intelligent and innovative design and ethical choices.
 
In responding to our four questions, they share with us how their holistic creative vision has become an integral part of their design philosophy and demonstrate ways to minimise the impact that our lives have on our environment, energy resources, and our global society as a whole. From preserving tropical reefs, employing local artisans, to incorporating technology that promotes energy efficiency and zero waste, our visionaries remind us that we can all make a difference.
 
1. How important is it to you to combine design aesthetics and sustainability within your work?

2. When designing a project, what environmental aspects do you endeavor to incorporate and respect?

3. In what ways do you promote a more ecologically conscious way of life, both in your home and at work?

4. Do you have a personal “green” ritual? 
green-living green-living
Matteo Thun
Andrea Lutti
 

Matteo Thun

When it comes to ecologically and economically sustainable design, Milan-based architect and designer Matteo Thun is a leading voice.  His firm Matteo Thun & Partners is globally recognised for its all-encompassing commitment to “green” efficiency, whether it be architecture, interior design or product design.

His “green roof” technology, designed to regulate temperature for energy efficiency, and policy of 3 Zeros – Zero CO2, Zero km and Zero waste – along with the use of local materials that exist in complete harmony with the landscape, set him apart as a pioneer.

As well, Thun is a strong believer in the “invisible qualities” of design such as noise reduction, natural light and visual contact with nature.

All his projects are models of sustainable and aesthetical creativity, balancing tradition and nature, including the Vigilius Mountain resort in Merano, the La Vera Hotel in Cortina and the extraordinary Edel:Weiss ski residences in Katschberg – two monolithic apartment towers that are clad with larch wood resembling pinecones.

 

1. How important is it to you to combine design aesthetics and sustainability within your work? 
Our work is focused on sustainability and environment. Basically, we do not need to create design or architecture that is not sustainable – it goes without saying.  Our daily challenge is to achieve projects and products that are sustainable, of timeless beauty, pure and simple, but at the same time technically and environmentally innovative. Combining progressive design and sustainability means to aim for long-lasting solutions – this is what we do.

2. When designing a project, what environmental aspects do you endeavor to incorporate and respect? 
The respect for the Genius Loci is the source of the approach. The spirit of the site, with its cultural and historical background, its climate and morphology, its flora and resources, determines the creative process. Through this way of working, we remain true to the ‘three zero principle’: zero CO2, zero Km and zero Waste. When designing a product we start to deeply understand the brand and the materials and technologies available. Our design means to simplify and reduce to the essential, towards an iconic form.

3. In what ways do you promote a more ecologically conscious way of life, both in your home and at work? 
We have realized a number of hospitality projects and are building actually in different locations in Europe. Here we strive to build hotels that follow the Klima Hotel certification in order to guarantee sustainability architecture, saving resources and generating measurable economic results. Of course the approach to our work starts in our private life – we have a ‘green’ cook and kitchen in the office and most of the team is coming to work by bike – so do I.

4. Do you have a personal “green” ritual?  
No – I just care for our environment every day. I am in nature as much and as often as possible – I mostly eat vegetables. I go by bike or tube in urban surroundings – I take the train if at all possible and try to avoid long distance flights.

 
 
green-living green-living
Edel Weiss, Power Station Schilling, Piazza Front
Jens Weber Munich, Matteo Thun Agency, Vigilius
green-living green-living
LOUIS BENECH
Eric Sander
 

LOUIS BENECH

Louis Benech is one of world’s leading contemporary landscape designers, recognised for combining classic, formal design with a contemporary approach.

It was his passion for plants that nearly three decades ago lured Benech from a potential career in law. Since then, he has designed more than 300 gardens, both public and private, in extraordinary locations around the world, including the famous Elysées Palace in Paris, the Palace of Achilleion in Corfu, and the estate of Chaumont sur Loire.

Benech began his career working at the prestigious Hillier nurseries in England. On turning to France, he was commissioned, along with Pascal Cribier and François Roubaud, to redesign a section of the Tuileries’ gardens in 1990, a project that launched his career.

From commissions for major companies such as Hermès and Axa, to the gardens featured in his book, Louis Benech: Twelve French Gardens, Benech’s projects are wildly diverse, yet each contain the harmonious interplay between the architectural, historical and natural elements of the environment.

Benech’s current project, in partnership with the artist Jean Michel Othoniel, is to restore Le Nôtre Water Theater Grove in the gardens of Versailles, due to be open to completed in autumn. While adhering to the ecology, setting and the constraints of sustainable development, it will be the first contemporary garden within the historical setting.

1. How important is it to you to combine design aesthetics and sustainability within your work?
It is essential. I always work with aesthetics and sustainability in mind. I am attentive and respectful of the surroundings I work in. Comfort will generate an aesthetic in our home. In the same way, attention to the earth that carries us brings up choices one can describe as aesthetic.

2. When designing a project, what environmental aspects do you endeavor to incorporate and respect?
I prefer doing things manually. I use no chemicals of any kind. Improvements are always organic. I always have in mind the low maintenance of a future landscape.

3. In what ways do you promote a more ecologically conscious way of life, both in your home and at work?
My ecological awareness is often upset as I drive a car and travel frequently by plane…

4. Do you have a personal “green” ritual?
I pick up seeds all the time, whether on a walk in the country at a friend’s place, on a road side or on my trips. My pockets are always full of them!

 

www.louisbenech.com

green-living green-living
Chateau de Pange and Villandry, Bosquet du Théâtre d'Eau Versailles Watercolor
Eric Sander, Fabrice Moireau
green-living green-living
Rory and Melita Hunter
Rory and Melita Hunter
 

RORY AND MELITA HUNTER

Australian husband and wife team Melita and Rory Hunter, founders of the eco-luxe Song Saa Private Island resort located in Cambodia’s untouched Koh Rong archipelago, have raised the bar for sustainable luxury.

Melita, an interior designer and artist specialising in organic sculpture, is the design talent behind the resort while Rory, a successful property developer and marketing executive, is intent on preserving the environmental integrity of the place.

Spread over two islands, there are recycling and waste initiatives in place and a team of microbiologists is employed to preserve the tropical reefs.

They have also started the Song Saa Foundation to promote sustainable development and community wellbeing, including health and education services, throughout the archipelago.

With its rain forest, white beaches, spas, yoga and meditation spaces and Buddhist traditions, Song Saa stands out as a sanctuary of uncompromising luxury.


1. How important is it to you to combine design aesthetics and sustainability within your work?
Design aesthetics and sustainability within our work is very important. I like to feel connected to my surroundings and to know that any designs we do have a sense of belonging – everything must look and feel “right”. I love for a space to unfold slowly over time. The more times you walk into a room, the more attention to detail you discover. This is a wonderful way to find the perfect balance between design aesthetics and sustainability. I absolutely love textures – under foot, to sit on, lie down on, eat off and drink out off. Whether they are silky smooth, rough textures, it doesn’t matter as long as it’s authentic to the experience. When working with sustainably sourced materials, texture is extremely important as it immediately gives the design and constructed environment away – it must feel authentic – whether it is a luxury item or recycled objects, texture matters.

2. When designing a project, what environmental aspects do you endeavor to incorporate and respect?
We incorporate the local artisans and locally sourced materials. We take inspiration from the local surroundings by way of easily accessible, locally sourced materials, all to ensure that the design has a sense of place, whilst remaining true to giving its own unique identity.

3. In what ways do you promote a more ecologically conscious way of life, both in your home and at work?
In the food we eat – we always endeavor to eat locally sourced and seasonal foods over foods shipped in from over-seas. An excess of half a million dollars has been spent on conservation efforts at the resort and we have recently founded a separate organisation called the Song Saa Foundation. The team behind the foundation – made up of five community development specialists and marine biologists – are implementing initiatives to build upon the original work in helping the surrounding communities. Recent achievements include the expansion of the original marine reserve to 100 times the size, setting-up a mid-wifery clinic in the local community and providing solar power to the local school. From May 2014, Song Saa will introduce a new concept of small group philanthropic tours with all proceeds creating funds for the Foundation. “Change Travellers” will enjoy all the luxuries of Song Saa Resort whilst participating in pioneering conservation and community projects.

4. Do you have a personal “green” ritual?
Our whole life is focused on sustainability…

 

www.songsaa.com

green-living green-living
Song Saa Private Island
Song Saa Resort
green-living green-living
Keith Recker
Keith Recker
 

KEITH RECKER

“Creativity, ancient or modern, is the answer to the challenges of the 21st century,” says Keith Recker, founder and editor of Hand/Eye Magazine, a unique publication dedicated to global creativity that profiles artists, ancient craft cultures and design innovation from around the world.

A non-for-profit agency, Hand/Eye’s mission is to reach far and wide, supporting skilled artisans in their struggle to earn a decent livelihood, build local economies, preserve ancient traditions and revive forgotten trades.

From meeting the Dhokra artisans of Dhenkanal to showcasing chic accessories made from recycled materials in India, Hand/Eye is an intelligent, vibrant and visual resource, testimony to Recker’s unerring dedication to ethical and sustainable design. In 2009, Recker set up the Hand/Eye Fund, for which he serves as president to allocate grants to artisans worldwide.

Based out of the US, Recker also works for Pantone and WGSN in London as a colour and trends consultant, and is co-author of Pantone: The Twentieth Century in Color. Before launching Hand/Eye, he worked at Bloomingdale’s and Saks Fifth Avenue, at the helm of home furnishings.

 


1. How important is it to you to combine design aesthetics and sustainability within your work?
There are so many people doing beautiful work today in every design discipline. And there are quite a few people doing interesting work in sustainable design. To focus on both simultaneously is still unusual, however, and it is my mission to make sustainable beauty the rule, rather than the exception.

2. When designing a project, what environmental aspects do you endeavor to incorporate and respect?
Pursuing sustainability brings the wellness of people and planet into harmony. I look for joy in the making of a thing, which requires a certain amount of cultural integrity. I look for design, which brings inventiveness and freshness. And of course I look for materials and processes whose impact on the environment is as modest as possible.

3. In what ways do you promote a more ecologically conscious way of life, both in your home and at work?
We are pursuing a principle of buying little, but buying well, in order to reduce our consumption and therefore our impact. If we can imagine living with something for 10 or 20 years rather than a season, it right for us. It means we really look for narrative, for story, for a depth that will delight in the long term.

4. Do you have a personal “green” ritual?
Working in my garden is my ritual for nine months of the year. Coaxing peonies, irises and dahlias into bloom brings joy to me, and everyone who visits us.

 

www.handeye.com

green-living green-living
Visuels Keith Recker
Keith Recker
green-living green-living
Todd Saunders
Jan Lillebõ-Bergens
 

TODD SAUNDERS

Canadian born architect Todd Saunders is known globally for his experimental designs, using traditional methods of craft and sustainable technology. Living and working in Norway, his company Saunders Architecture has won several important awards, including the Hise Award for Sustainable Excellence in 2011. The same year the Huffington Post named Saunders among the five greatest architects under 50.

Their projects, whether private, public or institutional, evoke a vibrant ecological ambition. Take for example the five artist studios built on a remote island off Newfoundland, which are expected to have a shelf life of a few generations or so, before disintegrating without a trace – the ultimate gesture of giving back to nature. The Fogo Islands Inn, also in Newfoundland, brings traditional wood architecture into the realm of modernity with sharp forms and strong textures.

With projects across Norway, England, Denmark, Italy and Sweden, Saunders unique vision is uncompromising, original, redefining how we relate to ecological architecture.


1. How important is it to you to combine design aesthetics and sustainability within your work?
It is quite important. My first ecological education was in town planning. I spend a lot of time in the mountains and I deeply feel that the landscape shouldn’t be harmed. When you build, you have to destroy some of it, which is why one has to be careful about the process. It is the seriousness behind what we do.

2. When designing a project, what environmental aspects do you endeavor to incorporate and respect?
I build a lot of private houses and work closely with the client, taking care to keep the environment pristine. Once the job is finished, the whole natural landscape should look better!

3. In what ways do you promote a more ecologically conscious way of life, both in your home and at work?
I take the train to work. I bike a lot. We try to eat mostly fish and ecological food. I spend a lot of time with my family in a 1799’s cabin in the mountains. It was going to be destroyed so I bought and restored it. When we stay there in the summer I cut my own firewood for the cooking.

4. Do you have a personal “green” ritual?
Most of my hobbies are “green” so to speak. I hike and spend all of my free time in the nature. I am designing my own house. Built on stilts and cubes, it will look as if it were floating above the landscape. It will have a bicycle workshop and a library, as one of my favorite occupations is to read.

 

www.saunders.no

green-living green-living
Fogo Inn, Retreat, Long Studio
Iwan Baan, Bent Renè Synnevag, Todd Saunders

Other articles you will appreciate

  • I
    In Bed With Jack Savoretti and Jemma Powell
    In Bed With Jack Savoretti and Jemma Powell
  • I
    In Bed With Tyler Alexandra Ellis
    In Bed With Tyler Alexandra Ellis
  • F
    Five Minutes With Fran Hickman
    Five Minutes With Fran Hickman
  • I
    In Bath With
    Jean-Louis Deniot
    In Bath With </br> Jean-Louis Deniot
  • I
    In Bed With
    In Bed With