Luxurious interior designs are often seen as the ultimate in ‘brown’ design. There is a definite green style that has made its way into the sector, and while its modernity and simplicity is a breath of fresh air, it is important for designers to understand and convey to clients that environmentally responsible design is not stuck following one particular aesthetic.
The recently-completed Independente Hostel and Suites located in Lisbon, Portugal emphasizes this point. This mish-mash of what could be described as ‘trash and treasure’ manages is home to an interior design that has its own class and style.
The building functions as a hostel, or travellers’ dormitory, that mixes the luxury and affluence of the building itself – it was originally the mansion of a former Swiss Ambassador – with the low-budget whimsy of particleboard bunk beds, reclaimed wood interior architecture and mismatched furnishings.
The building itself is a low-embodied energy construct given the fact that much of the interiors are reclaimed and the building itself minimally redeveloped.
A total of 13 dorm rooms cater to 108 beds, which means the building space is not only functional and efficient, it is also highly affordable.
The mix of luxury and thrift is epitomised through the juxtaposition of raw wood bedding and the stark white molded ceilings, which combine to create a space that is elegant yet comfortable.
The proprietors say their goal is to “bring the Lisboetas back to a domain that was historically inhabited by previous generations some decades ago: the world of hospitality, in this case in the shape of a hostel.”
This fusion of old and new world strikes a perfect balance, allowing neither garish luxury nor spartan modesty to dominate the space.
The key element to take away from this example is that being energy efficient, sustainable and environmentally responsible does not automatically limit aesthetic opportunities. Green design is a mentality and a practice, not a style.
When the notion of green design is pigeonholed, design opportunities are missed and innovation is lost.