What does it mean to be a sustainable interior designer? Megan Norgate of Brand New Eco is an Interior Designer, Permaculture Designer and a Sustainable Design Consultant. We chatted with Megan about being resourceful and her mantra of ‘minimum change for maximum benefit’.

Why Brave New Eco?

People come to me because they don’t want to wipe away history. Our clients want to be optimistic about the future and at the same time treasure who they’ve been up to that point. Our approach is holistic and generous – we’re interested in how humans will be able to live in the future and we’re keen to share our ideas so that that future can be the best possible one.

What does permaculture have to do with interior design?

Permaculture is a design philosophy consisting of 3 core ethics and 12 core principles. These can be applied to any design problem. It’s often associated with productive landscapes but ultimately it’s a system of key values for living. For example, ‘stacking function’ is one of the 12 core values. When applying a solution to a problem we make sure it solves 3 problems not just 1. For every part of the solution we question ‘is this necessary?’, ‘is it worthwhile?’

How do you start a project with a new client?

It’s a very client driven process. We get people to be quite philosophical about why they want to change their home and we question why have they come to us? We ask clients to think about who they are rather than what they want. We don’t encourage people to go searching through Pinterest and the latest trends to choose their new style. We believe your family home should look like you’ve made a lot of good decisions over a period of time. For example, we encourage clients to think about their values and the way they want to live in their home. It might be that they love to spend time together at night after dinner playing games; or that a quiet place to work is needed. Rather than purely aesthetic choices, we’re pursuing a lifestyle within the space.

‘Minimum change for maximum benefit’…

We pride ourselves on being resourceful. We do this by taking a careful, analytical approach to design, without forgetting how it all looks at the end of the process. This can require being more modest and humble. Instead of simply adding more space to solve problems, we first look at the existing space and design it better.

Are people interested in sustainable buildings?

I’ve been doing this for 15 years. It was a hard sell 15 years ago but now there’s huge interest and it’s a more main stream offering. What used to be considered unnecessary expenditure – sustainable materials, double glazed windows, high efficiency appliances, levels of insulation – are now fairly standard inclusions.

Is there a number one design element you have to get right?

Spatial layout resolution. If you don’t get that right, you have wasted your biggest opportunity for transformation. The design element that can have the single biggest impact in a space is natural light. It creates the ‘gasp’ moment when you move into a home. We consider transitions between old and new; line of site; flow; opening to north and green aspects. Layout and aspect – these are transformative.

What are your tips for furnishing a home?

Most of my jobs are built. We might source some select furnishings but we don’t believe in doing the whole lot at once! I refer to this as emotional durability of design choices. If you just buy something because you’ve seen it in a shop and it’s the latest trend you’re more likely to fall out of love with it. If you select pieces over time and that mean something to you, those things will have more emotional durability. Second hand furniture is the same. It has a design history and a story. When buying furniture it should be a considered decision with the mindset you are buying an heirloom.

What do you think of the Two Design Lovers second hand furniture marketplace?

Timewise it has become onerous for us to try to source something second hand. We can’t jump in the car and go around picking things up. The Two Design Lovers offering – curated, delivery organised, inspections possible – that’s very attractive to us!

What do you love on Two Design Lovers right now?

The Stephen Kenn Inheritance Sofa and the Koskela Quadrant Soft Sofa, because I appreciate the sustainability initiatives of both of these brands, and like the items even more as they are second hand. It is so satisfying to give something a second life.

Get to know more about Megan Norgate and Brave New Eco

Website: https://www.braveneweco.com.au/

Instagram: @braveneweco

Images have been printed with the permission of Megan Norgate.

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