Monday, February 8, 2010

Meet Designing Mom contributor: Erin

Happy Monday everyone! Today's post is long overdue and introduces a topic that I know all of you are passionate about. Out latest Designing Mom contributor is Erin Owes and her area of expertise is something I am really excited about: green living. Erin grew up with an appreciation of being environmentally responsible long before it became fashionable. And her background in architecture and green consulting lends itself so naturally to a clean, creative aesthetic and lifestyle. I can't wait to start sharing Erin's expertise with all of you. Please help me give a big welcome to her!


This most of all: ask yourself in the most silent hour of your night: must I write? Dig into yourself for a deep answer. And if this answer rings out in assent, if you meet this solemn question with a strong, simple "I must", then build your life in accordance with this necessity; your whole life, even into its humblest and most indifferent hour, must become a sign and witness to this impulse. Then come close to Nature. Then, as if no one had ever tried before, try to say what you see and feel and love and lose. -Letter 1, Letters to a Young Poet, Rilke

Although I do not write, I believe that most people who create feel a certain "I must." Doing it for a living is not easy, especially in this economy, but to many of us who have chosen this path, we feel we have no other option. As long as I can remember, I have had nights where I could not sleep because my head was swimming with ideas for a new project. Somewhere in the boxes from my childhood are plans on graph paper of dream houses I thought up and drew when I was in grade school. Later on in high school, I had amazing art teachers and went from a kid who constantly drew/painted/sculpted/made to someone who understood how important discipline and critique are to art and design. Although my parents always encouraged my creativity there was always the questions: can it be profitable? is it practical? Both of which I am still trying to answer... but there is still that nagging, "I must."

The first thing I want to see when I walk into someone's home is their bookshelf.
Here's the couple shelves where I keep most of my design books.

So cut ahead a few years, and here I am in Oakland with a husband and two kids, Caleb, 2.5, and Zoe, 5 months. Before Caleb was born, I worked for a large architecture firm in San Francisco. Right as I was getting ready to return, the economy crashed and the company began lay-offs. So rather than returning to work, I had Zoe. Oof. Interior architecture, which is what I got my degree in, is a great balance for me: it is creative yet logical, artistic yet practical. A good interior architect must be able to balance client requirements, budget, time constraints, sustainability and make it all look pretty in the end. I love this, it is like a big puzzle. Whereas art is deeply personal, design is the most successful when it improves the way someone else lives/works/functions.
Zoe is still in our room in her bassinet but will share this room with Caleb in a couple
of months. I made the quilt for him on the bed and the mirrors above the changing table and his
(soon to be Zoe's) crib were made by my husband's uncle.

Most moms are familiar with a values shift that happens when they have kids and its nothing new to say that many people become more interested in sustainability and the environment when they have children. When we bring little people into the world we want to provide a healthy place for them personally and we begin looking around at what we will be leaving for them. My father is an environmental engineer and it was not uncommon for dinner conversation to be about the merits of recycling or the need for conservation. My mother owned a childcare center for 25 years and believed way before it was popular in minimizing exposure to chemicals through the use of natural materials. The "green" discussion was all around me growing up and I am trying to continue that discussion with the choices I make for my children. Whether or not you believe in global warming or that we have reached peak oil, no one can deny that the parts of our planet that are left to nature are becoming smaller and smaller.

I am really excited to share ideas with you about what we can do to share nature with our children while protecting it and still being stylish. If you live in the Bay Area, I am beginning to consult with families regarding how they can "green" their homes. This involves a visit and a conversation about what your goals for your household are. This is especially useful if you need motivation or you have children that have health issues (such as asthma or allergies) that could benefit from a more "green" environment. You can reach me regarding these services at

Caleb has been fascinated with what's going on in the kitchen since he became aware that there was a
kitchen. He loves cooking with me, so I try to incorporate him in my baking projects as often as possible.
Even if this means 5x the mess.

Lots of bright colors, this room is happy and cheerful and fun.


aya said...

Welcome, Erin!! So looking forward to getting more green tips from you!

Kelley at My Island Wedding said...

charming! and i love that crib!!!

best of luck...

Tori Higa said...

welcome, erin! looking forward to your posts - no doubt that they will be both inspirational and useful!

mari said...

Good to "meet" you Erin!

Our Designing Moms said...

Welcome Erin!!

jengee said...

welcome erin! is that a kashigata mold on your bookshelf? it looks great!

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