July 11, 2017

Healthy Materials Lab at NeoCon 2017

Felicity Lu-Hill

For almost 50 years, thousands of design professionals from around the country have come to Chicago to participate in NeoCon. For those unfamiliar, NeoCon is like the SXSW Conference for interior designers. Essentially, it’s the place to see and be seen for people in the interior design industry. For three days, interior design’s latest trends, technologies, and products are exhibited in a huge one million foot exhibition space, and this year Healthy Materials Lab was one of the participants.

Healthy Materials Lab was invited to showcase healthier materials as part of Interiors & Sources’ exhibition, Materials Pavilion. The Lab created awareness for the toxics that are frequently an invisible part of materials and interiors. Chemicals such as formaldehyde (a known carcinogen) and Volatile Organic Compounds (compounds that become vapors and transmit hazardous chemicals into the air) are often found in common products used in interiors.

The Lab’s primary mission at NeoCon was twofold:

  1. To showcase a selection of materials we know to be healthier

  2. To educate on what makes these materials the better choice

From flooring to paint to insulation, the Lab is committed to making every part of the interior design process accounted for in contributing to a healthier (and more sustainable) space. These are the materials that Healthy Materials Lab displayed at NeoCon.

From flooring to paint to insulation, the Lab is committed to making every part of the interior design process contribute to a healthier (and more sustainable) space.

  • Bark House - Interior and exterior designed wall panels made solely of bark, this product is the first ever Cradle to Cradle Platinum Certified product, as it meets all five certifications: material health, material reutilization, renewable energy and carbon management, water stewardship, and social fairness.
  • Biomason - Made from materials that grow into cement bricks. It maintains zero CO2 emissions, using nutrients and materials obtained from natural, renewable resources.
  • Cirrus and Cirrus High NRC Ceiling by Armstrong - Made with 73% recycled content, this acoustic ceiling panel is Living Building Challenge Compliant, and can contribute to LEED certification.
  • Denim Insulation by Ultratouch - Consisting almost entirely of natural denim and cotton fibers that are 100% recyclable, UltraTouch’s denim insulation maintains 80% post-consumer recycled content. Manufactured with minimal energy and VOC-free, the insulation meets the highest ASTM testing standards for fire and smoke ratings, fungi resistance, and corrosiveness.
  • Ecor Board - An Advanced Environmental Composite Panel, Ecor Board is manufactured by combining office waste, forest waste and other waste materials under intense pressure and heat. The result is a strong and versatile composite panel that is 100% bio-based, recyclable, and Cradle to Cradle compliant. Ecor Board’s strength allows for a variety of uses.
  • Havelock Wool Insulation by Havelock Wool - Natural sheep fibers have evolved over time to offer protection from both heat and cold, creating the perfect sustainable source for insulation.
  • Hempcrete by American Lime Technology - Made of the inner core of the hemp plant (also known as the “Shiv”) and a lime-based binder, Hempcrete is a bio-composite insulation material. Hemp is a rapidly-renewable resource which doesn’t require pesticides or fungicides.
  • Linoleum-Marmoleum by Forbo - Made from 97% natural material, half of which is recycled, this flooring resists twice as much allergens as other flooring.

Manufacturers and design professionals may begin to think differently about the materials they use while building spaces.

  • Milk Paint - Made with milk protein, mineral pigments, and other natural ingredients, Milk Paint has been used for centuries, harkening back to how furniture was painted in Colonial America. It does not contain the VOC’s found in acrylic paints.
  • MycoBoard made by Ecovative - This board is made durable using wood chips and mycelium as “glue,” which has inherent fire-resistant properties.
  • Nora Rubber Flooring - Made from virgin rubber, this flooring is Greenguard Gold Certified for low VOC emission and contributing to healthier indoor air quality, due to its durable nature, and no need for chemical finishes.
  • Purebond Plywood - Made in North America, PureBond Plywood is constructed without added formaldehyde.
  • Quiet Tech insulation by CarpetCycle - Made from 90% recycled materials, Quiet Tech is Greenguard Gold Certified for ultra low emissions. It’s also mold and mildew resistant, and contains no formaldehyde.
  • ReWall - Made of 100% recycled material, free of VOCs, this is a great alternative to gypsum wallboard.
  • Roma Paint - A healthy alternative to acrylic paints, this mineral paint is VOC-free, toxin-free, odorless, asthma-free, and naturally mold-resistant. RomaBio mineral paint is made from natural, raw materials and manufactured without toxic chemicals.
  • Thermacork - Made from 100% sustainable cork, Thermacork is actually carbon negative, which means the process of building the product generates less carbon than it consumes, resulting in a negative carbon footprint. It also contains no added chemicals and is a superinsulator for efficient heating and cooling.
  • Wheatboard by Kirei USA - A perfect alternative to wood, Kirei Boards are made of reclaimed sorghum straw and no-added-formaldehyde adhesive to create a strong, lightweight, and environmentally-friendly finish for both furniture and interior design elements.

It’s important to note that every company that manufactures these products also prides itself on design. For example, Milk Paint creates a classic look using a matte finish for walls, cabinetry, and new and old furniture. Bark House advertises how each of their panels is unique, because bark is unique. Healthy Materials Lab believes that beauty and health are not mutually exclusive. On the contrary, as with people, beauty and health go hand in hand.

By promoting these materials at NeoCon, Healthy Materials Lab shows how every part of a design can be viewed through the lens of health and sustainability. From this exhibition, manufacturers and design professionals may begin to think differently about the materials they use while building spaces, and become aware of the impact they make in every step of the design and building process. Ultimately, designers will realize that caring for their clients, and the occupants of their spaces, means knowing the ingredients of their materials, like knowing the ingredients in food.


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