July 13, 2021

Parsons Healthy Materials Lab and PA Hemp Home featured on America by Design TV

This summer, a new competition TV show has taken audiences around the country and shown them the best of American design. America by Design is a new television show about inspiration, disruption, and changing the world through the power of design.

America by Design has reviewed work across the nation, and featured everything from a smart sprinkler system, to a contraceptive counseling tool, to our very own PA Hemp Home.

Parsons School of Design was honored to be a partner this season, and HML’s co-Directors Alison Mears and Jonsara Ruth were both featured among the esteemed panel of judges that also included Herman Miller’s Chief Creative Officer, Ben Watson, Podcast host of “Design Matters”, Debbie Millman PepsiCo’s Chief Design Officer, Mauro Porcini, and Senior Vice President at Salesforce Nalini Kotamraju.

Twenty-nine innovations from around the country were chosen to be highlighted on the show and our PA Hemp Home collaboration in New Castle, PA made it to the top 10 innovations for the peoples choice award! We are thrilled to see the enthusiasm around using locally produced, healthy building materials used for housing those who need it most. To check out our segment, watch America by Design Season 1 Episode 2 below:

In the episode, HML co-Director Jonsara Ruth and Masters of Architecture student Meryl Smith take Will Hall through the PA Hemp Home project and give him all the details about what makes it so different from the usual affordable housing being built in the US.

Currently, our homes are built primarily from petroleum based materials that are harmful to our bodies, and to the environment. The construction of affordable housing in particular has been chronically underfunded and regulated by racist housing policies. Products like vinyl siding and foam insulation line the walls, and after years of widespread use these low-cost, substandard, and toxic building materials are now directly linked to more serious health risks for low income families. Indoor air pollution within homes has resulted in an alarming rise in childhood asthma among other health concerns.

The PA Hemp Home is built differently. A hemp-lime mix creates breathable, highly insulated walls, producing a house that is durable and offers increased comfort compared with currently available housing. The plant and mineral based material is naturally flame retardant and anti-microbial, eliminating the need for any added toxic chemicals. HempLime walls continuously absorb odors, toxics, and carbon dioxide from the air making the indoor air cleaner than the air in buildings made from typical petrochemical based building materials. These new climate resilient, affordable houses will serve as innovative prototypes for future local housing and expand uses for hemp.

But the PA Hemp Home wasn’t the only way Parsons School of Design was featured. MFA Interior Design student Monica Perez Ku was selected as a presenter on the show and was given the opportunity to speak to the audience about the importance of design throughout several episodes. Product designer and Parsons alum Yuri Ha, currently at Salesforce, also makes an appearance on the show.

The season finale is on July 17th, 2021. Be sure to check it out on CBS or YouTube and see all the great new innovative designs America has to offer.

Check out for your local listings.

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