The Donghia healthier Materials Library and the Healthy Materials Lab at Parsons instigated, in the Fall 2016 semester, a series of Lunch + Learns with a focus of introducing the healthiest materials and products available to designers throughout Parsons and The New School. The criteria for manufactures were that their products would be chlorinated-polymer free, have complete transparency and that the companies be open to a convivial discourse around material health. The ultimate goal of this partnership is to create a more robust material library and offering extra curricular education to students and faculty through Lunch + Learns seemed an ideal opportunity to achieve this while allowing faculty and industry professionals CEU credits for attending.
Despite a demanding academic schedule the Lunch + Learns were keenly received amongst the students and faculty with an impressive response for each session. The manufacturers that presented in the first series were MechoSystems, Nora Systems Inc. and Forbo Flooring Systems. Each of these companies have been operating for decades and are dedicated to transparency, health and sustainability believing that these issues cannot be separated when discussing the products they develop. MechoSystems who create EcoVeil - PVC free, Greenguard and C2C certified shade cloth - gave a presentation on the performance and environmental profiles of the materials in their shade cloths. Nora Systems Inc. a leading manufacturer worldwide, presented their resilient rubber flooring and Forbo Flooring Systems presented Marmoleum, their natural linoleum which is biobased, highly durable, non-toxic, anti-microbial with easy maintenance. These products are associated with sustainability, durability, high quality and innovative design with solutions for virtually any type of application.
Each presentation offered an in depth history of the product and manufacturing process through the lens of recycling and material health. We opened these events and conversations around products and materials to a broad Parsons audience, as we believe all disciplines can learn from the vision of the companies and their approach to health and the built environment. The upcoming series in Spring 2017 will include manufacturers of packaging materials and textiles as we expand the discussion beyond the built environment to a broader audience of designers, the current and future decision makers in the design industry.