AT Interview: Danny Seo

AT Interview: Danny Seo

Sep 12, 2007

On a recent weekday afternoon, green lifestyle expert Danny Seo arrived at the Method Home headquarters in San Francisco. Fresh from a photo shoot in Mill Valley, he had a stack of photos in his hands. As the Editor-at-Large of Country Home magazine, he often travels to homes across the country — helping to make them camera-ready.

We met at Method because he is now one of their "healthy home advocates." In addition to discussing his various green projects and nibbling on delicious mini-cupcakes (left over from an office baby shower), we got some great decorating and entertaining pointers from him.

Danny's home was featured in the April 2007 issue of Country Home. You can view more pictures here — and, trust us, you'll want to see them. They're fantastic.

Q: What's your house like?
A: It's a 1920s cabin-/bungalow-style home — like a charming treehouse — in Bucks County in Pennsylvania, along the Delaware River. It's 1100 square feet, and every room is used. I did a green renovation, piecemeal, that took about six months. There's recycled glass mosaic on the floors and shower stalls; IceStone counters; walnut cabinetry; Oceanside Glasstile in the kitchen; Energy Star-rated GE stainless steel appliances.

Q: Can you give us an example of something you styled, incorporating the use-what-you-already-have approach?
A: We took really elegant crystal — the kind of thing you register for when you get married and then never use — and filled them with pinecones. The juxtaposition is really interesting. I don't like to bring flowers to a photo shoot because I like to bring in things from the yard. I think it's pretty and more organic.

Q: An AT reader was wondering about non-hideous, green chandelier bulbs. Any recommendations?
A: Philips has a line called Marathon and they do chandelier bulbs.

Q: The cost of green products seems to scare people. What do you say to that?
A: Green doesn't have to be expensive. You just have to do the research. For example, if you see one natural mattress and it's $20,000, don't assume that every mattress is going to be $20,000. There are cheaper ones, at places like Sleepy's even.

And shop the sale and clearance areas — just like you would normally.

Q: What sites do you recommend?
A: Vivaterra, Gaiam. They're always having sales.

Q: Any other good resources?
A: Goodwill in weird little towns. In urban areas, you have pickers hired by the vintage stores who go through everything. In Pennsylvania, I go to the Goodwill in the Amish communities and find great stuff. Like this rusty old washtub that I got for free. It makes the perfect outdoor bar.

Q: Favorite online resources for information?
A: The EPA website, Earth911, the Wall Street Journal for factual information.

Q: What green product are you really excited about right now?
A: There's this water bottle and filter that you can buy for $12. The filter can be used about 200 times. Let's say you usually buy a bottle of water for $2. By filling this bottle with tap water and having it filtered with the screw-in filter, you've saved yourself several hundred dollars.

Q: So what are you working on now with Method?
A: Because their packaging is so innovative, I'm trying to figure out what to do with it when the product itself is done. With the Method Bloqs, you can fill them up with small seeds and use them to scatter seeds in your garden. If you take two of the teardrop handwash bottles, glue them together and fill them up with sand, you can turn them into an hourglass.

Q: What else are you working on these days?
A: The newest product, which is coming out in a few weeks, is the "Do Just One Thing" one-a-day calendar. It's made of 100 percent recycled materials. And the ideas are all simple, innovative and seasonal — truly practical things that I do in my own life. I won't tell you to go get solar panels, for example, because that's not really something you can do in a day. The last tip is actually my favorite: We give instructions on shipping the plastic container back to the manufacturer for recycling.

I also have a new decorating book that's already shooting, and that will be coming out in early 2009. And I'm also working on a home retail deal that will be announced soon.

Q: We've read your books, Simply Green: Parties and Simply Green: Giving. What are some of your favorite tips?
A: Stamping names or words on rocks. You go to Michael's and get the permanent ink. I have a set of vintage letter stamps that I like to use.

For a housewarming gift, I like to fill up a vintage bucket with Method products. Or, fill a bucket with oranges, champagne and a reamer. Wouldn't you like to get a mimosa kit?

As our interview with Danny came to a close, we were treated to a tour of the Method office. We previewed some of the products that are coming out this holiday season — including special scents (like Cinnamon Bark) and packaging (pretty metallics).

Other things we learned: The Aroma Sticks will be offered in a new shape, so you can create a cool little vignette with the simple white vases after the sticks are devoid of any scent. Aroma beads that are water-based (no petroleum!) will also be hitting the market soon.

During our tour, Danny offered yet another good tip that we hadn't thought of: "The Aroma Rings make a great car freshener — much better than those evergreen trees," he said. "You can just put it in your glove compartment."

That Danny. He always seems to have an innovative way of looking at things.

Images: Danny Seo, Country Home, Simply Green: Parties

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