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Credit: Courtesy of Laura Baross
In partnership withSamsung

Class of 2020: Laura Baross Doesn’t Believe That Sustainable Design Is Just a Trend

updated Nov 21, 2019

Who: Laura Baross, interior designer and founder of Design With Care
Nominated by: Laura Schocker, Apartment Therapy Editor-in-Chief
Where to follow her: Instagram

Apartment Therapy’s Class of 2020 Design Changemakers is a specially-selected group of the 20 people in the design world everyone should know about by next year. We asked experts (and you!) to tell us who they think should be included—see the rest of the nominees here.

Why Laura is part of the Class of 2020: “I first learned about Laura Baross’s work in a zero-waste house tour we featured earlier this year. Baross, the founder and designer of the sustainable design practice Design w Care, is focused on making green design both accessible and beautiful. ‘Sustainability has been considered trendy lately, but it’s not the color palette or design aesthetics that make it eco-friendly,’ she told the site for another tour in September. Her thoughtful approach to all aspects of her design process matches that of Samsung, our presenting partner for the Class of 2020, which is why she had to be included in this series. Her work feels both inspiring and doable at the same time — the kind of actionable, sustainable change we need going into 2020.” —Laura Schocker, Apartment Therapy Editor-in-Chief

The future of design can’t be all about looks: Our environment is an increasingly urgent concern, and that includes the environments we create at home. Laura Baross founded her sustainable design practice, Design w Care, to combine these two ideas into beautiful and eco-conscious interiors. In creating her sleek, modernist designs, she uses less waste and emphasizes the reuse of the treasures already all around us—including what’s already in the home. Hence the Design w Care motto: “Refuse, Reuse, Reduce.” 

We first fell for Laura’s conscientious aesthetic when we saw her remodel of Alec and Liina’s airy Tribeca apartment. Laura didn’t just redo the space; she also helped Alec and Liina evolve their mindset around interiors and shift to a more minimalist, less wasteful lifestyle. Laura kept most of the couple’s furniture, re-upholstering or restyling what needed a facelift and getting creative with DIYs and vintage items. She also pared way back on their decor, which lets the best pieces—like the eco-conscious MushLume pendant lights, grown from mushrooms!—stand out. 

Hopefully technology will help us turn every industry green.

Laura Baross

Laura thinks of every stage of the process, even having conversations with vendors about shipping items with less packaging. “One of the benefits of buying from smaller/sustainable brands, for example on Etsy, is that we can have a conversation and ask them to ship plastic-free,” she says. Design w Care helps clients approach sustainable design from numerous angles, including furniture selection and color consulting. 

As an influencer in the sustainable design world, Laura uses her Instagram platform and blog to share tips and recommendations for living with less waste and decorating more consciously. Laura is a natural fit for the Class of 2020 with her commitment to greener living that doesn’t sacrifice style. She’s also savvy about how technology can make our homes and lives more energy-efficient and streamlined, as well as less wasteful. These principles are also central to Samsung’s design philosophy in creating energy-efficient appliances for smarter living. We asked Laura about her design inspiration and what the future holds for Design w Care.

Apartment Therapy: What do you remember as being design inspirations growing up? What is your inspiration now?

Laura Baross: Growing up in Europe, I would always wander the streets looking at old houses and imagining stories of families that lived there decades ago. I believe my current appreciation for vintage and secondhand items is actually deeply rooted in this romantic feeling of nostalgia combined with my love for jazz.

AT: Is there a project you’ve worked on that’s especially meaningful to you?

LB: There are a few! Every design project brings new challenges and possibilities to introduce eco-conscious decisions into a space. To be honest, as much as I enjoy building personal relationships with my clients during residential projects, at the end of the day, it’s only one family that gets to enjoy the benefits.  Working on commercial projects, we can positively impact a larger audience. At Based In co-working, for example, we introduced composting in their cafeteria, incorporated energy-efficient lighting and appliances, and applied eco-friendly finishes. The Package Free pop-up shop will also remain close to my heart. It was great to be part of the creative team on such a visionary project that has been influencing millions of people to reduce their waste.

AT: What three words would you use to describe your work or style?

LB: Warm, Minimal, With-Care

AT: What makes you feel at home in your own space?

LB: When I first moved to New York, I didn’t have any greenery in my apartment. I consider myself a spontaneous person and I guess it took some time for it to sink in that this is home base. Things fell in place the moment I got my first house plant. Plants really make people happy. In exchange for a little bit of love and care, they elevate our indoor spaces (where we spend 93% of our time) and serve as a great reminder of our roots: mother nature. 

AT: Where do you see the design world going in 2020?

LB: Just like the secondhand apparel market has doubled in the past 5 years, I’m hoping similar trends can be expected in the design industry. With more platforms offering preloved furniture and vintage items to choose from, our mission at Design w Care—to style spaces with low impact—will be even more feasible! I’m a huge believer that the majority of what we need in our homes has already been designed and created. So why spend more money and new resources on developing brand-new items when we could recover some of the 9.8 million tons of furniture waste that ends up in our landfills each year? To practice what we preach, we recently launched a growing Vintage Collection for every design and Earth lover. 

AT: Any big plans for 2020 or beyond you can share with us?

LB: Just to keep on designing spaces that bring people joy while keeping the future of our planet in mind. To combat overconsumption and thus overproduction, I’ve been trying to reflect on what’s causing it on an individual level. One can switch from fast products to more sustainable options, but loneliness and feeling disconnected is one of the reasons why we demand more and buy unnecessary stuff. Therefore Design w Care is hoping to create genuine connections and support one another IRL as well as online. We will be collaborating with inspiring people, sharing their stories, and giving them the opportunity to show their unique styles through curating their own vintage collections on Design w Care.

AT: How have you addressed the age-old challenge of making small spaces feel beautiful and comfortable?

LB: Less space represents less worries in a way. Let’s say you’re a new home owner with little furniture. I suggest to start slow. Get only the most functional items and add more after living in a space for a while. Instead of rushing into buying, you can also try subscribing to furniture. Feather provides a great solution to circulating furniture. Their services can come in handy when you’re switching apartments often, with each space requiring a different furniture layout.

AT: How can technology help make design greener?

LB: Hopefully it will help us turn every industry green. I think in the middle of worrying about climate change we’re forgetting that we’re going through an exponential curve of innovation. Between 2016 and 2022, we’ll make an equal amount of innovation as we made between 2000-2016 or in the whole 20th century. If you’re like me and don’t want to wait around for new tech, you can stick to the reduce-reuse-recycle mindset for now. But I’m hoping that technologically advanced solutions in architecture, design, and transportation within the next 5 years will help introduce green energy into our daily lives, thus reducing carbon emissions.

AT: What do you see as the future of home technology? Is there a particular aspect you’re excited about?

LB: Smart appliances that include power tracking or energy-efficient tech will make a huge difference moving forward. And let’s not forget lighting, heating, or water controls. In order to reduce our carbon footprint, I’m also hoping to see widespread electric vehicles delivering these objects to our homes.