Project Case Study: Sustainable Interior Renovations

Erika Doering Design
Adjunct Associate Professor
Industrial Design

Erika Doering – Tour from Pratt CSDS on Vimeo.



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“My clients are my biggest inspiration and resource – their culture, personal treasures and individual style. We work together to preserve what they have while creating new ways of living. Many people come to us without a green agenda and in the end, fall in love with the choices and ideas presented to them.” – Erika Doering (taken from her website [HYPERLINK:])

Brooklyn-based designer, Erika Doering, focuses her work on sustainable interior renovations for both residential and commercial clients. Since establishing her firm in 1995, this adjunct associate professor, makes sure she brings smart, innovative sustainable and economical solutions to all of her clients. Her sustainable renovations have a serious focus on materials, energy and water conservation, and sunlight optimization. She also makes sure to work with local materials. Everything comes from within a 500 mile radius of the project she is working on.

As Doering tells us, “If I can’t find it, I build it or make it.” Because of this philosophy Doering has built a solid rolodex of innovative sustainable resources; including, artisans, fabricators, distributors and suppliers. With her sustainable expertise in tow, Doering finds inspiration in her clients’ personalities in order to create personal and flexible spaces that always stick to the triple bottom line.

Compared to Traditional Methods:

Erika Doering Design is dedicated to sustainability every step of the way within her renovations. Doering makes sure that all of her renovations will have an optimized lifetime; no apartment or space is renovated if it is merely going to be flipped, sold, and gutted by the next tenant. Doering makes sure she tests products to make sure they are durable and will last. She often uses her own apartment as an “experiment space.” For example, she has put sample boards in her own home and made sure to invite guests over to walk on the boards to make sure they will last.

Doering finds traditional materials to be aggressively problematic. She doesn’t us anything that contains PVC, derives from a rain forest or depletes from the earth’s natural resources. Energy efficient lighting, low-impact materials, and found/or recycled objects and materials are constantly incorporated into Doering’s work. When renovating a space she always makes sure that the original materials found in the space are not taken to the dump, but rather recycled via various means. Doering does extensive research to find the most up-to-date sources of renewably sustainable, renewable and recycled materials.

Doering believes in supporting local artisans and supplies. The materials and products she works with usually come from within a 500 mile radius of each project. She is currently working with Hanson and Stone Source, two architectural finishing companies, to help them source solid green materials and test these materials with other architects.

Project Highlights:

Doering’s Own Apartment:
Doering uses her apartment as a place to not only test sustainable materials, but also to showcase her work. One of the most notable components of Doering’s apartment is the salvaged wood floor. After the record damage that Hurricane Floyd left on New York City, Long Island, and upstate New York, Doering salvaged blown over cedar trees as means to efficiently reuse materials and create a beautiful space. She harvested and chopped the trees she collected, put them in boiler rooms around New York City and left them for 6 weeks to dry for use. When they were ready, Doering grouted the wood into her floor with sawdust from a local mahogany window manufacturer.
The counter tops in Doering’s apartment are from a local concrete fabricator and made from glass bottle rounds that she cut after collecting wine and alcoholic beverage bottles from her building’s recycling bins. The pulls on all of her counter tops were originally mahogany scrap boards. There is also American clay finish on a few of Doering’s walls, which is a sustainable alternate to old lime plaster.
Chelsea Apartment for a Sailor/Writer

With an incredibly limited amount of room to work with, Doering treated this space like the hull of a sail boat. Everything in the apartment was designed in order to use the optimum amount of space and to coincide with how her client, both a sailor and a writer, lived and worked from home. Daylight was capitalized in this space by rearranging walls and creating more ways for light to hit all surfaces. Doering played further into the high-seas inspiration by using appropriate colors and materials. She juxtaposed stormy sea and earthy olive colors against the bright white of the newly optimized sun light and incorporated art glass materials. According to Doering, “Everything in this apartment was designed for space efficiency.”

Midwood, Brooklyn Apartment for Expecting Couple

Protecting the health of her clients’ new infant was an added incentive to find sustainable and low-impact materials for this space. Additionally, the colors were very intense in this space, which inspired Doering even further to find alternative material solutions. Doering used low VOC paints, Icestone and bamboo cabinets, and natural linoleum floors. Doering designed a stool for the kitchen made out of old soccer balls that were thrown out by Packer Collegiate private school in Brooklyn. The green, white and yellow floor tiles in the powder room were made from recycled airplane windshields.