Design Ideas That Matter: Q&A with Architect Eric Corey Freed
An in-depth interview with one of our favorite architects from 2017.
Note: We featured 14 innovators in the world of home design in our April issue, but didn’t get a chance to share everything they said on page. Over the next week, we’re sharing in-depth interviews with three of the subjects. The third is below. See the first one here and the second here.
To say that architect Eric Corey Freed is passionate about sustainable design would be an understatement. In fact, he believes so strongly that all construction in the future will inevitably go green that he’s issued a Living Building Challenge amongst his architectural colleagues. In a forward thinking twist, these buildings must produce more energy than they consume to meet the challenges’ strict, way beyond LEED standards.
But Freed doesn’t think that a more eco-friendly future falls exclusively on the shoulders of architects and designers. Instead, he says, it should extend to leaders in every industry, from mobile phones to apparel to cars.
As you’ll see from our conversation, he’s well on his way to leading the charge.
Thinking about production, energy/waste, etc. what product category (clothing, electronics, etc.) would you most like to see revolutionized in the next few years?
I’d love to see every category build products using only healthy materials that can be repurposed, but if I had to choose a favorite, it would be to see a radical re-design of the automotive industry. Cars have a huge impact on air quality and dependence on fossil fuels, but also they are made with the most toxic chemicals and plastics imaginable. You know that new car aroma? That’s cancer you smell.
How soon do you think ecology and sustainable design will be a part of every architect’s schooling/formal training??
It can’t happen soon enough. There are several design schools that are taking a pioneering approach to incorporating ecology and design together, but they are still the outliers. In truth, every school needs to incorporate basic eco-literacy into every design curriculum. Architects, interior designers, industrial designers and graphic designers all need to be trained in how to apply their problem solving skills to protecting our environment.
If you weren’t working in sustainable architecture, what would you like to be doing right now?
In my free time, I’d love to spend it with my family. We have a 6-year-old daughter, and I love showing her new angles to looking at the world. We spend a lot of time talking about why things work the way they do, and how would she change it. I also love being on the road and lecturing to groups around the country. I learn so much from talking to a room full of people trying to incorporate these ideas into their local projects and feel like I can help them get there faster.
What are you reading/listening to right now? Who are you following online?
I use Prismatic to collate articles on design and sustainability for me that I read every night. It pulls from thousands of sources. I get inspiration from a dozen sites I follow, including Inhabitat and Fast Co.Design.
A perfect day in your city/town includes the following 3 things …
In Portland, Oregon, an ideal day is seated in the sun, with delicious eggs and biscuits at Pine State, a walk to the playground with my daughter, and then over to Avalon Wonderland Arcade to play 1970’s style arcade games with her.
What’s your mantra?
One is a quote: “A man is what he thinks about all day long” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
One is an approach: Respond, Don’t React.
And one is a philosophy: Share your passion and people will flock to your side to be part of it.
What has been the biggest surprise of your career so far?
I’m continually amazed at how close we are in agreeing on large issues (nearly everyone wants clear air and water), but how far apart we are in how to achieve those obvious goals. Part of the problem is politics trying to create tension when none exists, and another part is poor communication.
photo courtesy of Eric Corey Freed