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Algae in Design: The Future of Healthy Indoor Spaces

Updated: Oct 26, 2023

When we think of air pollution, we picture 'the outside' - not realizing that our homes trap chemicals that we produce ourselves. A study done at the University of Texas measured the indoor air quality of a home over the course of cooking a traditional Thanksgiving dinner and found that as more dishes were finished and pulled out of the oven, the concentration of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in the house was so high that it qualified as 'very unhealthy' along the EPA's Air Quality Index. It stayed that way for an hour. If you're interested in reading more about this study, check out this brilliant article by the New Yorker.

This blog post isn't about raising fears of indoor air pollution, though. It's about what we can do about it. As the design and architecture world increasingly embraces unconventional materials to solve new problems, House of Tamanaha would like to propose live algae for your consideration. But let's first break down a bit of what indoor air pollution is, and why it matters:

  1. Sources of Indoor Pollution: Indoor air pollutants can originate from various sources such as household cleaning agents, paints, building materials, tobacco smoke, mold, pollen, and even the very furniture we use. Moreover, modern homes and buildings, designed for energy efficiency, often limit the flow of fresh air, allowing pollutants to accumulate.

  2. Health Impacts: Prolonged exposure to indoor pollutants can lead to a myriad of health issues, ranging from mild irritations like headaches and fatigue to more severe conditions like respiratory diseases, heart disease, and even cancer. Asthma and allergy sufferers are particularly sensitive to indoor air pollutants.

  3. Economic Impact: Besides health, poor indoor air quality also has an economic toll. Reduced worker productivity, increased sick days, and heightened healthcare costs all result from poor indoor air environments.

  4. Global Scale: According to the World Health Organization (WHO), nearly 4 million people die prematurely each year from illnesses attributable to household air pollution. This alarming statistic underscores the need for solutions that can improve our indoor air quality.

The good news is that with growing awareness, there is a concurrent rise in solutions designed to combat indoor air pollution. As we delve further into this article, we'll explore how the innovative use of algae in interior design can be a game-changer in this arena. This green powerhouse, often associated with ponds and oceans, is making waves in the world of interior design. Algae can not only beautify our spaces, but also enhance indoor air quality and reduce CO2 levels.

So why Algae? A Green Material with Multiple Benefits:

  1. Purification Powerhouse: Algae is a natural biofilter. When used in interiors, it actively absorbs carbon dioxide (CO2) and releases oxygen, thereby refreshing the air we breathe. Its unique photosynthetic abilities can substantially improve indoor air quality.

  2. Innovative Integration: From algae-infused wall panels to ceramic tiles, designers are coming up with clever ways to seamlessly incorporate this material into homes and commercial spaces. These innovations not only act as aesthetic features but also serve as living, breathing elements that contribute to a healthier environment.

  3. A Sustainable Choice: Algae grows rapidly, making it a renewable resource. By opting for algae-based products, we can reduce our carbon footprint and move towards more sustainable design practices.

People have already begun testing out different ways to integrate live algae into their interiors.

Algae in Action:

  1. Algae Wall Panels: Imagine a wall that not only complements your design palette but also cleans the air. Algae wall panels, often encased in transparent or semi-transparent mediums, allow light to pass, enabling the algae within to photosynthesize and work their magic.

  2. Algae-Filtering Ceramic Tiles: A novel approach to integrating algae is the introduction of algae-filtering ceramic tiles. These tiles contain micro-algae within, which continually works to purify the air while adding a unique design element to the space.

  3. Algae Furnishings: From lampshades to room dividers, incorporating algae into furniture pieces provides dual benefits: aesthetic appeal and air purification.

As we become more environmentally conscious, the demand for materials that serve dual purposes—beauty and functionality—will only grow. Algae, with its myriad benefits, fits this mold perfectly. By adopting algae-based designs, we not only enhance the aesthetic value of a space but also make a sustainable choice that benefits the planet and its inhabitants.

The future of interior design is green, and algae are leading the way. As we embrace this innovative material, we move a step closer to interiors that are not just about visual appeal but also about well-being, sustainability, and eco-consciousness. The next time you consider revamping your space, remember the humble algae, and how it might just be the breath of fresh air your interiors need.

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