Kelly LaPlante Sustainable Stylist to the Stars

With clients like Amy Smart, Ally Sheedy, Tiffani Thiessen and Michael Rapaport, Kelly LaPlante has designed interiors for some of the most demanding clients. With the founding principle that “Green is a standard, not a style,” LaPlante creates home and office spaces that move beyond boxy modern shapes and earth tones. Her rooms play with color, mix classic and au courant shapes, and celebrate their occupants’ green lives. LaPlante’s design work is on full display in her coffee-table book, Ecologique – The Style of Sustainable Design.

E Magazine: How did you come to be a celebrity interior designer?

Kelly LaPlante: I went to school for Interior Design in San Francisco, and then I started working for a high-end residential firm. This very altruistic fellow I knew pointed out that what I was doing wasn’t making a difference in the world—I was just getting pretty things for wealthy people. I love to create extraordinary, luxury environments, so I decided to go off on my own and start an eco-friendly design company at 22. I knew I had the goods, the desire and the willpower to do it.

E: What’s changed in the 10 years you’ve been working in interior design?

KL: Originally, it was mostly about reuse because there weren’t any luxury, high-end eco-designs; all that was out there were hemp futons and organic cotton. I would reupholster old furniture in luxury fabrics so at least I wasn’t sending something usable to the landfill. Now there are a ton of eco-fabric and furniture lines. I’m working on my own line for O Eco Textiles due out early 2009.

E: What are your rules for environmentally friendly, chic design?

KL: Reuse is first thing on the platform. At the Lexus Hybrid Suite in the Fairmont Hotel in Washington, D.C., I had a $250,000 budget, but I still reused as much furniture as I could. People in the luxury market overlook reuse all the time and that’s really wasteful. Local is really important, too. When we’re in NYC, we always tap local furniture makers. It doesn’t matter how eco it is, if you ship it across the country, there goes your carbon footprint!

E: What are some super-luxurious pieces that someone with a smaller budget can buy to get that high-end feel?

KL: Towels and robes are a great way to go. I love Nandina”s. There’s a great store called Bluehouse in Maryland and they have fanstastic things like vases and lovely throws, and everything is vetted by the company.

E: Do you think green design is a trend, or is it here to stay?

KL: In 10 years, green will be a standard; all design will be green. It’s the direction we have to go to make long-term solutions to address our planet’s crisis. Non-green products will be the exception not the rule, I’d say within five years. The last 18 months have been so dynamic and we’ve seen so much change. By 2018 the world will be a very different place.