Green Pioneers Interview: Tristan Titeux on Eco Furniture

To help celebrate the work of green pioneers and share great environmental achievements with the world we have decided to produce a series of interviews with a huge range of green champions from across the world.

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This week we’ve interviewed Tristan Titeux who has developed a range of eco furniture, which uses more environmentally friendly materials and reduces waste.

What do you do?

I design and build fitted furniture. In the winter of 2011 I decided to follow my heart and passion, which is for the environment and safeguarding it for my children and the future. I decided to bring out an eco friendly option for customers who feel the same. I researched materials and methods and really tried to uncover just how eco friendly they all are; I now take great interest in discovering all the different available eco materials around the world [you can find out about them here].

I also decided to look into the waste we were producing as a fitted furniture company. We use big sheets of wood that are cut up to make things like wardrobes, bookcases and home offices and are often left with lots of small useless pieces. I took inspiration from the materials and concluded that the most environmentally friendly method was to use as many of the small pieces as possible so that very little would be thrown away. This is how the Milo series of furniture was born: using pieces of wood glued together face to face, leaving just the ends and edges of the wood. It creates a really beautiful effect with all the varying colours and textures. I exhibited at the Surface Design Show and had a Milo shelf on display. Everyone kept coming up to the shelf and stroking it and asking questions. The way it leads people to ask questions about the materials is what I love about the Milo series. People often don’t know what many of these materials are, let alone where they come from and how they are made. It gives me great pleasure to explain all about them.

What is your background?

My father was an ecologist; he spoke about wild plants on the radio for many years and he taught me what nature has to offer us, we had our own garden for food, chickens and goats for eggs and meat. We picked mushrooms in the countryside and found salad leaves and medicine too. This experience cemented my deep care and understanding of nature.

Later on I moved back to London and worked as a photographer for 12 years. This very much helped my creative side, which now helps me when designing fitted furniture. I work very visually and can see if things look right just like when composing a picture in the camera.

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The first Milo table

What work have you done so far to develop your eco friendly line?

Milo was the first piece of furniture in the Milo series, and I have since then designed a larger Taro table that would go in front of a sofa, as well as many other bespoke pieces such as a wine display unit for the Naturally Chinese restaurant in Kingston, floating shelves for private clients and a bedside Milo table made from a client’s old wardrobe. We are currently building a huge Milo boardroom table and we have just finished making some awards and a lectern for the Pea business awards.

My dream would be to broaden the market for the Milo series and train disadvantaged young people to make them. I am already in talks with a charity that could make the latter part a reality.

I also give talks in schools and businesses that are really interested in learning more about eco materials and waste.

Why is this work important?

It is vital to get children and teenagers involved as early as possible, that is why I want to talk in schools more and get young people making Milo tables. As well as giving them practical skills, it would empower them to have made beautiful furniture that they are proud to have their name on. Children need to understand as early as possible about what is happening to the world. The mainstream media doesn’t offer enough of the truth of what is really going on and how serious it is. We all know that the world is warming and we are running out of natural gases, but people don’t realize how seriously affected we will be in the near future from pollution, deforestation and climate change. If I can help children to want to find solutions to all of this then they can take charge of our planet’s future.

What can people do to take part?

I would love visit more schools and give talks tailored to them about my work, the Milo table and eco materials. I would also welcome requests from anyone wanting to work with me to promote the eco range. People looking for eco fitted furniture (including children’s bedrooms) should check out my website: www.customcarpentry.co.uk. Anyone who wants advice on what eco materials and products they can use to transform their house into a dream eco home should go to www.EcoDesignerHome.com. This is my other website that helps curate local craftsmen, eco materials and products.

What green issues are you most passionate about?

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A football pitch sized area of Rainforest is chopped down every second

For me, green issues are actually a case of justice. I am passionate about green issues because I am passionate about justice to others and to the environment, so really that covers everything from food production to growing crops to making eco materials. It affects everything, the environment is everything, so I can’t pick one because it is one. One that is relevant to my work is the deforestation of the rainforests. Many materials, such as plywood, are still sourced from trees in the rainforests and we are losing an area the size of a football pitch every second in order to fill demand for it. This is simply not acceptable. Not only are rainforests the lungs of the world but also they contain so many species that could benefit mankind; from food to medicines and plants, there are materials that we will be able to use to replace plastics and petrol. To squander this resource as if there was no tomorrow is selfish. This is why it is so important to me to tell people about the all the many alternatives there are to using wood for making furniture. We can’t just rely on one type of material, we will need many.

Tristan is working with us to create some special eco book displays for our Books for Free centres, we look forward to sharing the results with you when they have been built.

Get On the Map!

Conservation Community launch event_Nov 12On Tuesday 27th November I attended my first event as part of the Healthy Planet team at the launch of the Conservation Community and the Get on the Map initiative, which attracted a full crowd of enthusiastic attendees to Google Campus London.

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Shaylesh Patel – click on image to enlarge

The Talks
The evening kicked off with an inspiring talk from Shaylesh Patel founder of Healthy Planet, with the hard-hitting line “for the first time since records began, our kids are on track to lead a shorter life than their parents’’ – what a way to engage an audience! Shaylesh passionately spoke about the greener and healthier choices that we, as individuals, can make to help create a better planet for future generations, and the wide variety of projects that Healthy Planet has initiated. Being a new intern at the organisation the success of the projects astounded me as much as the audience! The Books for Free initiative for example, has so far saved over 2 million books from being pulped or sent to landfill – that is a whole lot of books!

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Dr Mark Mulligan – click on image to enlarge

Next up on stage was Dr Mark Mulligan – lecturer at King’s College London and chair of the conservation advisory board for the Healthy Planet Foundation. Mark – clearly an avid conservationist – explained the core concepts behind the development of the Conservation Community which aims to combine knowledge, technology and people to actively get involved in conservation through the use of mapping and social networking. The online experience allows the user to choose projects to get involved in, create an online profile, interact with members and spread the word of conservation to the wider community. Amusingly the social media fanatics in the room all looked extremely excited at the prospect of creating a new online profile and being awarded with badges for frantically tweeting!

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Ed Parsons – click on image to enlarge

The final speaker of the evening was Ed Parsons – Google’s Geospatial Technologist – who ended the talks with a surge of optimism. He outlined the major impacts that technological advances have already had on increasing global communication and social interaction, and the positive knock on effects to global conservation. Ed continued to say that as technology continues to spread, we as individuals can build relationships with conservation projects that we care about, we can tackle local and global issues, and we can make a real impact on the natural world.

The Activities
AL0A4192The clearly inspired audience were then given the opportunity to make their own individual conservation hopes and dreams heard. To start, everyone was assigned to a team which reflected a current Conservation Community project – I was team Tiger to reflect the Phoenix Fund mission to conserve the Amur Tigers in the Russia Far East.

After learning about the different approaches Healthy Planet are undertaking to increase the conservation of each species, everyone was asked to think of their own conservation wish and attach the wish to the Healthy Planet Map – note the name of the initiative Get on the Map! Reading some of these wishes was definitely the highlight of my evening, seeing everyone talk about their favourite animals and what they would like to see done to help conserve our world for centuries to come was inspiring! All these wishes are online on flickr for everyone to view.

Conservation wishes

My personal favourite wish has to be “that future generations will be able to enjoy immense biodiversity both overseas and in the UK”.

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The Chat
The final part of the evening ‘networking’ was the part I was most dreading! Typically, when I’m nervous I stumble over my words and end up hiding in a corner, so the idea of approaching a complete stranger and plucking an intellectual conversation from thin air was terrifying! Fortunately for me however, whilst debating whether I was safer hiding in the ladies or under the stage, I was approached by a lovely young gentleman who too admitted to contemplating running to the foyer and texting his entire address book as a tempting solution to his nerves. Surprisingly I was much more at ease after this conversation – safety in numbers and all. Soon the buzz of the evening filled the air, the conversation (and wine) was easily flowing, ideas were bounding, and the growing interest in the Conservation Community was obvious.

Animal themed photo booth

Animal themed photo booth

The Food
The final triumph of the evening was the excellently chosen vegan canapé selection which was provided by Vegan Peasant Catering. The food was delicious, and that is coming from someone who usually shrivels away from a humus pot and anything resembling a vegetable. I can proudly say I tried Tahini Ganoush and Sage Crisp & Candied Lemon Zest on Crostini. In addition for anyone reading this who wants to spark a conversation with a group of powerful looking women –  go armed with a tray of Pink Sea Salted Brownies, women are like putty in your hands. See all the photos from the event on Healthy Planet Flickr.

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Find out more at on the Conservation Community Website our storify from the night or Follow Us on Twitter or Facebook!

You can watch the talks on You Tube Conservation Community launch by Healthy Planet at Google Campus

We are currently editing a short film by potentialproductions.org which will include excerpts from the event and mini interviews with the guests, watch this space.

Blog post written by Rhiannon Downer: Marketing & Communications intern at Healthy Planet