Web Exclusives: Alumni Spotlight
|Jesse Johnson 93 launched Q collection
July 2, 2003:
that's good for you
Jesse Johnson '93 makes environmentally friendly sofas and chairs
By Jessica Dheere '93
Two years ago, when Jesse Johnson 93 set
about furnishing his Manhattan apartment, he looked for furniture
and fabrics that wouldnt harm the environment or his own health.
While shopping, he asked questions such as: Did the companies harvesting
the wood replant the forests they logged? Were the fabrics treated
with nontoxic dyes? Were the fibers organically grown? The answers
were always no.
The former investment banker and politics major
had just graduated from Yale with degrees in management and environmental
studies and had become fascinated with industrial ecology
or how to minimize the negative effects of industrial processes
on human health and the environment.
Id go into stores asking these questions,
and people would look at me like I was crazy, says Johnson,
who in the end decided, with interior designer Anthony Cochran,
to start Q collection (qcollection.com), a company that creates
the kind of furniture and textiles he was looking for. (Q stands
for quercus, Latin for oak.)
In creating headboards, club chairs, coffee tables, sofas, stools,
and bookcases, which they will launch in a New York showroom in
September, Johnson and Cochran conducted extensive research into
the origin and the toxicity of a range of materials, from frames
to batting to upholstery to wood glue.
Their wood suppliers replant the forests they harvest.
They use fabrics made from organic wool that is untreated and unprocessed.
Says Johnson, This material is so natural that the excess
clippings from the factory are used as mulch in the gardens surrounding
the factory. And the water used in the manufacturing process leaves
the factory cleaner than when it entered.
Q collection offers high-end home furnishings that
borrow elements from traditional and modern design, he says, to
create forms that are contemporary, functional, comfortable
We care about things most companies dont
care about, says Johnson, who asks, Why would someone
want to buy a piece of furniture that will only last five years
and is known to contain carcinogenic materials when they can bring
something with great design and pure materials into their home?"
Jessica Dheere is managing editor of Elle Décor.