An up-and-coming young designer with a passion for healthier indoor environments has been declared the winner of the GREENGUARD Environmental Institute's first-ever social media contest this month at the NeoCon World's Trade Fair in Chicago.
Nathan Bush, 22, a recent graduate of the University of Louisville with a bachelor's degree in Interior Architecture, was the first contestant to photograph the showrooms of over 75 manufacturers of GREENGUARD Certified products and share those photographs on the popular microblogging site Twitter.
Dubbed the NeoConTWEST, the scavenger-hunt-inspired contest was a first-of-its-kind social media competition intended to engage and inform the architects and designers who attended NeoCon by using Web 2.0 technology. GREENGUARD provided a list of more than 75 participating manufacturers, as well as their showroom numbers, to help guide contestants through the competition. For Bush, who learned about the competition on—you guessed it—Twitter, the contest was a huge success.
"Companies (like GREENGUARD) are beginning to understand the millennial generation and their desire for dynamic interaction with companies outside of a formal brand," Bush says, adding that Twitter is quickly becoming a source of inspiration and opportunity—and not "just another unproductive and leisurely social media outlet."
Part of that "dynamic interaction," says Bush, was the real-time educational aspect of the NeoConTWEST. Bush was stunned to learn that indoor air is two to five times more polluted than outdoor air, but relieved to find out that there are manufacturers who are committed to reducing indoor air pollution by certifying their products for low chemical emissions.
"This is vital information for everyone involved in the built environment, including operations and maintenance, furnishing, textile, carpet designers and manufacturers, and especially the A and D industry, which is specifying building materials and furnishings," Bush says. "The mission of an interior architect and designer is to enhance the function, safety, and aesthetics of interior spaces. Indoor air quality has to be part of the equation…. This is the same concept as not dumping toxic by-products into the streams and rivers you intend to fish from, source your water from, or allow your children to swim in. I would suggest that anyone unfamiliar with indoor air quality concerns take a look at the FAQ section of GREENGUARD's website."
Of course, participating in the contest was also fun and exciting, says Bush, who tweets under the username N8DesignStudio. It even required some strategic planning on his part.
"My strategy was to cover two floors per day," he says. "Before NeoCon began, I printed the floor plans for the exposition and highlighted all of the showrooms whose manufacturers had products that were listed as GREENGUARD Certified. That way I could easily flow through each floor. Seemsit worked out well."
So well, in fact, that Bush has become the proud new owner of an Apple iPad—a gadget this ambitious young designer plans to use as a presentation tool for prospective employers and clients.
"I want to be part of a team that creates cities that are continuous with the landscape and provide healthy built environments that are beneficial to their users. Our spaces need to be both healthful and beautiful with great indoor air quality."
GREENGUARD Environmental Institute