In this new age of energy efficiency, the potential for both sustainable agriculture and the architectural innovation necessary to enable such change has grown exponentially. The unification of the organic food and interior design movements has been a much-sought-after balance in recent years. Luckily enough for inhabitants of the Buffalo area, there is an exhibit running in the butler’s pantry of the 2015 Decorators’ Show House that captures the essence of both these ideals.
Even more startling, it was put together almost entirely by high school students.
When interior design students at Frontier High School were given the seemingly insurmountable task of designing a space based around the idea of organic, local foods, their first job was simply to conceptualize it.
“We wanted to create a space that made clean, healthy eating easy and functional,” said Ashley Seltz, one of the two senior designers of the space. “Our concept was Elmwood Avenue meets organic farmers market.”
The result of their work is remarkable, and can be viewed at the Show House through May 17.
The tone of the pantry is accentuated by a cool color palette, flairs of colonial design and ceramic examples of local food. Every aspect is handcrafted, from carefully painted rain boots to a floral wreath. Shelves lined with meticulously stacked cans and jars give off an irresistible café vibe, and the myriad materials used in the design only contributes to its aesthetic appeal. The charming details of the pantry seem too intricate to be anything less than professional, making the DIY nature of its production even more noteworthy.
Seeing the transformation from plain pantry to organic haven was a unique experience for the students involved.
Senior designer Chelsea Clark can attest to this.
“I was there throughout the development of the space; seeing the final product and all the work put in was simply amazing,” she said.
“My favorite part was being able to see the room from start to finish,” she said.
Teachers Lisa Potter and Debra Townsend were the advisers for the project.
“It has been an amazing experience from start to finish,” Potter said. “I am so proud of the students. Deb and I make an amazing team and am proud to be her friend, colleague and partner in design crime. Our strengths complement each other. Where one of us may lack, the other is able to fill right in.”
For the students, being an integral part of such a dramatic project is a quintessential example of hands-on learning. Interior design is an area of study that requires interactive research, however there are often few opportunities before the college level. The Frontier students’ project at the Show House is a rare example of high schoolers getting to delve into the intricacies of the process of design.
Though many have satirized the organic food craze, utilizing fresh, locally grown produce is healthy for your body and your wallet. In this light the butler’s pantry design is more than just an opportunity for high schoolers to design their own space, but an opportunity to communicate a message. Cookbooks spread out across the pantry give suggestions for how to use fresh produce in ways that bring variety to the dinner table. The ceramic food gives physical examples of what groceries, namely fruits and vegetables, might be used, and through clever placement even suggest means of preparation.
Locally grown food is often said to be more flavorful, more nutritious and more environmentally friendly than its mass-produced counterpart. In addition to this, it is safer and, of course, directly boosts the local economy. With all the benefits fresh locally grown produce provides, it is easy to see why the From Farm to Pantry exhibit in the Show House, which is co-sponsored by the Junior League of Buffalo and The Buffalo News, has generated so much excitement. Its stunning streamlined design provides the eye-catching platform needed to advertise the message of a new age of agriculture.
To see a photo gallery from the Decorators’ Show House, visit buffalonews.com/galleries. To read more about the From Farm to Pantry project and see more photos, visit the From Farm 2 Pantry page on Facebook.
Nora Wolcott is a senior at Williamsville South High School.