Growing up in Phoenix, Shannon Harris always planned on going to medical school. After doing an internship, she realized she wanted a different path.
“It was too linear for me,” laughs Harris.
Instead, she discovered a love of design.
“I can still be creative,” she explains, “but there is a mathematical side of things.”
Harris began working for a design firm in Denver.
“Sustainability is important to me. I was into healthy homes and air quality of homes,” she explains. “My initial concept was to flip homes and turn them into green homes. It began as a side business while I continued to work for the design firm.”
Along with her parents and her musician husband, Harris expanded into new construction in Denver when she found a piece of land that fit five homes.
“I quickly realized I couldn’t keep working at the design firm and build five homes,” she says.
Harris quit her job and founded Fuse Living in 2012.
“All of our homes are LEED-certified, ensure the best air quality, and are sustainable.”
Along with new construction, Fuse Living is a Certified Green Interior Design Firm, granted through the Sustainable Furnishings Council. Harris and all of her employees have also gone through extensive SFC training.
“We learned about furniture materials, toxic materials, and what’s inside,” explains Harris. “We examine the manufacturing process, sourcing materials, the full lifecycle.”
That knowledge is at the core of Fuse Living. The company specializes in environmental psychology and sustainable solutions.
“At Fuse Living, we recognize that our natural world is paramount to our wellbeing,” explains Harris. “We consider two symbiotic elements: the whole person and the environment. Environmental psychology is the study of our environment and how humans interact. This understanding gives us a more optimal sense of being within our spaces. We consider the whole person to elevate the living experience in your home. That could be anywhere from a piece of furniture to a meditation space to whatever you might particularly need.”
That whole person concept at Fuse Living means they consider many aspects when creating a design: improving air quality, finding ways to control noise, introducing natural elements, and promoting beauty.
“We incorporate restorative elements,” Harris explains. “This includes color theory, soft edges, and considering circadian rhythms when choosing how to light the home.”
Discovering those individual needs is a fine-tuned process. When a potential client calls in, the onboarding process begins. The team at Fuse Living starts the initial discovery period to help clients find their interests. After the initial onboarding, a deeper discovery period takes place, with a consultation involving multiple designers, where clients answer questions about a typical day, leisure time, and the importance of eco-friendly approaches. From there, Fuse Living analyzes the information and begins the design process.
Harris explains that the design process is multi-faceted.
"Once we ensure we are on the right track, we launch into the design development phase and then on to construction.”
Part of the process that sets Fuse Living apart is choosing materials that are safe both for consumers and the environment. Harris explains that understanding what is inside is as important as comfort and aesthetics.
“Toxins have a negative effect on the relationship between the whole person and the environment, hurting both,” she says.
To ensure they are choosing the best materials, Fuse Living insists that their vendors practice the same guidelines they do. Materials must use FSC certified wood, recycled materials, or rapidly renewable resources. They must also understand the byproduct of their processes; and ensure low or zero VOC paints, finishes, and dyes. There can be no flame-retardant chemicals, the glue must be formaldehyde-free, and the materials must be certified organic.
Harris says they encourage alternative fibers, such as linen, hemp, abaca, and wool, and they must guarantee that workers earn a living wage.
Harris says that design has changed over the past year. There has been a big uptick in redesign.
“People are investing in the home experience. People are really paying attention to home,” she explains. “I see people looking more at the quality. They are considering the design from a sustainable mindset. Doing things one time from a quality point of view is near and dear to me,” she says with obvious passion.
Fuse Living has a showroom, available by appointment, on 7th Street just north of Camelback. They are online at FuseLiving.com.