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2019 Legacy Award Winner: Interior Designer Kari Foster

Associates III | Denver, Colorado



Photo by Jennifer Olson

In the early days of sustainable design, Kari Foster was at the forefront. She co-authored a booklet called Turning Green: How to Become a Green Design Firm, which was downloaded by thousands of designers nationwide. Ultimately, that booklet was expanded to become Sustainable Residential Interiors (Wiley & Sons, 2006 and 2014). “It was not an overnight change,” says Foster, “but we believed—and still believe—that knowledge empowers designers, architects, homeowners and builders to create good, responsible design while protecting our natural resources,” says Foster.


A connection to the outdoors was important when considering furniture placement and selection of natural materials, patterns and hues to compliment Mother Nature’s palette. Photo by Gibeon Photography.

How she came to interior design is a “pretty wild story,” she says. In the 1970s she joined her sister-in-law’s group—a little shop on 6th Avenue in Denver. “I have always been naturally drawn to it,” she says, “and started drawing cozy interiors when I was still a child.” For the first year, she was the office gofer—working for free—returning samples and helping with marketing. Evenings, she took drafting classes at the Emily Griffith Technical College and, eventually, she owned the business.

Foster and her team at Associates III were the interior designers of Mountain Living’s Natural Dream Home (2008-2009) when green interior design was still a new-new thing. “We put our hearts into that very meaningful project,” says Foster. She goes on to say: “I feel really good about the difference we have made in people’s lives … creating homes that are not only nurturing and comforting but healthy.”


In this Colorado home, Foster pays homage to past regional influences through indigenous materials which exude authentic Rocky Mountain warmth. Photo by David O. Marlow.

Although she is the owner and lead designer of Assocites III, Foster is quick to note that her company has never had her name on the door. "Everything we do is a team effort," she says. And that includes education, encouragement, service and constantly raising the bar on green interiors. 

Snapshot

Driving force behind Associates III since 1971.

MISSION
Exceptional design, excellent service and, says Foster, “to contribute to a happy, nurturing and peaceful world.”

SUSTAINABILITY
Known for being an outspoken change maker through the practice of responsible design.
Founding member: U.S. Green Building Council’s Colorado Chapter, 2002.

EDUCATOR
Presenter at West Coast Green, Environdesign, ASID National.

COMMUNITY
The design firm has contributed pro bono work for nonprofits like safe houses, and “what I got for Christmas from the team was a chance to work together on a Habitat for Humanity house,” says Foster.

Learn more about our 2019 Legacy Awards

As seen in the May/June 2019 issue

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