SUSTAINABILITY IN INTERIOR DESIGN – Yes it is the new standard!
During my 4 year degree at college I studied Furniture Design, I loved handling a raw piece of timber and transforming it into a piece of beautiful functional, and sometimes not so functional, furniture. It was the texture of the grain and the smell of the resin as it was turned and carved away to reveal a shape that came from the heart.
While I did not continue my career as a furniture maker I have never lost my passion for a beautiful, well crafted piece and the appreciation for the work and care that is given to each handcrafted item. The knowledge that a piece of local timber which although holds beauty in its own right can also be transformed into an item that will last a lifetime.
Our old ways – how wasteful was Interior Design?
Along with Furniture Design, I also mastered in Exhibition Design, two areas that could not be more in contrast with each other. Upon graduating I moved to London to hit the ‘big league’ of the design world. My first job was with a company who specialised in Event / Exhibition design and management.
We worked on fast-paced projects with multi million pound budgets, exhibition stands with 2 and 3 floors for car brands and large blue-chip companies Audi, BT, McDonald’s. It was a process of rapid turnarounds and exciting challenges, the build was only days long and the strip out was even faster….but the end result was skip after skip of high spec floor tiles, pendent lighting, bespoke furniture. All these elements were too expensive to store and too complex to transport!
The growth of ethical practice and sustainable interior design
Throughout my career, I found a middle ground where fit out became more long term but the emphasis has always been with a focus on the return and less on impact. During my four years working in Australia, I became more aware of the environmental impact of designs and a number of suppliers began to include sustainable practices into their policies, but it was a slow start and a hard sell to customers as you justified the cost.
A number of large international suppliers have been at the forefront of sustainable practices and made it a significant part of their overall branding policy, Bolon Flooring, Interface and Kvadrat to name but a few but these were more of the exception as opposed to the norm.
I have always tried to keep abreast of environmental practice in design following the trailblazer Oliver Heath and reading up about new and innovative sustainable finishes and fixtures but with a focus on mainly commercial interior design it was a hard sell and I must admit I lacked the courage to press the issue that the added spend was worth it to overcome the environmental impact.
The Pandemic puts the spotlight directly on us!
If anything good has come out of the current global pandemic it is that it has emphasised the precarious situation we have imposed on our planet while simultaneously exposing the ultimate weakness of humans. it is hard to avoid the topic of sustainable practices in almost every aspect of our lives, companies are falling over themselves to show how they are striving to become carbon neutral while consumers are asking the question and in many cases demanding it.
As an industry, Contactors, Architects and Designers all need to take this on board, stand up and become accountable for the built environment, be it a large development or a bespoke item of furniture. We have the power to create one of the biggest impacts on our planet and it is up to us to make that impact a sustainable one. Waiting for government-led initiatives and targets is no longer an excuse, we are all invested in this planet and it is our collective responsibility.
There is perhaps light at the end of the tunnel however, Vegan and Biophillic designs are making their way slowly into major projects, we can only hope this is a sign of things to come, and perhaps inspiration to us all in the design industry.
Yellow Brick Road Design is not jumping on the bandwagon of Sustainable Interiors, this is not a passing trend, we are however ready to stand up and strive to achieve a higher standard in our designs. We shall continue to gain greater knowledge about sustainable practices as well as gather a database of suppliers and manufacturers who share these processes. Together we can build a healthier world, one we can be proud to hand over for future generations to cherish.
If you want to know how to create a sustainable interior design scheme including all materials, finishes and recommended suppliers see our full guide by following the link below.
At Yellow Brick Road Design – Devon-based Domestic Interior Design and Commercial Interior Design & Project Management, we love to push the boat out on both our Commercial Interior Design and Domestic Interior Design Projects. We look forward to forging new relationships and we aim to work with all of our clients to create that individual space that will help them stand out from the crowd.