The Big Issue Facing Interior Designers

Image of eco-friendly fabrics by Kirkby Designs to illustrate how to tackle the big issue interior design, sustainability

Sustainability is a high priority right now. Whether this is down to David Attenborough or Greta Thunberg, we are all paying a lot more attention to the world’s fragile resources and how we use them.

Did you know that the construction sector is the second biggest user of plastic after the packaging industry? And that buildings and construction account for nearly 40% of energy related carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions? There is much that needs to be done to address this wastefulness and damage and interior designers can play their part.

There are small fixes that can be immediately adopted such as ordering fewer samples, and returning any samples that you don’t need. You can also consider using vintage furniture if appropriate, rather than always sourcing new, and introducing smart home technology that controls the interior environment to minimise excessive use of heating or air conditioning.

There are also a wealth of eco-friendly products out there worth considering such as Francesca’s Paints that are plastic and solvent free. Various fabric manufacturers, including Kirkby Design, de Le Cuona and Rubelli, are also producing cloth made from recycled plastics or innovative new natural fibres that are sustainably grown such as from the castor bean. Sometimes it is just a matter of challenging your suppliers to declare their sustainability agenda and questioning the amount of packaging they use.

But, if you really want to learn more and do more to make this industry more sustainable, I suggest signing up to Interior Design Declares. This global petition movement was launched earlier this year by a group of influential interior designers as part of Construction Declares. It is a public declaration of our planet’s environmental crisis and a commitment to take positive action.

The group’s statement of intent says: ‘For everyone working in the design and construction industry, meeting the needs of our society without breaching the earth’s ecological boundaries will demand a paradigm shift in our behaviour. Together with our clients, we will need to commission and design spaces within buildings as indivisible components of a larger, constantly regenerating and self-sustaining system.

The research and technology exist for us to begin that transformation now, but what has been lacking is collective will. Recognising this, we are committing to strengthen our working practices to design spaces with a more positive impact on the world around us. We hope that everyone involved in the UK interior design industry will join us in making this commitment.

About Elspeth Pridham

Elspeth Pridham is a journalist with over 25 years’ experience writing about interior design. Find her at The Insider

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