Consumer demand for sustainable products, packaging and buildings has only been growing over the last decade, with many of us now interested in purchasing from companies that can demonstrate their responsibility to the environment. The interior design world is no different, and current trends for more climate conscious business practices are likely to continue into the future. Here are a few key developments to keep an eye out for as we move into the second half of 2020.
Closing the loop
The old model of extracting raw materials, creating a new product and then quickly discarding it is no longer tenable in today’s world. Sustainable interior design means paying attention to the entire life cycle of the materials used in both work and domestic spaces. The idea is to find objects and materials that can be fed back into the cycle, so that “waste” can be used again. It’s simply a matter of reframing the end of an item’s usefulness as the start of its usefulness in another role.
Reusing materials isn’t limited to upcycling mason jars; enterprising factories all over the world are finding innovative ways to reclaim and recycle tons of material like carpets or furniture from landfills. Some companies are realizing that the building itself can be reclaimed from elsewhere; for example, some businesses have been refitting old shipping containers to make modular buildings, pop-up testing sites, additional classrooms and recycled, bespoke work spaces of all kinds.
Reducing, reusing and recycling is an old mantra that still applies. The very design of new products can reflect this long-term attitude. For example, tables can be manufactured that allow for only their top layer to be removed and discarded when worn, instead of throwing away the entire table. The result is a solution that is environmentally sound, cost effective and practical.
Aiming for climate positive design
As the climate emergency rages on, business leaders in every industry and sector are committing not just to carbon neutral or net zero plans, but aiming a little higher. Carbon positive design actively removes more carbon from the environment than was created in the process. Products are now being created that positively improve the world, whether it’s via supporting water conservation, reducing waste or carbon emissions, or ensuring energy efficiency.
“Green” space can literally be green, with the rising popularity of indoor gardens, roof gardens, green walls and the like. These not only create more organic, relaxing environments for the people using the space, but they actively improve air quality and sequester carbon into its most beautiful form – green plants and flowers. Consider planting a bee garden to encourage the local wild bee population, or plant edible herbs and vegetables that lower the need to ship imported produce in non-recyclable packaging.
Telling authentic stories
The drive to create more ecologically responsible living and work spaces goes deeper than a passing trend. Being truly thoughtful about the materials, construction, ethics, and environmental impact of one’s design is about making positive changes in creative ways. This is a practical and aesthetic endeavor, with many in the interior design world now seeking to convey a real sense of authenticity to their spaces. As consumers become more and more familiar with the true costs of our modern consumer culture, people are seeking design that reflects a certain social responsibility.
Lighter colors have dominated interior trends for the last few years and communicate an appealing sense of clarity and minimalism. Sustainable materials like bamboo or reclaimed wood are now common in furniture design, and the emphasis is on soft furnishings that are humble and extremely durable. Window treatments, carpeting and clever use of storage space speaks to retaining heat and energy, as well as maximizing use of square footage.
Recycled rugs, wildflowers in jars and materials like banana fiber are as much about comfort and sustainability as they are about cultivating wellness – which has been another major design trend across the board.
Energy-efficient appliances are a must, and, thankfully, there are many elegant and chic new models now available that are as attractive as they are practical. Many products now emphasize their core brand philosophy; for example, the business donates something for every product bought, or the manufacturing process employs vulnerable people in disadvantaged countries.
Natural light, natural materials and natural colors all create honest, conscious interiors that speak to the need for humanity to dial back flashy consumerism and get back to what matters.
Homepage, S Jones Containers, https://www.sjonescontainers.co.uk/
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‘The Guide To Sustainable Interior Design’, Country and Town House, https://www.countryandtownhouse.co.uk/interiors/sustainable-interior-design/
‘Sustainable Interior Design’, Green Hotelier, https://www.greenhotelier.org/our-themes/sustainable-interior-design/
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