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Sustainability In Design

How the design world is working towards environmental and social responsibility

Jessica Harding
By Jessica Harding, Senior Creative Buyer

A change is happening in the design world and beyond as we all individually and collectively come to reckon with the impact of our modern lives on the environment around us. Every year individuals pledge new efforts to make a daily difference to their carbon footprints and brands too will communicate their promises towards green design as, together, we celebrate and inspire sustainable living practices.

LuxDeco’s Senior Creative Buyer Jessica Harding shares the sustainable side of what we do here at LuxDeco through our Conscious Collection.

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Considered materials

“Reducing consumption by buying better quality pieces and keeping them for longer is one of the biggest changes we can make to reducing the environmental impact of our modern lives.” This is the statement with which we decided to launch our Conscious Collection. It is both a statement of fact and a mission statement for it explains the way in which we would approach curating this selection of sustainable products—with deep consideration for the sourcing and story of the materials used to keep waste at a minimum and to ensure a level of quality that would endure.

Sustainability In Design | De Le Cuona & Quintessa | The Luxurist |
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Sustainable products often have at their heart earth-borne materials, sympathetically taken from nature’s offering and giving rise to designs that haven’t asked for unnecessary manufacturing or chemical processes. Favouring cotton velvets such as those used on De Le Cuona’s cushions and Linea Luxe’s occasional sofas will contribute greatly to a sustainable home. Similarly, Pinetti’s pioneering use of recycled vegetable-dyed leathers used to craft its basket and various other small home accessories is a planet-kind pathway that leads to a sustainable interior in a way that classic leathers simply could not. It is important to note that the story doesn’t quite end at choosing a natural material, but it is most certainly a sustainable step in a green direction.

Locally made pieces

“Support local” is a phrase frequently recited in most conversations around eco-friendly design. Here, the focus is on reducing air miles, shipping distances and, therefore, cutting down on levels of harmful emissions.

So much of the fashion and furniture industry is manufactured in faraway countries from the UK, with China and India being amongst two of the main exporters. It is certainly true that the level of quality produced from such territories is high, but environmentally-friendly designs might look to create the same aesthetic much closer to home. Look at lighting produced here in Britain such as Somerset’s Heathfield & Co, glassware and china from Richard Brendon’s studio in Stoke on Trent or the finest throws and blankets from design icon, Johnstons of Elgin.

Sustainability In Design | De Le Cuona Cushions | The Luxurist |
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This doesn’t mean to say that to support local business you should only purchase from makers residing in the same country as yourself, but to narrow your horizons and see what is available from workshops that would not need to freight your furniture so far. Or, should your piece be from a distant maker (perhaps because the materials used are grown locally to them or the skillset is one that is superior to that found elsewhere), look into whether their practices are kind to both planet and artisan. Take The Rug Company, as an example, which champions age-old Tibetan weaving with its sustainable programme to support the Nepalese economy.

Remember too that another factor to consider in finding the right eco-aware maker is not simply their locality but their production volumes. Small, independent brands typically produce much smaller volumes, which results in far less pressure on the planet. United in their passion to do good, our Conscious Collection and our Think Big, Shop Small initiative contain many of the same products as designers work closer to home.

Durable craftsmanship

The final tenet so relevant to sustainable design is its longevity. The last few decades have been dominated by a fast-paced approach, from fast food and fast fashion to fast furniture. Buying habits have been to think in the here and now rather than the what’s to come, resulting in pieces purchased and then disposed of in a matter of years rather than generations. Sustainable interiors seek to challenge this by producing pieces that are crafted to last the course.

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Take green furniture designer and maker, Shepel. Their conscious use of materials and the ways in which to manipulate them have led to them realising sustainable seating that is as strong and everlasting as it is sublime. Favouring horsehair as its main wadding materials, it doesn’t absorb moisture, and is heralded for its ability to restore its original volume no matter the strength or durability of loading. The same applies for its choice of jute for webbing—a material that will live on and on.

Ovo Basket, White
Ovo Basket, White

A balance between physically being able to last for years of love and use and aesthetically withstanding the ebb and flow of interiors trends as brands chase the goal of timelessness, the planet’s plea is for us to buy slowly, thoughtfully, confidently and to foresee the long term. A commitment to consciousness—this is our promise.

Header image credit: Richard Brendon