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Sustainability in Design

Sustainability in Design

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Sustainability is undoubtably one of today’s biggest buzz words. It can be defined as “the development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” (Bruntland Report for the World Commission on Environment and Development (1992)). The rapid expansion and awareness of this word has seen its principles weave its way into multiple industries, namely, in design. For something that was once considered ‘taboo’, the practise of sustainability has snowballed into a mass social movement at large. As a society, we are slowly but surely, moving away from a once individualist driven, carelessly disposable, and instantly gratifying world; to a more environmentally vigilant, consciously aware, and responsibly accountable one. This change is evident in experimentation of new materials, product design and lifestyle trends.

We have unanimously realized that our growth cannot sustain itself at the level of production we are currently demanding. By solution, research has demonstrated to us the benefit in utilising less traditional materials and methods in order to create the same final products. Environmentally sustainable soft and hard finishes in Interior Design are becoming more affordable, accepted, and accessible. Hard materials like bamboo, hemp and cork are no longer a strange selection for floors, furniture, or home products, but in fact highly respected and regarded. Soft materials like Alpaca and Camel hair are new contenders in the suitable animal fibre game, both promising a lot more demand in the near future.
In order to put our greenest foot forward, the design industry has been met with challenges on how to create products and services that harmoniously balance; purpose, beauty, and sustainability. Over the last five years, sustainable design has developed one of a, cool, contemporary and modern stigma. From Felix Pöttinger’s biodegradable seagrass packaging, to Nike’s shoebox made from recycled cartons and coffee lids; to Stefano Boeri’s plans for tree-covered towers in Nanjing, the design world is coming up with new, and quirky ways in creating desirable ecofriendly products to the market.

Modern design trends like the ‘Kon Mari Method’, ‘Nordic design’, and many other ‘minimalism’ related teachings, have expressed the empowerment of decluttering ones interior, and lifestyle as a whole. Our Japanese and Scandinavian teachings have showed us the importance in maintaining a strong connection between a manmade interior, and mother natures own, exterior. This connection has led us to an healthy obsession in the use of natural materials, organic shapes and lines, and calming colour schemes. Interior design trends such as ‘industrial’, ‘scandi’, ‘midcentruy’,or ‘tropical’, have all tied back in one way or another to our surrounding environments. Pantone has named Green their 2017 ‘Colour of the Year’, and pops of the colour in an interior have never been more prevalent. Whether it’s a big plant wall in a restaurant, or whether they’re created in a jungle-esque fashion in a coworking space, or even a single leaf in a vase on a bedside table; indoor greenery has never been more on trend than before.

Recycling and up-cycling today, no longer has that once, ‘second hand’ or ‘shabbychic’ appearance that it was commonly known for, and products with sustainable energy consumption no longer have the unjustifiable price tag. Going green in design has never been more accessible than it is today, and its importance that everyone in the market exploits this.

Being more aware of your consumer decisions has the power to radically change industry decisions as part of the larger picture, that is international consumer demand. Everyone can do their part, big or small, towards making more sustainable consumer product decisions by doing the following;

  • Buying well, and less often.
  • Supporting local industry
  • Considering product packaging
  • By not always feeling obliged to buy ‘brand new’
  • Being aware of government subsidies and tax breaks promoting sustainable practise.

By Taylor James

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