This month we have been concentrating on a couple of projects where ecological design is a key focus. No matter your business sector, as individuals we are all consumers and one of the biggest messages we are challenged with each day is to consider more sustainable choices. We are constantly being reminded to recycle, reuse or to adopt alternative lifestyles choices such a plant based or vegan alternatives to help the environment. We have grown used to the 2015 single use carrier bag charge and for many, carrying reusable bags has become second nature as a way to help curb plastic consumption. As a result, 15 billion bags have been cut out of circulation.
We spend a lot of time developing design concepts and product strategies for brands, and now more than ever sustainability has become an intrinsic part of this process. More and more retailers are pushing eco decisions to the top of their agenda in order to cater to consumers who are keen to incorporate natural materials into their life. With developments in material innovation and evolving trends, sustainability doesn’t mean you have to compromise on style. The prominent new trend for earth-toned interiors go hand in hand with natural materials and help execute and compliment this naive textured trend. At Maison Objet this season, the newly launched Craft Gallery from Milk Decoration presented a collection of products under the theme ‘Beauty in the Rough’ which revealed the imprint of the hand, and a focus on raw materials and imperfect lines. This organic trend also opens the door for the reinvention of traditional craft materials such as hemp, rattan, jute and grasscloth as well as innovative materials such as Cactus silk (otherwise known as Rayon) or nettle fibres which are similar to hemp. The brand TineKhome presented a variety of linen products this year in a stunning palette of sun-soaked neutrals. At a high street level, homeware brands are already including sustainable materials into their range – recycled cotton, organic cotton, linen (made from flax), jute and seagrass are all commonplace. H&M introduced their Conscious range in both fashion and homeware a couple of years ago and with it have proven that style isn’t lost with substance.
Recycling is, of course, another exciting opportunity to be sustainable. Brands such as Weaver Green produce a whole host of products made from recycled water bottles – rugs, throws, cushions, and even pet beds. The benefits are hard to ignore – clean, durable, waterproof with the handwoven textiles providing the touch and feel associated with wool. Increasing investment in material innovation and experimentation of waste materials is also an interesting area and one that has featured highly at many key trade fairs. We loved the use of waste wood materials to create a terrazzo effect surface from Foresso and The Recycled Candle company is another business that was created after recognising an opportunity to reuse a waste product. Scrap candle wax is collected, and recycled it into new candles; a simple idea yet highly beneficial.
Todays consumers are more informed than ever regarding sustainability with the design community at the forefront of this shift. Evidence suggests consumers embrace and appreciate creativity even more when there is an ethical story at the heart of the product – a fantastic opportunity we are sure you’ll agree.