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How Can Interior Design Become More Sustainable?

Written by Redrow

21 Sep 2021

As World Green Building Week 2021 begins (September 20-24), we turn our focus to sustainable interior design as part of our drive to make our business and our developments more eco-friendly.

QUALITY OVER NEWNESS

“When we ask ‘What is sustainable interior design?’, we are really considering how we can invest in quality and durability over newness – rejecting fast fashion and disposable trends and looking towards styles and individual items that will stand the test of time,” explains Alysha Alli, who heads up Redrow’s in-house interior design team. 

“We are now combining that ethos with using more locally sourced, sustainable and recycled eco-friendly interior design materials in our show homes. Consumers are already demanding more from retailers and suppliers in this area and looking at a company’s sustainability credentials before they buy.”

Trends still drive what is incorporated into our award-winning show homes, however a huge trend is being more aware of where you are buying from. An important consideration for Alysha, who aims to create an elegant look in every Redrow show home. 

Alysha says: “We do want our show homes to have a ‘current’ feel and we keep abreast of the latest interior design trends. However, it’s about balancing that with a desire to create a scheme where the essential elements, like kitchens, bathrooms and larger furniture, will still look great in five to 10 years’ time. Additional styling, such as soft furnishings and accessories are where we can have a little more fun with trends, but by investing in quality pieces that aren’t ‘faddy’ trends, we know they’ll still look fabulous in years to come.”

RECYCLED CHOICES

Redrow is now looking towards more sustainable designers and suppliers when it comes to styling our show homes.

Alysha says: “Material recycling offers the key to closing the loop on products, so brands are responding to consumer pressure to ensure materials and processes are more sustainable. For example, one of our suppliers Johnson Tiles are the first tile manufacturer to go plastic-free, reducing their annual plastic usage from 100 tonnes to zero. They are also using up to 20% recycled ceramic content in their tiles and 100% recycled packaging material.   

“We don’t need to compromise on style to become more sustainable as product designers and suppliers are creating ever more interesting goods from recycled materials. Some brands are even using their own waste channels to create new products, ensuring nothing goes unused. We’re seeing many trends that are actually derived from the effects created by blending pre-used materials such as the trend for ‘pixalated’ effect fabrics as detailed in our textile trends article.”

Working with nature we’re creating innovative designs that do not compromise on durability or aesthetics. By leaving materials in a more natural, untreated state, we’re ensuring the processes used to make them have less impact on the environment.

ECO-FRIENDLY INTERIOR DESIGN MATERIALS

Nature has been a big influence within interiors for several years, with natural greenery, imperfect and raw materials and organic prints, fabrics and artwork seen across the design shows and in our show homes. 

Alysha says: “Working with nature we’re creating innovative designs that do not compromise on durability or aesthetics. By leaving materials in a more natural, untreated state, we’re ensuring the processes used to make them have less impact on the environment. Likewise, they can be re-purposed more easily at the end of their lifecycle.

“One area where great strides have been taken to use more eco-friendly materials is in upholstery and fillings. Suppliers are choosing to use more sustainable textiles, foam and fillers to create upholstered items, such as using sisal, jute and hessian for webbing and using organic filling such as horsehair, coir and wool, in line with consumer demand.”

CIRCULAR LIFESTYLE

Buy-back, swap and upcycling initiatives have made the afterlife of furniture more assured, as Alysha describes: “Websites like Freecycle.org, Facebook Marketplace and Preloved.co.uk are all great places to find pre-owned furniture for upcycling or disposing of furniture you no longer need.

“When our show homes eventually close, we always ensure our furniture and accessories are reused or rehomed, For example, we may pass it on to a customer who purchases a former show home or donate it to a charity or community group.”

Some suppliers now even offer buy back schemes for customers. Made.com has recently partnered with giving, selling, swapping and marketplace platform Geev to encourage its customers to sell items on or give them away. They will then donate 10% of the original order to charity.  


THE RISE OF RENTAL

“Subscription and rental services are making it even easier for consumers to keep products out of landfill,” says Alysha. “If you only need an item for a short time, rather than buying something cheap and disposing of it quickly, you could find renting it is a much greener option.”

Renting furniture is perfect if you only have temporary requirements, for example if you are a student or on a temporary work contract and living somewhere for a short period of time, or if you find you like to change your style often. 

“Subscription and rental services can be very flexible and you can often pay monthly, choose your length of contract and extend it if needed. If you use a reputable rental company like Harth you can be assured you are hiring quality items. They offer everything from sofas, tables and chairs, to lighting, artwork and shelving, with some really quirky items available, so you’re sure to find something to suit your own unique style,” adds Alysha.

SUSTAINABLE CERTIFICATIONS

Government legislation is becoming more stringent and with customers demanding higher sustainability standards, brands can reassure customers that their interior products are eco-friendly by acquiring up-to-date certifications from authorities such as the FSC (Forest Stewardship Council).

“Do your research on sustainability if you want peace of mind”, advises Alysha. “Whether you’re buying a company’s products at a shop or online, check their website for their approach to sustainability, look into where they source their items and materials, and check for any official certifications.

“We know from our own market research that consumers are willing to pay a premium for improved sustainability when it comes to their homes, and the same is true for how they furnish their properties. That premium is often reflected in the improved quality, durability and a knowledge that you are doing your part to protect the environment and reduce climate change.”