Sustainable Interior Design: The Pillars and Strategies for a Better Future

CEO Khai Intela
Above: Image by Alexander Abero Sustainability is not just a buzzword; it's a crucial aspect of interior design that focuses on meeting the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations...

Eco friendly design by AlexanderAbero Above: Image by Alexander Abero

Sustainability is not just a buzzword; it's a crucial aspect of interior design that focuses on meeting the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own. Sustainable interior design is not only environmentally conscious but also prioritizes the health, comfort, and well-being of occupants. It's about creating living spaces that reduce negative impacts on the environment while embracing eco-friendly practices.

The Importance of Sustainability

Sustainability is vitally important for preserving the quality of life and the diversity of Earth's ecosystems. With finite resources and the depletion of fossil fuels, it's crucial to address these challenges. Eco-friendly interior design can significantly increase energy efficiency and reduce our carbon footprint. Interior designers need to be mindful of incorporating sustainable practices into their projects.

How to Identify Sustainable Products

Choosing sustainable products can be challenging, as many companies claim to be eco-friendly without sufficient evidence. To ensure you're making environmentally responsible choices, consider the following:

  • Look for specific claims from the company regarding their product. Generic terms like "eco-friendly" or "non-toxic" are vague and can be misleading. Instead, focus on products made from 100% recycled materials or those certified by reliable green certification schemes.

  • Take the time to research and verify the sustainability claims online. Green certifications, like the NZGBC Green Star, can give you confidence in a product's environmental impact and energy efficiency.

Sustainability in Interior Design

Interior design plays a significant role in promoting sustainability. By leveraging energy-saving designs and using recycled building materials, designers can create eco-friendly spaces from the ground up. Energy and thermal modelling can optimize energy efficiency, while passive heating, cooling, and ventilation designs enhance indoor air quality. Maximizing natural light can reduce reliance on electrical lighting. These considerations are crucial in the design of green buildings.

Life & Leisure Magazine Above: Amanda Dorset at Home With Life & Leisure Magazine

Efficient space utilization and selecting low-impact construction materials are essential for creating healthy and cost-effective built environments. A sustainable interior design practice benefits both clients and designers. Clients enjoy lower maintenance costs in the long run, while designers enhance their brand image and reputation.

Green Design vs. Sustainable Design

While they share common goals, "green design" and "sustainable design" differ in their approach. Green design focuses on short-term environmental impacts, often using recycled materials and renewable energies. On the other hand, sustainable design adopts a long-term perspective, considering social-economic development and minimizing negative impacts on the environment. Sustainable interior design aims to build a better future instead of just focusing on the present.

Sustainable Design Strategies

To reduce the environmental footprint of a design, designers can implement several strategies:

  • Reduce the overall size, weight, and number of materials used in a design. Less material means fewer resources consumed and lower associated emissions.

  • Embrace modularity and reconfigurability to adapt designs to different spaces and changing needs. This approach increases the lifespan and versatility of products.

Stone Set in Dublin Bay Above: Sheepskin Stone Set (Dublin Bay) on a Designer Floor Rug, 25mm (Gladstone)

  • Focus on longevity by creating products that are durable, aesthetically timeless, and retain their value. This reduces the need for frequent replacements and encourages repair or upgrades.

Examples of Sustainable Design

Designers are constantly innovating to create a sustainable future. From large-scale wind turbines to eco-friendly home interiors, there are numerous examples of sustainable design. Incorporating recycled materials, such as reclaimed wood furniture, and energy-efficient solutions like solar lighting, can significantly contribute to eco-friendliness and longevity in interior design.

Usukhbayar Gankhuyag Wind Mills Above: Image by Usukhbayar Gankhuyag

The Four Pillars of Sustainability

Sustainability encompasses four distinct areas: human, social, economic, and environmental. These pillars guide us in creating a better future for all.

  • Human sustainability focuses on developing skills and capacity to support the well-being of communities and society.

  • Social sustainability aims to preserve resources for future generations and acknowledges the impact of actions on others. It promotes social equality, cohesion, and the importance of relationships.

  • Economic sustainability measures an economy's ability to support sustainable economic production indefinitely. It aims to improve the standard of living while considering social equality.

  • Environmental sustainability aims to protect natural resources and improve human well-being. It ensures that the needs of the current generation are met without compromising the needs of future generations.

The Five R's of Sustainability

Designers can contribute to sustainability by following the five R's:

  1. Refuse: Minimize waste by refusing to buy non-recyclable or wasteful products.

  2. Reduce: Use the minimum necessary to avoid unnecessary waste, with a focus on reducing single-use plastics.

  3. Reuse: Instead of buying new, find creative ways to reuse items and reduce the "throw-away" culture.

  4. Repurpose: Give products a new purpose through upcycling. Explore endless possibilities for repurposing interiors.

  5. Recycle: As a last resort, recycle materials that cannot be refused, reduced, or reused. This ensures environmentally friendly waste disposal.

By incorporating these principles into our daily lives, we can make a significant impact on creating a sustainable future.

Let's embrace sustainable interior design and build a better world for generations to come!

This article is based on the original article by Saigon Intela. Images courtesy of Alexander Abero, Life & Leisure Magazine, and Usukhbayar Gankhuyag.