Working With Nature, Not Against It: Sustainable Interior Design
Research shows that the application of environmentally sustainable interior design practise doesn’t live up to the same level as its perceived importance.
It suggests that interior designers understand the pressing need to commit to sustainable methods but fail to comply with the principles underlying environmentally sustainable interior design.
So, what can be cone to align broadly perceived importance with practice? For a start, it has been suggested that teaching methods should include those that improve design practice. Further, the life cycle impact of all interior materials should be reinforced.
Meanwhile, let’s jump into the plethora of ways in which interior designers can work with nature and not against it to produce beautiful, sustainable designs.
Working with Nature
Building a better environment for all who reside within it, extends from people to wildlife. Organisations like the Forestry Commission and Natural England work tirelessly to protect, improve and expand the country’s woodlands. Naturally, this increases value to society, the environment and the economy.
The interior design industry is engulfed with the furniture manufacturing sector, which in turn- relies heavily on natural materials, often derived from deforestation. Wood products are widely used in furniture production. Whilst they can be recycled, some synthetic materials used in the wood production process cannot. And the waste that occurs in the production processes further damage the natural environment.
Setting a solid example in the industry, Hoteliers have contributed to the collective goal by creating eco-aware hotel interiors that will host a new generation of responsible guests. They ensure that suppliers operate their businesses in a sustainable way, conserving natural resources and efficiently using energy, water and materials across all manufacturing processes.
Interior designers should work hand in hand with such organisations to contribute to the conservation of nature. In doing so, there are ample opportunities for designers and manufacturers to reach out to suppliers who actively seek to preserve the country’s natural landscape for future generations.
As with all design industries, interior design practices can frequently change to reflect emerging trends. Luckily, in this industry, the fastest-growing segment is the incorporation of sustainable interior design practices. In this context, we look at the means by which we can work with nature to achieve sustainable results.
Land saving and efficient use of space is an overlapping element in both architecture and interior design. Maximizing the efficient use of space can keep the size of a building and therefore the use of construction materials to a minimum. The efficient use of materials indoors that would otherwise be harnessed by nature means that the long-term provision of natural materials can be sustained for future generations.
Using energy-wise design materials can have a profound impact on the sustainability of the overall design. When interior designers work with windows and doors in a way to maximise energy efficiency- i.e. good insulation to preserve energy and open sources of natural light.
There’s no shortage of sustainable materials, provided by nature for interior designers to use. From wood-flooring that comes from rapidly renewable sources like bamboo to water-saving devices and effective use of rainwater.
Fabrics and upholstery play an integral role in the design of any interior. Eco fabrics including, organic cotton, linen, hemp and bamboo fibre are all at the disposal of any ambitious interior designer. By opting for these fabrics, that would otherwise be disposed of in a landfill, they can be processed into yarns and blended with other fabrics.
Good lighting is a central part of good interior design. It is also a major consumer of energy and puts a great strain on nonrenewable resources. Consider this, a traditional lightbulb uses four times more energy than a low-energy bulb (which also lasts 10 times longer). There is really little excuse not to adapt efficient lighting on a widescale industry basis.
The Melia Palacio hotel in Tenerife has already adopted low-energy LEDs that replaced conventional halogen lamps in all bedrooms. This effective switch now calls for only 12W of power to produce the same illumination as the 35W halogen bulbs. This has saved energy by up to 66% and significantly reduced CO2 emissions per room.
There have been clear and rapid advancements in making the interior design industry more sustainable. Yet, it would seem that the need to create interiors that first and foremost meet the demands and expectations of its inhabitants still dominates the need to protect the natural environment.