Here we are for the third year in a row. As we keep our focus on the industry’s sustainability and continue researching to find new opportunities for creative interiors and innovative companies or start-ups that develop environmentally-friendly materials.
Sustainability is a huge share of any industry, and it has definitely become a wise long-term investment. Regardless of an initial additional capital expense on a truly sustainable project, the return on investment is granted to come in multiple ways.
As we discussed on different occasions before, sustainability does not only mean reducing the carbon footprint of a building or home. In a commercial project, it is also about saving money through energy efficiency and creating value for the residents who will enjoy a healthier, and more relaxing environment to live or spend time in. This is a powerful tool to consider even from a marketing perspective. It can help create brand loyalty, which is very important for those brands that are increasingly diversifying their offer to cover different target audiences and follow their residents from a young age to later stages of their careers and lives.
For a private or residential project, well, except for the marketing part, it is pretty much the same. So, definitely worth considering since your daily life can improve significantly, especially now that with remote working, on average we spend a lot more time at home.
Before we get into our shortlist if you would like to know more about the topics we discussed around sustainability you can check the Wellbeing & Sustainability section of our blog. Or if you are specifically interested in our previous articles about sustainable materials you can find them below:
5 Top Materials for a Sustainable Interior in 2020
6 Top Materials for a Sustainable Interior in 2021
And now, let’s go with our 2022 selection:
Corian is a plastic material produced by DuPont. It is derived from bauxite and is composed of acrylic polymer and alumina trihydrate. This is not a new material by any means. It has actually been around since 1967, and it is regarded as a high-end, versatile and beautiful finish since it can be modelled and adapted to different situations and come in different colours and shapes.
Corian is mostly used for surfaces and countertops, backsplashes, and bathrooms. However, it has not been considered an environmentally friendly material for a long time. But, even though it is a synthetic material, this is not all there is to it.
First of all, DuPont itself has worked on improving the sustainability of its product for several years now. Social responsibility and accountability are extremely important today, as mentioned in the beginning. And this is even more relevant for big corporations. So, the company makes sure that every raw material is sourced responsibly. In the same way, suppliers and packaging too are controlled to make sure they respect specific standards. Pigments used to colour the material are also obtained sustainably and are free of heavy metals, or other potentially toxic components. Finally, now scrap and off-spec leftovers are also recycled.
As for the properties of the material itself, Corian is extremely durable. More so than other natural materials used in a similar way. So, it will last longer than many other options and it can also be re-cut, reworked, and repaired, further decreasing the need for substitution. Additionally, it has an extremely low content of volatile organic compounds (VOC), making it suitable for kitchens and other surfaces and safe for people. It is also nonporous which hinders the proliferation of mold and bacteria.
Thanks to all these factors, Corian has obtained several green certifications so far.
Here we start more from a production process than a finished material, but it is worth mentioning as 3D printing, or Additive Manufacturing (AM), is becoming more popular than ever in our lives. It is entering many different sectors and it is realised through a range of different materials.
We discussed its potential to positively affect the interior design industry in our article 5 ways in which technology is changing interior design. But this time, we would like to talk about sustainable options with it.
A few years back, WASP launched a project that became a case study aimed at encouraging research and innovation around sustainable 3D printing. Today there are great examples like Materialise that do not stop at a technology level, even though, from an environmental perspective, AM represents already an improvement over some traditional production processes.
With Bluesint PA12, a new material obtained from 100% recycled powder from laser sintering that is usually wasted, Materialise is able to reduce the carbon emission related to 3D printed components and items by 32%. This makes it the most sustainable AM option on the market right now.
PaperStone is another surface material launched this time by British CDUK. This is a paper composite bonded with a natural resin. Specifically recycled paper certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and petroleum-free phenolic resin.
Right now it is only available in the UK and Ireland, unfortunately, but it is definitely worth looking into.
PaperStone comes in a textured finish and can be specified in a varied range of tones, whose pigments are also obtained from sustainable sources. 11 shades are available and some are said to change slightly over time becoming more intense and warmer. According to CDUK, it conveys tactile warmth that also recalls a connection with nature, and most of all is suited for very different kinds of interior spaces and uses. Ranging from residential to commercial, hospitality, and healthcare structures. PaperStone can be used for tabletops, wall panels, furniture pieces, cabinet doors, and even kitchen worksurfaces.
Its surface is also resistant to heat up to 180 degrees, water, and it is easy to clean. It can also be modelled according to the client’s specifications.
Floor Flex, is a flexible material developed for flooring solutions by Mogu, and very resistant, so, suited for high traffic areas such as corridors or halls. 67% of it is obtained from organic waste materials such as seashells and coffee grounds. But it is also solvent-free and recyclable.
Thanks to its flexibility, and aesthetic features, by cutting it is possible to create interesting compositions that can give a high-end and refined look to every interior. Alternatively, it can also be applied in continuity from floor to wall, thanks again to its low thickness (between 1.5 and 2mm), or even applied on curved surfaces or as furniture covering. Floor Flex comes in 5 different colours with several brighter shades in between. The result is an extremely customisable solution that can be adapt to a wide range of interiors.
Mogu’s objective is to bring nature closer to people through design. Employing “Nature’s intelligence to radically disrupt the design of everyday products”. Along with Floor Flex, other sustainable flooring materials are developed in tiles.
SeaStone is another sustainable surfacing material, this time produced by newtab-22.
This one as the name suggests is produced from seashells. Specifically from the 7 million tons of seashells that are discarded every year by fishing, seafood and aquafarming industry.
While part of this waste is used to make fertiliser, the majority simply goes either to landfills or abandoned along coastlines. Newtab-22 uses this material potential to create a versatile stone-like material. SeaStone is obtained from processed seashells mixed with minerals, sand, and natural binders, resulting in a very resistant material with a unique texture.
This is our selection for 2022. As usual, we will keep researching and looking for exciting and innovative brands that constantly bring amazing improvement to our industry. So, it’s still early in the year, and there will be a lot more to come. Stay Tuned!
Cover picture by CDUK
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