Whatever industry you are in nowadays sustainability is the buzzword, and rightfully so. We keep discovering the numerous benefits of eco-friendly alternatives for the environment as well as for our daily life, professional, and personal well-being. In interior design, in fact, Sustainable design is not just about finding natural and recyclable materials to decor a space. There is so much more.
I decided to dive into this topic which is not only an important value for our company but something that we really believe in as a key to improving our impact on the environment. We want to realise the objective that many designers talk about: improving people’s lives with the right interiors.
One school of thought more than other integrates numerous principles stemming from sustainable interior design. You probably heard about it by now, it’s called Biophilic design. With the leading spokesperson for this current, Oliver Heath, numerous researches proved how the use of specific natural elements or even features recalling nature can have a profound impact on our mental health, emotions, and even cognitive performance.
THE VISUAL CONNECTION WITH NATURE LOWERS THE BLOOD PRESSURE, IMPROVES ATTITUDE AND OVERALL HAPPINESS BUT CAN IMPACT ALSO MENTAL ENGAGEMENT. SIMILAR EFFECTS ARE ACHIEVED ALSO BY THE PRESENCE OF WATER OR EVEN BY NON-VISUAL CONNECTION WITH NATURE.
There is a huge body of literature about this topic that would be far too broad to discuss here. Having done quite a lot of research, I can’t wait to expand on the subject. So, for more focused in-depth on this, definitely have a look at our Introduction to Biophilic Design.
For today I’ll describe 5 great products from companies that offer eco-friendly and beautiful materials we implemented already in our projects or are looking to include.
Forbo Sphera Energetic, Homogeneous Floor
Images 1 & 2 © Forbo. Image 3 © A Designer At Heart
The first one is a vinyl floor. Forbo uses the waste materials which reintroduces in the production process. The end product has a signature composite look. If used properly, the unique design can become an additional interesting feature in sustainable interior design. Sphera Energetic offers an intricate palette of semi-plain and larger particle-mix colours. It is playful and designed to accompany vivid highlights. We believe the semi-plain finishes perform at their best in combination with matching paint to achieve a color-blocking effect.
Images © A Designer At Heart
Where does all the plastic from yogurt pots end up? Smile Plastics puts them in their panels! They provide them in 2×1 metres. To make the best of it we used the whole panel as a tabletop, where we usually integrate on-surface sockets. The surface should be cleaned with non-abrasive soaps. For more strength (needed in commercial projects such as student accommodations) Smile Plastics advises adding an extra coating of protective oil.
We used it in our student accommodation in Groningen.
The result in the overall design is great and has a very original look. Plus, there are different cool patterns that you can choose from.
Images © Organoid
Organoid offers surfaces that can be used in a variety of way and are obtained from organic materials such as flowers, plants, seeds, and coffee. Even more special is they are all scented according to the material they are made of (some more than others). They can be used as wall panels or integrated into furniture pieces. Despite being made from plants they can be fire rated.
Along with the exceptional aesthetics they give to any interior they have also some amazing added value. First, as mentioned, the imbued scent recalling our natural world can have a relaxing and beneficial effect on our mood and focus. Secondly, they also have acoustic absorption properties so they are absolutely suited for quiet areas such as study rooms or co-working spaces.
Images 1 & 2 © Granorte. Image 3 © A Designer At Heart
Granorte produces the fourth special material which consists of cork floor tiles. They come in 910 x 300 mm size with a 10.5 mm thickness. The panels are water-resistant, antimicrobial, and suitable for commercial interiors with medium traffic. They add warmth and a relaxed feel to the space, as well as a sense of unexpected.
If you are looking for specific design aesthetics and wish to maintain the sustainable materials without the cork look though, Granorte offers a wide variety of designs printed to their natural tiles, two of which we show above in the first two photos. Could you even tell that there’s real cork under those amazing patterns?
Images © Patch Plants
Real plants are a must in almost every interior. But especially for a sustainable one, you can’t go more natural than this. Patch Plants helps you by giving consultations and explaining on the website how to take care of each plant so that you can make the most of them. Dead/unhealthy plants are bad feng shui so it’s better to look after them correctly. They also deliver the plants to your front door!
These are my five suggestions to start moving toward a more sustainable interior design. Each solution offers a conscious (and beautiful) alternative that adds real value to a project. We are currently testing them and will give you more updates as we go on.
I hope you found this enlightening, if you did, check also our 2021 Edition of our 6 Best Materials for Sustainable Interior Design
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