After last year’s events forcefully changed the way many of us worked, studied and lived, experts are urging us to think about whether we should be really going back to our old ways. While families around the world got used to the long weeks and months of self-isolation, the most influential players in the field of architecture and design grew more and more alienated from the environmentally harmful and quantity-centred nature of consumerism. Although sustainable efforts on the market are not entirely new, 2020 brought a wave of pressure on designers and brands to restructure and organize their production processes around the preservation and appropriate protection of our environment.
Tip Ton RE / Vitra
For designers, sustainability is usually demonstrated through the longevity of their products. A good piece of furniture can ideally be in use throughout many generations of a family, which is ensured by quality design and outstanding material use by manufacturers. As it shows, good design is one of the foundations of sustainability. Most furniture, however, will be simply taken to a huge garbage dump at the end of their life cycles. This is one of the processes that is in dire need of revolutionary initiatives, and that is already seeing some changes at the hands of the biggest furniture brands.
Desert / ferm LIVING
Creating furniture out of recycled materials have become more than just technological experiments over the years: today, respected designers are offering their vision to manufacturers in their aim to unite environmental awareness and contemporary design. Vitra, for example, went on to reimagine their signature Tip Ton chair: the classic form is now available in a version made of 100% recycled plastic. The new product - called Tip Ton RE - comes only in the natural color of recycled materials. The same approach led to the creation of the Desert chair by ferm LIVING, which showcases a recycled plastic frame clothed in a handwoven fabric made of plastic bottles.
Cork sofa / Koala, interior by Lucy Feagins
Natural materials will definitely play a central role in the establishment of a sustainable future, many of which are already experiencing a boom in their popularity. This is in part due to the exciting Natural Luxury design style, where brands and manufacturers are working to redefine what the concept of “luxury” could stand for in a modern market. According to enthusiasts of Natural Luxury, it can merely be seen as customers’ unwillingness to compromise on products made with utmost care, personality and quality. This leads to a new appreciation of handcrafted and traditional architectural solutions.
Interiors by Rob Kennon Architects, Never Stop Group
State-of-the-art design aspirations are seeking out alternatives to the aging tenets of mass production. Natural building materials such as cob, straw and hemp are making a comeback. These solutions avoid the use of toxic and dangerous chemicals, protecting not only the environment but our own health as well. Furthermore, the insulating properties of these materials are up there with the most modern technologies. Hardwood and stone continue to reign in interiors, evoking nature with their looks and relieving users from stress, contributing to the well-being of a generation.
Canal Gate table / Jan Hendzel
Not everyone has the resources to completely restructure their homes based on environmental concerns. But it doesn’t mean they couldn’t contribute to the good health of our environment with the slightest efforts. Here’s a simple idea: buy local, artisan products! We already touched upon the environmental benefits of custom-made, traditional furniture and accessories, but the transportation of any product from the factory or workshop to your home is of huge relevance as well.
Farrow and Ball eco-friendly wall paint
Experts urge households to cease the use of unnecessary chemicals, an important step towards a sustainable and healthy home environment. Many cleaning products and detergents are available in eco-friendly versions, meaning that their manufacturing processes and the materials used in production are ensured to be environmentally friendly. Next time you are refurbishing at home, try to do some research on brands that engage in similar initiatives. We have already written about Farrow & Ball and their water based, eco-friendly paints that are, according to the manufacturer, “not only classed as Minimal or Low VOC (Volatile Organic Compounds), but far exceed the standard for those categories”. Luckily they’re not the only ones providing customers with environmentally friendly alternatives to regular wall paint: take a look at what brands such as Naturillo, Benjamin Moore or Annie Sloan could offer - the latter of which is making sure that all its products are shipped to customers in 100% recyclable packaging.
Artichair / Spyros Kizis, SEAmpathy / Daniel Elkayam
The necessary changes in the manufacturing processes of brands needs to be accompanied by a shift in the perspectives of designers and architects. If we look at the latest directions leading designers are taking their ideas and concepts, simplicity and modesty, as well as an emphasis on natural resources and experimenting with new materials are some of the key features of their evolving vision. These experiments can include the re-use of industrial waste and the re-imagination of organic materials. Visitors of S/ALON BUDAPEST are already familiar with Paper Up! and their handcrafted, paper-based products, but this is only the tip of the iceberg: brands are experimenting with furniture and fabrics made of plant fibres or even more exotic materials such as algae.
Lamps and vases / Paper Up!
As brands are already working on new processes to transform your life, there’s not much left but to try and implement a few small, but nonetheless essential changes at home. Explore your area and see if you can find package free shops near you! And if you bump into any sort of issue at home that can easily be solved by buying a product, go out your way and think of a more creative solution: don’t forget that the most environmentally friendly products are those that never have to be produced in the first place.
L25 lamp / Kovac Family
This year, S/ALON BUDAPEST votes for sustainability. If you’re looking to see how the biggest local and international design brands see the future of the market, and how some of the latest innovations and solutions could solve the issue of a sustainable future, don’t miss Hungary’s most exciting interior design event between September 24-26, 2021! Until then, be sure to check out our official Facebook and Instagram pages for the most inspiring ideas in home and furniture design!
Our professional assistant for the article was Kata Hortobágyi. Cover image: Edgars Creek House / Never Stop Group.