A much-awaited panel discussion for this afternoon centered around the key pillars of responsible design and ways in which brands and designers can make a phased shift to more sustainable practice, and how we can take the lead from our environment to create a circular economy in design.
According to Element 4 managing director, Georgia Elliott-Smith, sustainability is a balance between environmental, societal, and economic factors. “When developing a good sustainability strategy, we need to think holistically about social and environmental factors but balance them with economic viability,” she explained.
So how can other designers and brands make a phased shift to sustainability? Elliott-Smith advised businesses to take a good look at where they can make the biggest impact, whether it is the products they are buying and their supply chain, for example. “Once you have the information available to you, prioritize the things that have the most significant impact on the environment and also those that you have an emotional connection with and have a big impact on your brand’s DNA.”
Nicola Lindsell, co-founder, and director of Boxx Creative, who was joined on the panel by co-founder Nicola Keenan, believes that waste is an essential consideration in a sustainable project, particularly how can something be reused or recycled. “When it comes to bespoke design, when we look at the circular economy side, we must always consider whether some things can be reused and broken down. It is important for our suppliers to share the same ethos as us as sustainability is the responsibility of everyone involved in a project,” she explained.
Meanwhile, Keenan highlighted that as a lot of people have now become more aware of the social and environmental implications of designing a place, it is becoming more and more important to demystify sustainability for clients and ask them the right questions to get to the core of their sustainability goals.
For Jennifer Manners, who is the founder of a bespoke rug supplier Jennifer Manners Design, it is important to consider the process of working with ethical craftsmen in other countries to preserve the craftsmanship and ensure that the working conditions are also ethical. “There are many wonderful organizations that check that working standards are adhered to and that the materials used are ethical; however, it is also about creating a very personal relationship with the craftspeople.”
Elliott-Smith agreed, “On a wider scale, it is the shortcuts that people take that allows greenwash to flourish. There is no substitute for educating yourself about the key issues in your industry.”
Photo Credit: Federica Galli on Unsplash