The Future of Design is Sustainable Design

Maybe our claim is a little bold, but we truly believe things should be designed for sustainability. Design defines how material objects look and feel and how they are used. If sustainability is taken into account at the very beginning — in the design phase — the products we use, and the spaces we live in, can influence our way of living to be more sustainable. Is contemporary design taking sustainability into account? Where better to look than at Clerkenwell Design week, the renowned design festival that brings together the latest innovations by some of the best creative forces and encompasses the true spirit of the design community.

Clerkenwell in London is a home to more creative businesses and architects per square mile than anywhere else on the planet and as such, builds up a vibrant design hub — one of the most important in the world. It is a dynamic area of creative industries stretching back to the industrial revolution, alongside contemporary designers, independent producers and international brands. Over 90 world-renowned design brands have their showrooms in the area of Clerkenwell, and it houses more than 200 architectural practices.

It’s no wonder then that it became a home to one of the most recognized design festivals, Clerkenwell Design Week. During the festival a wide array of residential venues opens their doors to professionals in the design and technology industries, displaying various examples of modern design and how it can be integrated into commercial and residential sectors. This year, in its eighth edition, the festival was a showcase of cutting edge design with over 300 events, a series of exhibitions, installations, talks, performances, music and workshops. It offered a great opportunity for visitors to talk to designers, get behind their creative process, find out what inspired them and how their design was born, and also try some of design techniques at workshops. It was definitely the right place to get inspired!

Sustainability at Clerkenwell Design Week

Although sustainability was not a highlighted theme at this year’s Clerkenwell Design Week (CDW 2016), as it was at Beirut Design Week, which was held at the same time, many exhibitors have already incorporated sustainability in their business. There were too many to show them all, but we’d like to highlight some that caught our eye and warmed our hearts.

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A ghost gear chandelier from Claire Potter Design was filled with shredded netting from marine litter, to remind us that 8 million pieces of plastic litter wind up in the oceans and cause death through ingestion and entanglement to 100,000 marine mammals annually, as well as millions of birds and fishes.

Hand-made textile pieces made with 100% wool and recycled materials and designed by Lorna Syson from Structural Textiles. Her installations can be used as acoustic panels, wall hangings or space dividers.

Lollygagger Living Range garden furniture made from recycled milk bottles and detergent packaging. When the furniture is no longer usable, the pieces can be recycled. Every Lollygagger Lounge Chair produced prevents nearly 300 milk jugs from entering the waste stream and more than 95% of the waste from the manufacturing process is sent to recycling.

Sustainable carpets from recycled and recyclable nylon

Another great representatives of sustainable design were carpets, made from ECONYL® nylon yarn. ECONYL® yarn is 100% regenerated nylon from ghost fishing nets and discarded carpet fluff, which would otherwise end up in landfills, and other plastic waste. The manufacturers — our partners — introduced new designs and inspired visitors with interesting events at CDW 2016.

Behind the scenes with ege

The story behind the nylon material for ege carpets as shown in ege showroom. Nylon is regenerated through ECONYL® Regeneration System, from carpet fluff and fishing nets, to get a new life in ege sustainable carpets.

In the ege showroom, the visitors could clearly see the link between the inspiration and the actual design of the carpets. In cooperation with Tom Dixon, ege brought the industrial landscape of London into the carpets’ designs.

London from industrial age is the inspiration for new ege carpets.

Ege showroom was full of inspiration, as was the discussion with the designer.

Tom Dixon Studio is also the design studio behind the transformation of a 17th-century London church into a chic co-working space. A great showcase of reusing old buildings and giving them a new purpose to benefit the society.

Desso for active customer involvement in the design process

Desso created a lot of buzz with their catching window installation by Foldability. It’s hand-made using the lost art of paper pleating.

Window installation at Desso showroom consists of 17,028 folds in 2 hand-made paper pleating patterns.

Desso saw the customers’ need to be part of the design process and focused their entire showroom during CDW 2016 on involving customers in this process.

With that in mind, Desso hosted an open microphone at their venue, enabling visitors to dive into creative process in the screen printing workshop and the art of paper pleating with the artist Ross Fraser McLean.

Despite many interactive workshops, that caught their attention, visitors didn’t miss Desso’s sustainable carpets, of which more than half are available with ECONYL® regenerated nylon.

Milliken inviting young talent

Milliken presented Artistic Liberties collection, made from ECONYL® yarn with 100% regenerated nylon. The design is inspired by street art and punk revival.

To help the audience get a better feel of the collection, it was accompanied by live music performances and live co-creating street art.

Milliken also launched a new initiative developed to tackle the issue of access into the design, interiors and construction sectors for young people. The project ‘DesigningFutures@CDW’ set up by Jade-Ilke Creative Solutions and supported by Sketch Studios and Milliken includes work experience and skills training for young people placed in participating showrooms.

New design by Forbo Flooring

Forbo Flooring launched a new holistic workspace collection, Forbo Synergy, which offers huge scope for creating stunning floor designs by combining Tessera carpet tiles and Allura Flex vinyl tiles. They also launched a refreshed Tessera Inline carpet tile collection which features a contemporary yet concise palette, and revealed their new Marmoleum linear collection which now includes textured designs with an R10 rating.

Sustainability woven into Interface’s carpets and business

Interface introduced a new global collection, made with ECONYL® yarn with 100% regenerated content. New World WovenTM collection is a good representative of Interface’s belief that beautiful design is vital to introducing a “better way” within interior spaces, spaces that move and inspire people who inhabit them to embrace a more sustainable life.

Nobody can present the philosophy behind the collection better than its creator, product designer & trend analyst David Oakey (David Oakey Designs), who in his presentation “Weaving Global Product Trends with Waste” showed that beautiful products can be made from waste.

Interface has been dedicated to sustainability for more than 20 years when they set “Mission Zero®” goal to have no negative impact on the planet by the year 2020. Today the company is one of the leading sustainable businesses and is moving even further — from negative to positive.

Hosting some very interesting talks, Interface gave us the opportunity to get inspiration from the world’s leading organizations spearheading sustainable ways of working.

At the panel discussion “The Future of Business: Going beyond Sustainability: Positive Impact“ hosted by architect Oliver Heath, Ryan Gellert (general manager, EMEA, Patagonia), Erin Meezan (VP Sustainability, Interface) and Munish Datta (head of Plan A and facilities management, Marks and Spencer) discussed what lies beyond sustainability.

At the panel discussion “Waste is Beautiful: The Power of Turning Trash into Environmental and Social Treasure” hosted by architect Oliver Heath, participants Paul Rose (National Geographic), Dr Nick Hill (ZSL), Miriam Turner (Interface) and David Stover (Bureo Inc) looked at how innovative thinking about waste materials can create a positive environmental and social impact.

Future of [re]Making for a circular economy, made in partnership with Interface and Thomas Matthews in the Museum of making, was a must-see for sustainability-seeking visitors. Engaging them with a sofa ‘tear down’ — tearing down an old chair, replacing its springs, and understanding the craftsmanship behind it — was a great for understanding the process and the effects our behavior has on the environment. And ‘Sofa Talks’ gave us some interesting perspectives into beautiful thinking from leading brands and designers. Ramon Arratia (Interface) and David Stover (Bureo Inc) talked about sustainable product innovation.

Design inspired by nature

Well-being of inhabitants is another aspect of sustainable design and it wasn’t missed at CDW 2016. Humans have an intuitive and ingrained attraction to nature. We feel good in nature. Industrial urban landscapes make us disconnected from nature, but biophilic design is trying to bring nature back into urban architecture and interiors, helping our physical and mental well-being along the way.

Biophilia is on everyone’s radar at the moment, and this was evident at CDW 2016. Almost every showroom had a strong focus towards biophilic design. Some inspiring biophilic design examples were shown at Interface’s showroom.

London’s is also full of biophilic architectural pearls. The best could be seen on biophilic tour of London on Interface’s bus with the architect and interior designer Oliver Heath.

This is just a sneak peek into 3 days of inspiration and great design from a sustainability perspective. There were many more at CDW 2016 but there’s not enough space to highlight them all. Design Insider and Cube Video production, however, made a great video to get the feel of the event.

Do you have something to add? Any other highlights of great sustainable design? Share in the comments below.


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