With a growing environmental awareness worldwide, companies are making an effort to change and reduce their environmental impact – and the furniture industry and the interior design sector are no different.
What is Sustainable Interior Design?
Sustainable Interior Design can be defined as improving the quality of life of the people utilizing the indoor space while minimizing negative impacts on the environment. So, when selecting eco furniture and other furnishings we should have a holistic thinking and consider the life-cycle impact of each step, from raw material through the manufacturing process and through the product’s end of life. But we need to remember that embedded in the definitions of sustainability we find more than the environmental dimension.
Sustainability has three dimensions: the environmental, economic and social dimension. So, sustainable furniture is based on the closed-loop cycle of recycling, the reduction of the carbon footprint to the minimum possible and the respect for workers (fair wages and fair work conditions).
Importance of sustainable furniture in the interior spaces
The spaces we build have an impact on the environment. The materials, the finishes, the furniture and the equipment we select have an impact on the environment. But the spaces we live in and use have also an impact on our physical and mental well-being. Some studies suggest that indoor air quality is often 2-5 times more polluted than outdoor air quality. Given that we spend a lot of time indoors, it’s very important to select sustainable furniture that causes less damage to the environment and that is good for making places safer and healthier for people.
What makes furniture eco-friendly?
So that you understand better what makes furniture be sustainable, below are some tips.
The local production
- When you choose local materials, local manufacturing and local sustainable furniture, you are saving on transportation, reducing the energy usage and carbon emissions, and getting control over where the materials are extracted from and the fair conditions of the workers who did your furniture
- When you choose biodegradable furniture, made of organic raw materials such as vegetable fibers that are readily available (and easily extractable), that have a high-recyclability and are easily repurposed, this yields a low environmental impact
- When you choose natural wood furniture which wood is readily available and originates from forests that are responsibly managed), it has a practically unlimited durability and the waste is usually 100% biodegradable
- When you choose upholstered furniture with natural textiles (readily available and biodegradable) or recycled textiles (using a commonplace waste, often destined for landfill), you are reducing the impact on the environment
- When you choose furniture made of biodegradable materials such as cork, which is renewable, recyclable and 100% biodegradable, you are choosing quality and durability;
- When you choose natural cork furniture with the material is anti allergenic, you are protecting people against allergies as cork does not absorb dust and, consequently, prevents the appearance of mites
- When you choose cork furniture which material has the ability to retain carbon dioxide, you are increasing the air quality of the spaces
- When you choose eco furniture without harmful chemicals – in the finishes, adhesives and treatments – such as volatile organic compounds (VOCs), you are avoiding their release into your home’s air. So, you are minimizing a existência de allergies, migraines and asthma in people
The spent of energy
- When you choose lighting products with LED lights, you are spending less energy which is great for the environment and you are saving money on your electricity bill in the long term. LED lights are far more energy efficient and have longer lifetimes than conventional light bulbs. In fact, LED light bulbs last 25 times longer and, in comparison to traditional light bulbs, use 90 percent less energy.
- When you choose eco furniture with light tones, you are maximizing the natural light which is energy boosting for mental health and you are reducing the energy spent with artificial light.
- When you choose eco-friendly furniture with recyclable and recycled packaging, this reduces energy waste in transportation and natural waste at the end of use
- When you choose eco-friendly furniture that is easy to clean and maintain, you are maximizing the lifetime of the products and protecting against allergies that are caused by mites
How can I start decorating my commercial spaces greener?
The duty to raise awareness and generate a change for the environment is a responsibility that belongs to everyone. The selection of sustainable furniture for your interior projects is one of the many actions that your company can carry out. And a sustainable approach starts at the very beginning – in the creation of the interior design process.
Related to sustainable furniture, whether it’s for a commercial, residencial, corporate or hospitality interior project, there are many sustainable solutions and suppliers. When looking for green or sustainable furniture, think about the following:
- What’s it made of?
- Is the piece durable?
- Is the furniture recyclable at the end of life?
- Are materials and chemicals used in the piece?
- Do the wood come from FSC forests?
- Is the paint, stain or finish water-based?
- Has the product a reduced and eco-friendly package?
- Does the country where the piece was made use green building practices?
- Does this manufacturer have a Social Equity Code of Conduct?
- How far did the piece have to travel?
Besides this, various labels provide some initial guidance too. There are many labels according to the countries, some better known than others, such as FSC, OEKO-TEX, EU Ecolabel, Greenguard, Carbon Neutral, Ecologo. But note that labels are good but the transparency is even better.
Find out some examples from the world of interior design that demonstrate that environmentally conscious home interiors can take many creative forms.
The offices developed by Moore Design have always concerns on comfort, sustainability, functionality and beauty, being open-spaces, work spaces, relaxation spaces or privacy spaces. They have care when selecting the materials, being fabrics, foams or raw materials. The small cork stools are very flexible for flexible offices, with the advantage of being 100% vegetable, biodegradable, recyclable and anti-allergic.
Craveiral Farmhouse on the Alentejo coast, in Portugal, it’s the perfect combination of contact with nature and the comfort of modern life. It’s a balanced combination of luxury and simplicity, where we feel the nature indoors and outdoors. The architectural project was developed by Tiago Silva Dias and all spaces are decorated and equipped with local authentic products, respecting its origins and roots. The natural light is very present and the furnishings bring warmth to the space. The cork stool, the wooden chair and the cork armchair by DAM are made of solid ash and cork, being a very eco choice. The bistro table, the desk and the floor lamp are bespoke products developed by DAM with the same philosophy of the project and made of biodegradable materials.
Sonel Hotels is a family hotel group in Lagos, Portugal. The rooms of Costa D’oiro Ambiance Village include honest and sustainable materials in its products. They are suspended lamps, lounge chairs, mirrors and decorative baskets made of vegetable fibers, stools made of 100% natural agglomerated dark cork, chairs made of FSC-certified wood and handmade rugs produced locally. These eco-friendly furniture displays functionality and beauty and lets us relax and connect to the local identity.
Discover more eco-responsible furniture.