Bring a feel-good vibe into your home By seeking out designers that have a sustainable ethos and give Back to the community.
Five designers who are giving back to the community.
like most design fields, interior design is inextricably tied to changing styles — what’s hot and what’s not. And right now, sustainability in design is what’s hot.
Whether we’re talking decoration, renovation or architectural detailing, designers must stay abreast of current trends – and the fastest-growing segment in the industry is the incorporation of sustainable, eco-friendly design.
That can mean anything from the use of rainwater-collection vessels to supplement water needs, to being mindful of the materials used in order to reduce the impact that furniture purchases have on the environment, to figuring out how to reduce energy consumption, pollution and waste when designing homes and housing developments.
And it can also mean giving back through design collaborations and social projects that provide economic benefit to those in need, and creating sustainable solutions through community awareness.
Here are five sustainable design initiatives that we can all get behind, and would make a mindful, unique addition to any interior.
01. Creating livelihoods through design
This year, the product range at IKEA will welcome a new addition, one unlike anything we’ve seen before from the Swedish giants, but still in mind with their environmentally friendly sourcing and community-focused initiatives.
The new Tilltalande range of handcrafted textiles is a partnership between IKEA and the Jordan River Foundation (JRF) – an ngo that has initiated numerous socioeconomic projects for women, youth and children in Jordan – and was launched “to integrate Syrian refugees with local community women through a series of collaborative handicraft collections capturing Jordan’s tradition and heritage”, says a spokesperson at JRF.
“it helps sustain social and economic stability across host communities, offering local Jordanian women and Syrian refugees in Jordan jobs to produce handmade carpets and embroidery items.”
Featuring embroidered textiles, cushion covers, floor cushions and carpets, the first limited collection of handcrafted textiles was produced by more than 110 female artisans, a number that will double this year, reaching 400 by the end of 2020. The fun and colourful soft furnishings, full of playful motifs like 3d cacti, camels, handembroidered eyes, palm trees and other symbols of the region, were launched in Amman’s IKEA store last month, and will be available in IKEA stores across the Middle East, north Africa and Europe during the first half of the year.
“it’s about co-creating great design while creating jobs,” says Ann-sofie gunnarsson, development leader Social Entrepreneurs at IKEA of Sweden. “We end up with unique products that are affordable to many.”
02. Embroidered sustainability
A Uae-based social enterprise set up by a mother-daughter team from lebanon, 81 designs (left) has created a livelihood for Palestinian refugee women living in lebanon by getting them to use their talents in embroidery – or tatreez, as it is known in Palestine – to recreate the work of regional artists in embroidery form.
THESE VIBRANT RUBBER ANIMALS STARTED LIFE AS TRASH ON THE BEACH
“The results are unique art pieces that empower female refugees by creating jobs based around their skill sets,” explains co-founder nadine Maalouf. For their latest collaboration, “Standing Tall”, which was recently unveiled at Abu dhabi Art, 81 designs collaborated with lebanese furniture designers Bokja, who also aim for sustainability by recycling discarded antiques and vintage textiles to create new furniture pieces that are a work of art. “At 81 designs, we want to give back,” explains nadine. “We are about empowering women, making a difference in the community and mixing art with humanity.”
03. Trash turned into art
if you’ve been to the Collective in Al Quoz lately, you will have noticed the brightly coloured animals of all sizes right at the entrance when you walk in. These rubber animals, which would be a brilliant, vibrant touch of art in any home, started life as trash on the beach.
A team from a local community in East Africa roam the beaches and collect discarded or washed up flip flops left on the shores. These are then skinned, washed and sanitised before the artistic process can begin. The local art teams manually craft and design the recycled pieces to create highly detailed multicoloured animals. At Savannah Pop, run by dubaibased couple Ronke and Joseph Emielu, sustainability meets art.
“our most beloved animal is the five-foot-high giraffe,” says Ronke,
“As well as the mini lions and elephants.” The animals come in five sizes: the minis measure 12.5 centimetres and start at dh100; the medium are 25 centimetres high; the large are 35 centimetres high; the extra-large, like the giraffe, are 1.5 metres tall (dh2,200); and the giant animals are 1.8 metres tall or larger.
04. Upcycle old bottles
Any vessel that can hold a bit of water and a few sprigs of foliage can be upcycled into a stylish vase with the Paper vase Cover by dutch designer Pepe Heykoop, stocked at Urban nest in Home and Soul. Made of coated paper with the texture of leather, the adjustable covers come in an array of prints and colours, and can fit over any old bottle, jar or glass. They come flat-packed in an envelope, are easy to construct, and are handmade by women in one of the poorest neighbourhoods of Mumbai, india. By buying a cover, made possible through the Tiny Miracles Foundation in Mumbai, you ensure a fair-paying job, improved healthcare and education for a whole community, helping to break the poverty cycle. The paper covers come in two sizes: small (dhs70) and large (dhs100).
05. Sustainability underfoot
if you’re looking for a rug that can make a difference, seek out homegrown rugs by the Fatima Bint Mohammed Bin Zayed initiative (FBMI). FBMI was launched in 2010 and employs local Afghani women to handweave carpets using age-old techniques that might otherwise cease to exist. Since its launch, FBMI has hired more than 3000 Afghani artisans, 70 per cent of whom are women, and 35 per cent of whom are widows, and thus the sole breadwinners in their families. The carpets are crafted using vegan dyes and materials sourced from Afghanistan – either fine hand-spun cotton sourced from the northern regions, or wool sheared from free-range and hormone-free sheep that live in the country’s mountains and plains.
Cushions in IKEA’S new Tilltalande range
03 Savannah Pop lion, dhs100
05 Peace carpet 403, from FBMI, dhs14,000
04 Paper Vase Covers by Tiny Miracles at Urban nest, from dhs70