Bring a feel-good vibe into your home By seek­ing out de­sign­ers that have a sus­tain­able ethos and give Back to the com­mu­nity.

Good (UAE) - - CONTENTS - Words: Hala Kha­laf

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.


“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

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