A legacy of responsible design

Jan 28, 2024

Businesses must embrace sustainable interior design, prioritizing eco-friendly materials, longevity, and heritage to mitigate environmental impact and meet consumer demands.


In a world where the environmental impact of our choices has never been more pronounced, it's time for enterprises to rethink their approach to interior design. The prevailing paradigm of “style” for interiors has by definition favored ephemeral trends, but in the face of climate change and dwindling resources, the need for a more sustainable and heritage-based approach is becoming increasingly evident. This paradigm shift prioritizes sustainable materials, embracing timeless designs, and ultimately ensuring the longevity of our planet.


It's imperative to recognize that the way we design our interior spaces has a significant environmental impact. The extraction and processing of exotic and non-renewable materials have taken a toll on the earth's finite resources. The carbon footprint associated with manufacturing and transporting these materials across the globe is substantial. Moreover, the disposal of short-lived trendy elements adds to the burden of overflowing landfills. The time has come to acknowledge that the endless churn of “style” is unsustainable and shortsighted.


Enter the era of sustainable interior design, a movement that champions the use of eco-friendly and ethically sourced materials. Sustainable materials, such as reclaimed wood, recycled glass, and organic textiles, present a refreshing alternative to traditional interior design. These materials not only reduce the environmental footprint but also contribute to a sense of heritage and authenticity within our spaces. The warmth of reclaimed wood, the charm of handcrafted pottery, and the character of recycled glass can infuse interiors with a unique appeal that transcends transient trends. Moreover, designing the building's core and shell elements to be exposed, like concrete ceilings, cores, and slabs, not only creates a holistic feel within the building that emphasizes placemaking but reduces building materials to save embodied carbon.


Sustainability, however, is not just about materials; it extends to the entire life cycle of the products used in interior design. From manufacturing and transportation to usage and disposal, every aspect must be considered. Initial programming and planning, with the goal of eliminating and reusing what we can, is a crucial first step. FXCollaborative’s goal is to use at least 20% repurposed furniture and recycled materials for all of our interiors work. By embracing designs that stand the test of time, eschewing short-lived trends, and ensuring adaptability to future needs, enterprises can reduce the need for frequent interior renovations and the associated resource consumption. This approach aligns with the principles of sustainability and offers economic advantages by reducing long-term costs and minimizing disruptions to operations.


In our pursuit of a more sustainable approach to interior design, it's important to remember that sustainability doesn't mean sacrificing style or aesthetics. In fact, sustainable designs can be exceptionally beautiful and timeless. Natural materials, with their inherent textures and colors, create a connection to the environment, fostering an atmosphere of tranquility and harmony within our interior spaces. Simplicity, durability, and functionality become key aspects of design, ensuring that the interiors will remain relevant and captivating for years to come.


Businesses should also consider the cultural and historical significance of sustainable designs. By incorporating elements of heritage and tradition, interior spaces can pay homage to local craftsmanship and cultural identities. The use of indigenous materials and artisanal techniques not only supports local economies but also instills a sense of place and history within the interior environment. This connection to heritage celebrates our shared past and inspires a commitment to preserving the planet for future generations.


The integration of sustainable interior design aligns with a growing consumer demand for eco-conscious businesses and institutions. Customers are increasingly looking for businesses that demonstrate a commitment to sustainability, ethical sourcing, and responsible design. By adopting a sustainable approach, enterprises can attract a more conscientious clientele and differentiate themselves in a competitive market. Sustainability is not merely a buzzword; it's a fundamental shift in consumer values that savvy businesses can leverage for long-term success.


In conclusion, we need to rethink “style” in interiors from a business perspective. It is not merely a matter of aesthetics – it's a call to action for a more sustainable and responsible approach. By embracing sustainable materials and design principles, businesses and institutions can make a positive impact on the environment while creating interiors that stand the test of time. This approach aligns with the principles of environmental conservation and caters to the evolving preferences of a more eco-conscious consumer base. Ultimately, sustainable interior design is not just a trend – it’s a legacy that will leave a lasting impression on both our interiors and the planet.


Florencia Kratsman, ASID, NCIDQ, LEED AP, is director of interior architecture at FXCollaborative. Contact her at fkratsman@fxcollaborative.com.

About Zweig Group

Zweig Group, three times on the Inc. 500/5000 list, is the industry leader and premiere authority in AEC firm management and marketing, the go-to source for data and research, and the leading provider of customized learning and training. Zweig Group exists to help AEC firms succeed in a complicated and challenging marketplace through services that include: Mergers & Acquisitions, Strategic Planning, Valuation, Executive Search, Board of Director Services, Ownership Transition, Marketing & Branding, and Business Development Training. The firm has offices in Dallas and Fayetteville, Arkansas.