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5 Vital Principles of Sustainable Design

Sustainable design can be difficult to define because it has so many moving parts. In this blog post we look at our own definition of sustainable design, and how it is important to every stage of our fabrics’ production.

We’re sharing this definition with you today because we believe it’s useful to interior designers and architects the world over.

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What we mean when we say ‘sustainable design’

First, let’s answer the question: sustainable design is the philosophy of a better future. It’s about solving problems not only for the people using a space, but also for the environment the space is in. It’s about designing products and spaces holistically, through designers’ thoughtful decisions.

Sharlyn Underwood, American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) Virginia chapter president and interior designer with SmithLewis Architecture, defines sustainable design in the architectural sector this way: “Sustainable design is the practice of designing buildings so that they exist in harmony with natural systems.”

There are two very important things to remember when it comes to sustainable product design:

  1. One: Aspects of sustainable design aren’t only there to be tacked onto the end of the design process as a ‘nice to have’ extra. Sustainability needs to be woven into every step of the design process, from creative ideation to finished project.
  2. Two: Interior designers are powerful. They have a responsibility to the future of the planet because they choose the materials used that people interact with every day.

Keeping those points in mind, here are the five principles of sustainable design as we define them:

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One: learning from nature

The natural world is always in flux. Flora and fauna have their own cycles, and both contribute to the health of the natural world. The world of design has always taken cues from the natural world, for many different reasons.

“Nature does nothing uselessly.” – Aristotle

Nature, for example, fits form to function. It recycles everything and is always reinventing. The natural world is made up of delicate balances between living creatures, plants and insect life. Nature rewards the cooperation of these different balances.

How can interior designers, architects and even the textiles industry itself copy the natural world? They must adapt. Instead of reacting to a changing world, we need to become what has been described as ‘antifragile’.

“Antifragility is beyond resilience or robustness. The resilient resists shocks and stays the same; the antifragile gets better.”
― Nassim Nicholas Taleb, Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder
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The Garden Room, by Nitin Barchha and Disney Davis of the architecture firm The White Room

Two: learning from nature by conserving & looking at the whole life cycle

For years industrial nations have relied on non-renewable, stored forms of energy (coal, petroleum and natural gas). They have also consumed energy at wasteful rates.

The world has woken up to the fact that energy conservation is a large part of sustainable design.

A smart way to conserve energy in design is through evaluating the environmental impact of materials and products through their entire life cycle.

Three: respect for people as well as the environment

The environment isn’t the only thing that sustainable design respects. It also respects humans and their needs.

For much of the last century, architecture worked with the function of a space instead of its form. This is changing, as we realise that healthy design is just as important for ecological reasons as it is for healthy people.

One way we are respecting the planet and our consumers is through our certification under the STANDARD 100 by OEKO-TEX®.

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Four: respect for the local environment

In architecture, a closer fit to the local environment is better when it comes to sustainability. This hyper-local focus is sometimes referred to as a ‘vernacular architecture’, and as such it has to adhere to the aesthetic of the region & its landscape.

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Five: respect for the future

Sustainable design, as we said at the beginning of this article, is future-focused. The other four principles of sustainable design all weave into this final one, culminating in a fundamental respect for the future.

At FibreGuard we are committed to proactively meeting the demands of the planet instead of just reacting to the challenges presented by global industrialisation.

This proactivity is future-oriented.

Sustainable design at FibreGuard

At FibreGuard we know that the demands of form and function are best when taken together. After all, everybody wants beauty in their interiors. Everyone wants appealing architecture.

Everyone also wants the objects they use and the spaces they inhabit to be functional, accessible, and user-friendly. Quality is another essential component of the fabric collections we create. We are committed to combining technical excellence with quality and design, providing both inspiration and peace of mind to interior enthusiasts.

Form + function + quality + sustainable design strategies are the core values we stand by. Partner with us today.

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