As we watch the climate crisis and global warming wreak havoc on the planet, people are rethinking how and what they consume. Designers and architects hold immense power in helping to push forward that shift in consciousness. From the natural materials they use to the artisanal suppliers they work with, designers are turning to sustainable interior design and educating clients on its environmental and holistic benefits.
At Kaia, we have spent years forging relationships with small, family-run businesses who take a low or zero-waste approach to their manufacturing processes. To us, sustainability is about natural and reusable materials, made-to-order products and techniques that champion artisanal tradition. In this post, we explore what sustainable interior design means in 2020, and examine its relationship to luxury lighting.
What is sustainable interior design?
Over the past few years, “sustainability” has become a buzzword in industries and brands around the world – but what exactly does it mean to champion sustainable interior design? In his book The Shape of Green: Aesthetics, Ecology, and Design, Lance Hosey suggests that beauty is inherent to sustainability because how things are made are equally important to their look and feel. Similarly, to us at Kaia, sustainable interior design expands the focus of interiors from aesthetics to encompass the impact they have on people and planet. It takes into account functionality, wellbeing, accessibility, and the process by which objects are created.
In 2020, sustainable interior design doesn’t mean sticking to a ‘vintage’ style – though that is, of course, an option. In our opinion, it all begins with material. From croplands to quarries and forests, the way material is grown, harvested, and produced and the natural resources it consumes all complement the finished product. Upcycled designs are gaining popularity and waste is becoming a resource rather than a throwaway.
How are interior designers becoming more sustainable?
Consciousness is central to sustainable interior design. We’ve noticed that interior designers are creating spaces that are multifunctional, timeless and flexible to people’s evolving needs. By choosing products that are durable and avoid adhering to rapidly changing trends, they are maximising space and designing for longevity rather than following a cyclical style.
Part of this involves considering a circular economy in design. This could mean choosing products with a continuous life cycle which don’t contribute to landfill or products that can be repaired by the supplier they were bought from. Consciously choosing these products requires building relationships with suppliers. By finding out the sustainable values of the suppliers they work with, designers can ensure the materials and products they use are responsibly sourced.
When it comes to materials, interior designers are looking to natural products which haven’t been compromised by toxins. All of this is made easier by educating clients on the benefits of sustainable solutions in comparison to traditional solutions. We know people are increasingly conscious of global warming and plastic pollution, but they may not associate these issues with interior design.
What is Kaia doing about it
Long lasting products
At Kaia, our philosophy revolves around timeless, high-quality, and made-to-order hand-crafted design. We like to think of Kaia lighting products as the antithesis to mass production. To make this happen, we hand-pick artisans and suppliers from across Europe whose ethos matches our own. This means we know the sustainable credentials of each material we use, and each independent artisan we work with.
Every Kaia lighting product is created by artisans who use natural materials as much as possible. The mouth-blown glass we use, for example, is tailor-made for Kaia using recycled glass and natural wooden moulds at a family-run glass workshop in the Bavarian forest. These artisans use traditional techniques passed down through more than 400 years.
This level of skill and technique gives Kaia lighting products the durability and longevity that is central to sustainable interior design. Earlier in this post we also mentioned the importance of choosing products with a circular economy. One of the ways we help to uphold this is by enabling customers to bring their Kaia lighting products back to us for repair – even years after they made the purchase. Choosing to repair a product instead of replacing it with something new is one of the simplest ways people can champion sustainable interior design.
Material is the starting point of environmental consciousness, and the main material we use for any lighting product is brass formed from a mix of zinc and copper. We also avoid using any plastics whenever we can. If you’ve browsed our lighting collection, you’d have noticed that metal finishes include patinated and brushed brass. That’s because we take a natural approach to metal that avoids powder coating and lacquering whenever possible, and means all of our plating procedures and workshops adhere to environmental laws.
Another aspect of sustainable interior design that we believe shouldn’t be forgotten is the product’s packaging. When customers receive a hand-crafted lighting object from us, it comes in packing that is 90% plastic-free. In fact, the machine we use allows us to recycle old cardboard boxes from suppliers and turn them into filling material for our delivery packages – a small example of low-waste methodology. From the raw materials we use to the packaging our products are delivered in, we strive to centre luxury lighting design with environmental consciousness.
Browse Kaia Lighting collection of hand-crafted lighting products.