Our five-pronged approach focuses on your individual strengths to develop your unique qualities towards making you an exemplary pi- designer.
Table of Content:
The concept of sustainability and conscious living has become an undeniable concern in every aspect of our lives, irrespective of who we are and what we do. However, it is the architects and interior designers who have the power to determine how materials and construction methods may affect the environment, which increases their responsibility tenfold.
The profound influence of sustainability permeates the core of design fields, leaving no aspect untouched, including the field of interior design. Despite being a subset of a broader industry (AEC), interior design has adequate potential to either harm or heal the environment. And this is where sustainable interior design takes precedence.
In today’s world, sustainability in interior design is setting a new standard of excellence that mirrors the values and aspirations of the modern consumer. The goal is to meet our needs and desires while ensuring that future generations can do the same.
Sustainable interior design goes beyond aesthetics and comfort; it is about designing spaces that are environmentally responsible, socially conscious, and economically viable. It
is a holistic approach to designing indoor spaces that take into account the needs of the environment, health and well-being of occupants, and the global community. The concept
prioritises the entire lifecycle of materials and products used, right from extraction and manufacturing, to installation and disposal. It also includes designing recycled interiors by reusing materials and ethically sourcing products.
In the face of the escalating climate crisis and environmental degradation, sustainable interior design has emerged as a powerful response. It doesn’t merely consider aesthetics and functionality but actively reduces harm to the environment and benefits society. This approach helps in combating climate change by using fewer resources, saving energy, and fostering a deeper connection between us and our surroundings.
A traditional or conventional approach to interior design emphasises aesthetics and functionality but often comes with major environmental issues. Some of these issues are:
1. Resource depletion - A concern driven by the widespread use of timber, metals, and fossil fuel-based products, contributing to deforestation and non-renewable resource exhaustion.
2. High energy consumption - Manufacturing and inefficient energy use in lighting and HVAC systems escalate environmental impact.
3. Pollution - The release of harmful chemicals from the production of paints, adhesives, and synthetic materials and the dependency on toxic substances, like lead-based paints, can pose health risks.
4. Substantial waste - The generation from construction and frequent replacement of short-lived furnishings add to landfill pollution.
The cumulative weight of these issues can exert a tremendous impact on the environment, demanding the implementation and promotion of sustainability in interior design.
Material selection is a critical aspect of any design process, with significant implications for both the environment and human health. The choice of materials directly influences a project’s sustainability, energy efficiency, and overall environmental impact. The purpose of using eco-friendly materials is to reduce the carbon footprint of a design, conserve natural resources, reduce energy consumption during manufacturing, and minimise pollution.
Sustainable interior design hinges on using low-impact, non-toxic, eco-friendly materials. While materials like wood and natural stone may appear as eco-friendly choices, their scarcity and renewability must also be taken into account.
Fast-growing bamboo, for instance, is a durable and flexible alternative that can be used for furniture, flooring, and other design elements. Bonus - it suits a variety of interior styles.
Ecopaint, made from clay and starch, reduces volatile organic chemicals. Cork can be used for flooring and wall coverings. It is fire and water-resistant and has anti-bacterial and acoustic benefits. Recycled glass can be used for lighting fixtures, tiles, and countertops.
Energy consumption is a major driver of environmental damage and climate change. Many modern homes use excess electricity and produce harmful greenhouse gases. Sustainable interior design can make a significant difference by reducing emissions, using renewable energy or cutting down the energy needed for lighting, heating, and cooling purposes.
1. Maximising natural light - Include large windows and openings and go for colours that brighten up the space, reducing the need for artificial lighting. The placement of windows on opposite walls also promotes cross-ventilation.
2. Efficient insulation - Proper insulation keeps the temperature stable, minimising the need for heating and cooling.
3. Window treatments - Insulating curtains, blinds, or drapes help control light and heat from entering, thus maintaining a comfortable temperature.
4. Flooring solutions - Carpets and rugs can retain warmth, saving on heating costs.
Water conversation is crucial for sustainability in interior design, given the widespread water shortage crisis on a global level. Some ways of practising water conservation include:
These measures play a vital role in addressing the pressing issue of water scarcity and contribute to a more sustainable future.
Good indoor air quality and proper ventilation are one of the core principles of sustainable interior design. Not only does it reduce the risk of respiratory issues, headaches, and nausea, but it also ensures improved productivity and healthier occupants. Some practices that can improve the ventilation and air quality of interiors are:
Biophilic design is an approach that incorporates natural elements into interior spaces, such as plants, water features and natural light. It also encourages the use of eco-friendly materials with low impact, like wood and stone. It aims to create environments that not only reduce stress levels but also elevate cognitive functions and promote relaxation and well-being. Additionally, natural materials can help reduce noise levels and create a calming atmosphere.
Minimalism in design equates to using minimum resources and recycling old furniture without compromising your current needs. Interior designers can proactively look for companies that develop materials from waste and recycled materials to ensure they do not overspend on items that can be reused. This helps to reduce waste and also helps to conserve natural resources.
Sustainable interior design has frequently been encircled by myths and misconceptions that limit its widespread adoption. In reality, green interior design is a versatile and affordable approach that benefits the environment and enhances the well-being of occupants. Let’s debunk these myths one by one:
Reality - One of the biggest misconceptions about sustainable interior design is that it is inherently more expensive than conventional designs. While it's not entirely incorrect that some sustainable interior design materials have higher upfront costs, the long-term financial benefits often outweigh the initial investment. Sustainable interior design emphasises durability, reducing the need for frequent replacements and repairs. Moreover, energy-efficient fixtures and appliances also lead to lower utility bills, contributing to long-term savings.
Reality - Sustainable interior design offers a diverse range of materials and design possibilities. From reclaimed wood and recycled metals to innovative eco-friendly textiles and sustainable furniture, there is a plethora of options to choose from. Embracing sustainability not only opens the door to environmentally responsible choices but also encourages innovation and out-of-the-box customised stunning spaces. It empowers designers to craft visually captivating spaces that reduce the impact on the environment.
Reality - When you opt for sustainable interior design, you make a conscious choice to nurture the environment, and in doing so, you also tend to your own mental and physical well-being. The emphasis on indoor air quality, natural light, and incorporation of biophilic elements contribute to a healthier indoor environment.
Consider the absence of adequate natural light - it not only affects your mental state but also drives increased electricity consumption. Opting for non-toxic paint and transitioning to organic mattresses, upholstery, and energy-efficient appliances can significantly improve your well-being. These choices not only promote personal health but also contribute to a more sustainable lifestyle.
Reality - While environmental concerns are central to sustainable interior design, it also addresses the well-being and comfort of occupants. Sustainable interior design materials often emit fewer VOCs, improving indoor air quality. Energy-efficient lighting and HVAC systems increase comfort and reduce energy costs.
For instance, when you invest in a locally crafted wooden desk, rather than a factory-made counterpart, you not only secure a longer-lasting piece but also save costs in the long run. Likewise, if you choose to recycle and refurbish your existing furniture, you not only contribute to sustainability by reducing transportation and the need for new purchases but also enjoy financial benefits.
Reality - Sustainable interior design principles are not just limited to new projects. They can very well be integrated into renovations and existing spaces. Retrofits, such as improving insulation or upgrading lighting, can enhance sustainability in older constructions. It is a flexible and adaptable approach, suitable for a wide range of projects.
Sustainability is an indispensable factor in shaping interior spaces, be it within your home, workplace, or the furnishings that inhabit these spaces. Here’s how you can incorporate sustainability into various interior spaces:
Factors you need to consider:
1. Sustainable materials - Opt for eco-friendly materials such as reclaimed wood, bamboo flooring, recycled glass, and cork for interior finishes and furnishings. These materials reduce the demand for brand-new resources.
2. Low-VOC paints and finishes - It improves indoor air quality and emits fewer harmful chemicals.
3. Energy-efficiency - Invest in energy-efficient appliances, LED lighting, and smart thermostats to cut down energy consumption. Proper insulation and sealed windows also help in energy efficiency.
4. Renewable energy - Install solar panels or wind turbines to generate clean, renewable energy for your home. It reduces your carbon footprint.
5. Water conservation - Install water-saving fixtures like dual-flush toilets and low-flow faucets. Collect rainwater and use it for your garden.
6. Sustainable furniture - Furnish your home with sustainable furniture made from materials like reclaimed wood or recycled metal. Consider multifunctional and recycled furniture that can be reused, instead of investing in new pieces.
1. Energy efficiency - Incorporate natural light and energy-efficient lighting systems to minimise electricity usage. Implement motion sensors and timers to control lighting automatically when spaces are unoccupied.
2. Flexible workspace - Implement flexible, multifunctional workspaces that can adapt to changing needs. It reduces the need for constant renovations.
3. Sustainable furniture - Opt for furniture made from sustainable, low-impact materials. These are usually durable and last longer. Also, consider modular furniture that can be reused to fulfil future requirements.
Other factors to consider:
1. Reuse, repurpose, recycle - Repurpose old or unused items into brand-new functional or decorative pieces. Reuse materials from discarded items to create stunning recycled interiors.
2. DIY projects - Engage in do-it-yourself (DIY) projects to upcycle old furniture or materials. This activity also adds a personal touch to your space.
3. Community exchange - Participate in community events and exchange or give away items you no longer need. It raises awareness and encourages others to take their first step towards a sustainable lifestyle.
1. Maximise natural light - Place windows and reflective surfaces strategically, reducing the need for artificial lighting during the day.
2. LED lighting - Replace traditional incandescent bulbs with energy-efficient LED lights. They consume significantly less energy, last longer, and emit less heat.
3. Solar-powered lighting - Consider solar-powered lighting options, especially for outdoor areas.
4. Dimmer controls and timers - Install dimmer controls and timers to adjust lighting levels based on occupancy and time of day. This ensures that lights are only used when needed.
5. Compact fluorescent lamps(CFLs) - While less efficient than LEDs, CFLs are still more energy-efficient than traditional incandescent bulbs. Use CFLs in areas where LEDs may not be suitable.
Sustainable interior design is a powerful and holistic approach that enhances our immediate environment, ensuring that our needs and desires are met while addressing the pressing environmental challenges. By choosing eco-friendly materials, energy-efficient solutions, and adopting practices like repurposing and upcycling, sustainability can be seamlessly integrated into interior spaces. It also emerges as a way to educate and encourage the world to adopt eco-friendly design practices that reflect our values and aspirations. As the world faces the challenges of a changing climate, embracing sustainable interior design is essential for creating healthier indoor spaces that benefit current and future generations.
Explore Beyond This Article
Enjoyed reading this in-depth piece? In another vein, Author Sukanya Bhattacharjee has also written about the importance of ergonomics in interior architecture and design. If you’re up for knowing more about interior architecture and design? A closer look at this page will guide you with exciting opportunities for the Interior Architecture and Design programme at IIAD.
To get more guidance on the diverse career opportunities in the field of Interior Architecture & Design, checkout our comprehensive webinar at IIAD. Stay tuned for more information on the activities at IIAD’s Interior Architecture and Design department.
An independent architect and writer based in Bombay, Sukanya started as a practicing architect but soon discovered the vast potential for multifaceted roles within the AEC industry. This led her to explore a series of possibilities – from design ...
ing and curating to researching and writing. Witnessing her designs come to life, critical thinking, and writing gave her a perspective both as a designer and a writer. With two years of independent work, she’s had the privilege of collaborating with publication houses, architectural studios, firms, organizations, and educational institutions. She advocates for mental health and is often found doing spoken word poetry.
Did you know that we spend about 90% of our time indoors! We use the built environment, especially interior spaces,…
We live in a hyperlinked, hyper-connected world! Whatsapp, Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, Youtube, Google, have become verbs that represent “things we…
The moment one hears the word fashion, one immediately visualises, beautiful clothes, bags, accessories, interesting prints, embroidery and colours, glamour,…
In the first of our series of interactions with you, the aspiring Communication Design student, I think it is important…
The digital age has allowed photography to boom like never before. It’s a massive, commercial industry which is growing explosively…