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100% Design – How can design fight climate change?

We invited a friend and fellow design enthusiast Andrew Prosser from FizzArch to share insights and thoughts from the talk Elina participated in at 100% Design this year. The talk was organised to raise awareness of the Sustainable Development Goals set by the UN in 2015 and which governments around the world have signed up to. Within Grigoriou Interiors we are working towards the achievement of Goals 3, 12 and 17 specifically. Which goals are you contributing towards?

Are cutting edge designs and being green mutually exclusive?

By Andrew Prosser

I am always looking for new ideas so I headed to the 100% Design Show which is a great place to find them.

Great design and ideas were in abundance again although this year the gobsmack moment was not an exquisitely designed desk but seeing the capability of the Leica BLK360 3D point cloud and imaging laser scanner!

As an interlude, I sat down to take in the discussion boldly titled How can design fight climate change?

It was a knock-out talk chaired by Alexi Sommer of Thomas Matthews with four highly accomplished and passionate speakers.

The seminar kicked off with the artist and furniture designer Brodie Neill explaining his work. He had made a round table “for discussion and thought” from the man-made detritus that is micro plastic recovered from the sea. Poignantly he explained that the colour palette was not selected but was a consequence of marine life consuming the brighter coloured plastic from this oceanic waste soup.

The illuminating Rich Gilbert of Agency of Design described that he had been involved in the development of a super-efficient led lamp which could well become the one and only light bulb you will ever need to buy and also the work he was doing on hydrogen fuel cells. Wow, a designer directly tackling the biggest issue of carbon dioxide emissions head on.

Elina Grigoriou of Grigoriou Interiors explained that from inception the raison d’être of her interior design business was sustainability and as a result she had to develop the sustainable design tools and rules which led her to being instrumental in the development of what is now the SKA accreditation scheme that is owned by the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors.

With sustainability as the primary design driver she expressed the importance of enthusing and informing clients who will then see the benefits that such a holistic approach will provide to their business as well as the environment. Also, contrary to the general perception she proved that it shouldn’t be more expensive in fact less is more when it comes to a sustainable interior design.

Gwen Webber of the British Council explained how they champion and facilitate collaborations to create something positive and this panel was certainly a productive and informative ideas exchange. In particular it highlighted the following issues;

  • The development of circular economy; to make waste an important and attractive raw material.
  • That producers must take back their waste as it will force design for disassembly and reuse. This will require legislation although the influence of consumer choice has driven producer responsibility. Our choices as specifiers matter
  • Design is a thinking process for solving problems and saving the planet should be our primary goal.

Rich Gilbert referencing from the book Sustainable Energy – Without the Hot Air by David MacKay suggested if we all do something small it will add up to a small change. We need to focus on the right level of change; we can make incremental improvements but it won’t deliver the output we need.

When I am designing buildings I am always looking for ways to minimise the impact on the environment such as designing in flexibility, ease of recyclability, renewable energy generation, heat recovery, rain water harvesting so it is reassuring to know that when interior designers set to work they continue this aspiration.



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