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Future of design Pavillion, Clerkenwell Design Week 2016Working as an interior design intern at Grigoriou Interiors, as well as being a passionate environmentalist myself, are the reasons why it was important for me to focus on the sustainable aspect when visiting this year’s Clerkenwell Design Week.

First of all, a massive thanks to the team at ISOMI, who were kind enough to show a very lost me the way to the Platform: my first stop of the day. There I met the lovely Lorna Syson, the designer behind Structural Textiles. Her unique pieces are hand-made using 100% wool felt and recycled materials; her installations can be used as acoustic panels, wall hangings or space dividers.

Next stop on the list: Design Fields! The first thing one saw walking up the stairs to the second floor was the new sound-absorbent Airleaf by Abstracta. It is made out of moulded felt, with the leaf-shaped modules combined into sound-diffusing screens. Talk about applying biophilia in the workspace!

On my way towards The Museum of Making, I stumbled across The Future of Design Pavilion: a wooden structure designed and built by GCSE students. Our company has always supported projects that aim to inspire people by sharing knowledge and supporting the development of our community. Hanson Plywood, who is committed to sustainable and responsible sourcing, kindly donated the materials.

Airleaf Abstracta, Clerkenwell Design Week 2016

The Museum of Making was a must-see. I witnessed the process of tearing down an old chair, replacing its springs and understanding the craftsmanship behind it. The materials used for the re-upholstery were all sustainable: horse hair, hessian and wool. The team at Urban Upholstery were very good at explaining the process and the effects our behaviour has on the environment. And if you were lucky, they’d even let you try tearing down the chair yourself!

(This BBC report discusses the size of the problem on sofas in the UK http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-35055485) (Also check out ‘The Survivor Sofa Story’, a 30min documentary that follows a small team of designers as they wage a war against waste with design as their primary method of attack – https://filmfreeway.com/project/464133)

My only question for the event organisers would be, how come none of your exhibitions had disabled access? Good design means understanding the needs of your users, and in this case the show’s audience. When did we forget to shout out about good inclusive design when we are creating showcases? Sustainable design, includes the environmental issues AND the social issues, and that is about people’s wellbeing. It was rather surprising to witness a disabled person in his wheelchair being carried down the steep metal staircase of the Platform by staff members. And should that same person only be able to see the first floor of the Design Fields exhibit? London, we are better than this!

Overall, there is definitely progress towards ‘doing the green thing’ this year, although I had to turn into Sherlock Holmes in order to find out if, for example, HackFolly was made from certified timber. I’d love to see some signs screaming “sustainable”, “recyclable” and “FSC” next year, please!

If you would like to know how to design your projects with more user wellbeing and sustainability in mind, get in touch: +44 20 7580 0611 or design@grigoriouinteriors.co.uk

The museum of making Clerkenwell Design Week 2016