At Engaging Interiors incorporating sustainability into our interior designs is something we are keen to do more of. We believe it is possible, and even essential, to combine style and function with a minimal environmental impact. Our belief in lowering carbon footprints and emissions, as well as saving resources more widely is a movement that is getting more momentum every year.
In all our 20 years designing interiors we have never been asked to create a specifically sustainable project. We think it’s time that changed. We believe that we all have personal control and a responsibility to make a difference with all our choices, and we want to highlight why sustainable design is so important. Our approach is the result of years of experience in making personal changes in our own lives, rather than professional qualifications in sustainable architecture and design. But that’s exactly the point: with the motivation to learn and change, we can all reduce our carbon footprints.
So why choose a sustainable interior design? Not only will this benefit the environment, it will also have a positive impact on your staff and customers too. People’s experience of your space, whether retail or restaurant, will be enhanced by the use of non-toxic materials, natural lighting and low-carbon heating. And if your building is efficient and your customer is happy, so your profit margins will grow and your brand value increase.
There are three aspects to creating a sustainable interior: the amount of energy it takes to create, then use, and finally deconstruct or recycle the design. We will outline below how this works in practice:
Creating a sustainable interior design
Sustainable construction uses locally sourced, sustainable materials wherever possible, and second hand or recycled materials where appropriate. It is more environmentally-friendly to adapt an existing restaurant into a better one, than it is to create a whole new restaurant from scratch, so where possible work with what you already have. That way all the infrastructure is in place, which reduces the environmental impact as well as saving you money.
Using a sustainable interior
Technology is your friend here. There are plenty of high-tech solutions that can make running a restaurant or retail space more sustainable, for example, underfloor heating, photovoltaic electrics and LED lighting. Good insulation means better and more energy-efficient temperature regulation, and things like inductions hobs and efficiently-flushing toilets can all make a difference. It’s important to not confuse durability with meaning that something needs to last for a lifetime. A granite worktop, for example, will keep going forever but if you wanted to refurbish or move your premises it would be very difficult to deconstruct. A clever design will also build sustainability seamlessly into the fabric of your interior, such as a kitchen that is optimised for the easy division of recycling and waste products. The choice of materials is also key, and this is where some knowledge of which woods are more sustainable than others, for example, is vital. We try to source eco-paints and sustainable fabrics that are also robust, comfortable and cleanable.
Deconstructing a sustainable interior
If you need to take apart the interior of your restaurant for any reason, fixed units and furnishings will be far harder to remove. For a sustainable solution you need to consider using stand-alone furniture that you can simply pack up and take with you. Anything that can be reused or easily recycled is preferable: tiles, for example, can be made into hardcore, and a timber floor can be re-purposed elsewhere. Stainless steel and granite, again, are far harder to deal with in an environmentally-beneficial way.
We at Engaging Interiors are committed to creating beautiful, effective and sustainable interiors. We can advise you on all aspects of this, from tiny details to higher-investment items. Or you can just rest assured that any project we work on for you will have this commitment at its heart. We want all our designs to work for you, your customer, and the planet.