Like other sectors such as the fashion, beauty, motor and food industries before it, the design/property sector will approach a tipping point in terms of environmental awareness. We already know that since 2014, global sustainable and environmentally responsible investment is up 68 percent and now tops USD 30 trillion.
In light of this, MAWD has looked at examples beyond the property sector to seek more sustainable materials.
Think about Allbirds, which makes shoes from planet-friendly materials like merino wool and eucalyptus. We also discovered Piñatex, a pioneering leather substitute made from pineapple leaf fiber. The Piñatex parent company, Ananas Anam, provides a more humane and sustainable leather alternative while proving pineapple farmers in the Philippines with an additional source of income. It’s now being used in clothing, car upholstery and footwear, with customers that include Hugo Boss, H&M and Skoda.
Then there’s also Altrock’s beautiful terrazzo surfaces, made from reclaimed byproducts from natural stone. We started thinking about new ways of filling chairs, creating kitchen tops or bathroom spaces from repurposed, recycled and more sustainable materials.
Many of these materials are still under the radar. By incorporating them into our design process, we can create new storytelling moments that tap into global issues that are already gaining traction in terms of public awareness.
We all know that people are questioning the wider impact of the food they eat, the clothes they buy, the cars they drive and the products they apply. In the real estate sector, the importance of sustainability is underscored by the fact that real estate is the world’s most important and largest asset class with a global value of more than $200 trillion. At the same time, real estate consumes 40% of the world’s energy and we spend 90% of our time indoors. This means that almost all aspects of life and business are affected by what happens within real estate.
We like to think that as designers, we can play a part in enacting change, by matching the business case with spaces that still need to be cool, beautiful and aesthetically relevant to create a unique and desirable experience.