In recent years, the idea of environmentally friendly – or at least not environmentally aggressive – design has moved from having a peripheral status to playing a central role. This means many more interesting options for those of us keen to prioritise sustainability in our interiors choices
You may well be familiar with the claim that a forested area the size of a football pitch is cleared in the Amazon every minute, which has led to more scrutiny of the wood used to make furniture. Checking for Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification is a start; this designation is given to timber harvested from forests that are responsibly managed, socially beneficial, environmentally conscious and economically viable. Italian firm Porada – a specialist in contemporary wood furniture – has gone further. For the past 10 years, it has been buying up and maintaining huge tracts of ash forests in France – over 544 acres since 2011. Ash is one of the main woods used by the company, which now has a supply of timber gathered by French government-approved pruning (rather than large-scale clearing) for its furniture production in Brianza, Italy.
It has taken a while for the environmental policies of many contemporary furniture companies to be considered as dynamic as the designs they produce. This is changing as responsibility, traceability and transparency become new watchwords. Most brands now have sustainability statements on their websites. In Italy, Poliform, Molteni&C, Poltrona Frau and Minotti are examples of those making a real effort. British furniture company SCP has almost entirely stopped using foam filling in its upholstered furniture, opting for more natural materials such as rubberised coconut hair and needled wool.
Problems surrounding the production of fabrics include the toxicity of some dyes (with chemicals sometimes flushed into the local environment during production), the large amount of water required to grow crops such as cotton, and greenhouse gas emissions – not to mention the ethical concerns associated with leather. Speaking of which, performance textiles company Ultrafabrics has developed a range called Ultraleather ‘Volar Bio’. Made from 29 per cent plant-based materials, such as wood pulp and corn by-products, it is designed to look and feel like leather. The array of colours is huge.
Written by David Nicholls.
This article originally appeared on House & Garden UK.