We are increasingly asking ourselves where our products are produced and what ecological footprint we leave behind with their purchase. The coronavirus pandemic has further increased awareness of the scarcity of natural resources. We switch to lesser-known brands if we find them more sustainable and build an emotional bond with them. In the second article of our three-part series on Interior Trends 2021 we present “Ecology 2.0”.
Much more than a trend, Ecology 2.0 is an ethical model. Demand for a sustainable economy and environmentally conscious lifestyles are leading to a historical change in values. Generation Y is not alone in increasingly asking about manufacturing processes, supply chains and materials.
“Less but better” as a guiding theme
The question of sustainable action is moving our society with growing urgency. But how much responsibility is actually possible for the individual? Lutz Dietzold, Chief Executive Officer of the German Design Council gives an answer:
Lutz Dietzold: “When it comes to buying furniture, there has so far been a lack of binding standards that can provide orientation for customers and industry alike. The much-quoted motto of designer Dieter Rams ‘Less but better’ is therefore the best guiding principle not only for designers but also for consumers: the most sustainable product or piece of furniture is still the one with which we ourselves can identify for years and, in the best case, can profitably hand it over to subsequent generations or in the secondary market in a further life cycle. For this, we will usually have to save a little longer and therefore opt for less for more, which in the end benefits our own ecological footprint.
Beyond the universals of good design, we as an association of the design-oriented industry, which has been promoting innovation in design since 1953, observe that the call for sustainable solutions has developed an exciting innovation dynamic in recent years. Whether it’s algae as a material, recycled materials or circular economy processes, designers are looking for new ways to overtake in the distance race to zero carbon neutrality in cultural and material production.”
“Greenwashing is over”
Tristan Horx is a trend researcher. From the perspective of youth, he combines social and cultural anthropology and his personal expertise in futurology. He has clear words on the demands on future-oriented products:
Tristan Horx: “Greenwashing is over – in future we want to know everything about production conditions, supply chains and materials! Designers are already experimenting with renewable plant fibres or recycled plastics. More and more companies are focusing on sustainability in production and using recyclable alternatives instead of non-degradable materials. Even though impulses often come from the younger generation, the desire for sustainability is not a generational issue; after all, the state of our planet affects all age groups.”
In the past, furnishings and wardrobes had to be replaced regularly to keep up with the latest trends, but now our furniture should be more durable and preferably sustainable. But how can you tell that a manufacturer uses sustainable materials and is also resource-oriented in its production processes? Until a valid eco-label has established itself in the furniture industry, the only thing that helps is to look closely. Or: browse through the eco categories of design awards.
The ICONIC AWARDS: Innovative Interior annually honour outstandingly designed products in the interior design industry and communicate the industry’s quality and trends. The following submissions are exemplary for the New Simplicity trend:
Interior Trends Ecology 2.0., Living Multispaces, New Simplicity
Texts and images of this article are partly taken from the ICONIC Design Special 2021 “Interiors, Innovation, Inspiration” (in German), published as an insert in the January issue of FAZ magazine.
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