At the Workspace Design Show, Craig joined forces with Tom Lloyd of Pearson Lloyd and Yorgo Lykouria of Rainlight to debate the 'alternative to the alternative' when it comes to material usage.
With their combined knowledge, the panel discussed strategies for creating sustainable, effective, and cost-efficient designs for the workspace. The panel aimed to explore the implications of 'sustainability' for the workspaces of the future, and to provide designers with insight into alternative materials and methods for creating successful, modern workspaces.
The panel discussion highlighted the essential role of designers in creating sustainable product life cycles, pointing towards the implementation of circular systems for material choices, construction, and end of life processes.
There was discussions about how to break the trend of constantly refreshing furniture, the fast fashion of the furniture market.
Ideas for slowing this down included subscription-based plans for contract furniture, as well as fees for disposing of furniture.
The pushback from the industry concerning the financial costs of transitioning to more sustainable practices is understandable. Companies are hesitant to make the switch due to the higher costs associated with eco-friendly materials and production methods.
However, this should not be a deterrent for designers. There are many ways to be conscious of the environment while still taking into account a client's bottom line. Designers can create products with minimal components, focus on shipping flat-packed items, opt for localised manufacturing chains and design for end-of-life processes through ease of disassembly and separability.
As these new materials and methods become more popular, the cost of sustainable options will eventually drop, providing an even greater incentive for companies to commit to making the switch.
As designers, we can make alterations to our procedures, our dialogue with clients, and the implementation of our products to better serve not only the needs of the user but also those of the planet.