In an ideal world, and with an energy crisis biting at our heels, our homes would be solely made from sustainable materials, have solar powered panelling, upcycled building features plus heating and insulation that meant our homes were as green as grass.
But with the cost-of-living crisis upon us, most of us seriously lack the budget to make substantial eco-friendly changes to our living spaces. All the while, sustainability (and now affordability) remains top of the agenda with today’s home and interiors shoppers, and brands are having to become educators and well as inventors in order to remain relevant.
In an age of uncertainty the future for brands is set to be connection, conservation and creation, whereby consumers feel part of a community striving for better. Trend Bible’s Wendy Lowe recently reported at retail event Autumn Fair 2022 millenials and Gen-Z’s are part of a radical reform society, whereby brands are being held accountable for sustainability and diversity efforts. With this, the world has shifted towards ‘slow-living’, ‘skinclusivity’ and ‘circular thinking’ – terms which are starting to make their way into our everyday lives.
The event – which marks itself as the beginning of the new year buying season – proved the eco-conscious home and gift market is here to stay with bee saving initiatives, plantable books, and grow your own produce to be admired. Functionality and durability are now the main drivers in design, with a key focus on biodegradable materials and gender-neutral approaches.
Form and Function
With consumers now needing their homes to perfectly embody both their personal and professional lives, modular furniture is a growing concept that even accessories are extending to. Our homes must be interchangeable and functional, meaning the furniture we utilise should be able to mould to the shape and style of the spaces we live in.
Whether it is curved or block furniture that creates shaped seating areas, or even a dining table that can neatly compact into a workable desk set up. Designers are taking modular into the future, thinking about how living spaces can become interchangeable study areas for working from home, or creating stackable seasoning containers that create effective art-pieces in kitchens – there really is something mesmerising about it all.
The benefits are huge, from not having to re-buy furniture, but instead simply reutilise it in another way, dimensionally it can be personalised to your own living needs and can continue to move with trends, all without costing you more money.
Repair vs replace
Conservation of materials is growing even more traction with the need for furnishing to stand the test of time, whether that is for re-purpose or re-sale. We’ve all seen the online saturation of DIY upcycling furniture trends only enhanced by the pandemic. But now, designers are refining this down to the manufacturing of new finishings. The idea is that repairing and restoring can come as simply as modifying the brackets on a door or interchanging the feet on a coffee table. Furnishings should stand the test of time so easy fixing is paramount – this is a trend that has come from the ‘make do and mend’ mentality of many second-hand and vintage fashion enthusiasts, not to mention is a more affordable approach to home design.
Slow Living is the idea that people slow-down and take time for themselves and their own wellbeing, whether that be by visiting green spaces or engaging with their communities.
With living price hikes, the ‘grow your own’ craze has formed and consumers are looking more than ever to brands to be educators. In this sense, products have come to light that champion building resilient food systems, create home activities that cost less money for families and get people connecting.
Bringing the outside-in is an evergreen trend that was sparked by many people having experienced less access to green spaces. Paying homage to Japanese traditions, Tranquil Plants is a specialist supplier of the bonsai tree art form called Kokedama, where the plants are rooted in soil, wrapped in a layer of natural moss or coconut fibre and bound with thread.
You can decorate your home or workplace with these bonsais, fresh air plants, hydro-herbs planted in recycled wine bottles and Zen garden slates. The company says the plants offer an efficient approach to purifying the surrounding air – a natural medicine to the busyness of life it would seem.
Conservation and Community
With eco-living and new home standards coming into force, homeowners are looking towards the brand they buy from when it comes to giving back to less fortunate communities as well as forging communities themselves with likeminded individuals. Many brands are taking this one step further and actually making their products part of this community education.
Willsow has generated a collection of plantable children’s books which are made with special handmade paper embedded with real vegetable and herb seeds. Instead of recycling the book, you can plant it in a pot of soil – and the main character will grow from the paper. It’s the first of its kind and one of our favourite concepts to involve your children in eco-projects at home.
Another company with a ‘giving back’ concept was Good Living, a female-owned European distributor with homeware, skincare and confectionery products to its name. The distributor only sources stand-out brands that give back to the environment and their communities.
One of these companies is Haan, a personal care brand that focuses on natural ingredients. From hand sanitisers and body lotions to toothpaste and deodorant, Haan offers refillable options on all its products to reduce plastic by up to 89%. It also gives 20% of its profits to fund water wells in developing countries – a great example of an eco-conscious company with strong corporate social responsibility.
The Leicester-based firm adopts a range of eco-friendly practices such as only using biodegradable packing fillers for posting products, giving leftover moss to local gardens or to be composted as well as harvesting rainwater to treat the plants.
There has been an emotional acceleration following on from the pandemic, with consumers being forced to ‘feel’ everyday whether that’s been due to dramatic news cycle, politicised social media feeds or a climate and cost-of-living crisis, the speed in which things are changing has been hard to keep up with.
Renewed appreciation for this slower life has enabled a resurgence in optimism which will translate into the colour schemes, textures and furnishing of our homes. Earthy neutrals including browns, greens and stone will continue into 2023 for tranquil wall schemes, but these will be broken by the use of collaged shapes, textures and pops of colour throughout accessories, storage and lighting that will bring joy to its viewers.
It’s clear that many retailers and suppliers have already given their products an ecological makeover or begun to make changes to their supply chain to ensure a more circular approach.
So, if you are an interiors company looking to bring purpose to your products, then don’t stand still. As TrendBible’s homes and interiors editor Wendy Lowe said: “If brands aren’t looking at sustainability by 2023, then they will be deemed as complicit.”