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From the Industry: Designing, Crafting, Constructing a Better Future

June 3, 2022

In collaboration with Parla, I have embarked on a year long journey of learning and understanding more about ‘sustainability’ in the furniture business. This overarching  heading overs many aspects, and more and more has become the buzzword du jour.

But what does it mean on a practical level, what are the leaders in the industry doing with it, and what does it mean for  companies that want to adopt elements, and use their business as a force for good.

When you look up sustainability, more often than not it comes up as a notion that covers 3 areas: social, economic and environmental, and the strong suggestion is that all 3 areas are taken care of equally.

Having spent the last 20 years or so in delivering projects that develop sustainability in the areas of society and economy, on a very micro and local level, I am excited to take a more bird’s eye view of sustainability, see how all 3 areas can work more in tandem, observe and learn from the pioneers who are achieving this, and then guide my clients into a new realm so
that they too can become catalysts for change…

I decided to start my journey with Clerkenwell Design Week’s 13th edition; being bereft of inspiring interiors trade shows for the last 2,5 years, I was not only very elated to be able to quench my thirst for visually stimulating exhibits, but also very pleased to see how much was dedicated to the subject matter of sustainability.

It is clear to see that the term sustainability is not a greenwash anymore, and has become embedded in some of the leaders of the industry. This really is encouraging, and gives me hope for others who will follow. Brands such as Benchmark, Habbio, and Another Country really stood out to me with their activities and their messages, and other brands are clearly
trying hard to make changes and adapt their model to becoming ‘cleaner’ in their approach.

Trends come and go, but this one is not a passing one!

Putting aside the affect the pandemic has had on companies’ turnovers, I feel that the personal affect it has had on the leaders of these companies, is helping and will help the sustainability agenda to come to the forefront of companies they lead quicker. Attention to society’s needs on a personal and wider community level, restoring economic prosperity locally and nationally and respect for the environment are areas we are all more ready to take seriously now.

CDW showcased to me how the sustainability agenda has helped companies connect with their core values, and become more humane on a micro level. It is still difficult, I am sure, for many to figure out how to change business practices that are engrained, but with the strong role models that are out there, companies, designers and crafts people can all see how they
can take practical steps towards change.

Globalisation has brought us together in many aspects, but in manufacturing it has not had great side effects; however now, I believe we can come together to learn from the bigger brands and then implement their best practice in sustainability on local and national levels. This can and should become a matter of pride and identity. Afterall, don’t we want to all leave
a less damaged world behind us…


Jade Ilke
in collaboration with Parla