RIBA Publishing - Sustainable Interior Design, why I wrote it.

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When I wrote the proposal for Sustainable Interior Design - I was outlining the book that I really wanted to read - but it didn’t exist. A book I felt my industry really needed to support its sustainability path. I was in the  fortunate position to have been approach ed by RIBA Publishing to write a book for the interior design industry and the title was always going to say clearly what it was.

I know there is a strong desire for my fellow designers to work more sustainably - hear it at panel discussions all the time, plus seeing the amount of designers joining the Interior Design Declares pledge (now 300 of us). Within my professional body - the British Institute of Interior Design (a non-profit organisation, owned and governed by its members) we have a healthy number of committee members on the Sustainability Committee where we support our fellow members with practical guidance as well as rewarding the excellent examples in the industry each year with a dedicated Sustainability Award (in memory of committee member Anna Whitehead) in the BIID Awards. 

Interior designers have often very naturally worked sustainably without consciously doing so. Opting for vintage and antique items, Reupholstering furniture. Encouraging better quality things are invested in that will have a longer life. Accurately fulfilling a client brief. Budgets have sometimes meant creatively reusing items or finishes in a space. Sadly none of this is making much of a difference upon the huge negative impact of our industry, Our designs are at the whim of marketing in the form of trends or rebranding - or the pursuit of newness or simply new ownership of a space.  The frequency of a revamp of a space can happen far earlier than its lifespan duration, with a high turnover of materials and effort in the process. Our industry uses such a broad palette of materials including stone, wood, metal, fibres and plastic - which each have impact, are mostly not renewable or circular - and produce carbon dioxide emissions, and involve extraction, drilling, mining, natural resources, water and toxic chemicals. And then there’s the exploitation of people and animals in our supply chains too. The interior designer’s designs and specifications can harm people, planet and animals - OR conversely they can support them to thrive -  what an exciting opportunity to have a positive influence! My own motivation in my work now is to be a voice for the voiceless in our industry - the people, animals and future generations.


I have been a designer for three decades. I know how busy designers are. I also know we are trained to problem solve through the application of design. I also know that Sustainability can seem daunting. I could see Perfection Paralysis happening, and therefore no subsequent action happening at at. It’s impossible to do it all perfectly, so why even try? I could see there was the need for ways into sustainable interior design to be laid out and demonstrated, to show what is possible, for designers (and architects!) to use as project goals. I’ve been very fortunate to have come into sustainability very early in my career. My own journey has been via Vegan Design and the Circular Economy, but I can see we all have different motivations and values that draw us in. So in the book I have explored eleven approaches and have researched  international examples of buildings, spaces and products to demonstrate sustainable interior design beautifully, and inspire us all to work in a better way.  Because the interior design industry plays a huge part in this grim industry statistic - so I hope this book inspires action - and plenty of it, however imperfectly.


Worldwide, the construction industry contributes to 

50% of all climate change,

40% of drinking water pollution, 

23% of air pollution and 

50% of landfill waste.


Fact reference:

RSA, Mykor start up,and%2050%25%20of%20landfill%20waste. 2022, (accessed 18 October 2022). ‘How Can We Improve The Negative Impact Construction Has On The Environment?’, Procure Partnerships Framework,

<> 13 May 2012, (accessed 18 October 2022).