Interior design

Vegan Interior Design Week marks a step forward for animal-friendly design

The vegan lifestyle is most often associated with food, cosmetics, and fashion, much less with interior design. While consumer decisions about what to eat and what to wear are made on a daily basis, decorating is rarer and easy to overlook as a vegan opportunity, but that doesn’t mean a growing community of architects interior and their customers are not. t striving to bring vegan principles to the domestic industry.

The first annual Vegan Interior Design Week took place virtually last week from November 1-5, as nearly 400 interior designers, specifiers, manufacturers, suppliers, retailers and real estate developers came together to discuss the future of conscious design and ethical housewares. The lineup included 30 experts on panels covering topics such as vegan materials and finishes, biophilia, conscious home design, building biology and practical advice on marketing, public relations and values ​​communication. vegans to potential customers.

Interior designer based in Sydney, Australia Aline durr began to formulate the idea of ​​an event to bring the vegan design community together while researching for his book, Vegan interior design, which was released in September 2020. In March 2021, she began planning the conference to bring together the most distant specialists in the field and eventually brought together speakers from the United States, Australia, South Africa , Greece and Canada.

“I wanted vegan interior design professionals around the world to know that they are not alone,” says Dürr. “We all have the same end goal – an end to animal exploitation and a more sustainable, healthier environment for everyone – and so we love to see each other’s businesses prosper and grow. “

For loudspeaker Risha Walden, senior designer and owner of New Jersey-based company Walden Interiors, it was an eye opener to finally be one of the like-minded design professionals after practicing for several years as the only vegan designer in his area. The initial decision to focus her work on vegan principles, she says, began as a natural growth in her personal choices to follow a vegan diet.

“I quickly realized that even though I chose not to eat animals for moral reasons, I was selling them and making money with them, because the interior decoration is full of animal products,” explains Walden. “I wanted to align my personal choices with my business principles. “

The ways in which animal products are incorporated into design go beyond the well-known example of the leather sofa, Walden explains: Customers and designers often don’t think too much about the fact that down (which l (found in upholstery, pillows and furniture) comes from the soft feathers of a duck or goose. Even less obvious: the fact that skin glue (used to build furniture) comes from the skin of an animal. Walden doesn’t blame anyone for not knowing, especially in the case of consumer goods and big box stores – and she readily acknowledges that the long chain between buyer and manufacturer often makes it difficult to determine whether products of animal origin have been used along the way in any given product. Instead, she found it was safer to source from local businesses or small businesses that were transparent about their operations. Creating a forum to share these products and resources, says Dürr, was another key objective in planning the conference.

Designer and event speaker in Los Angeles Sarah barnardThe vegan design process often takes on a much broader scope than just the ethical purchase of a project. With a background in sustainability and historic preservation, Barnard considers the two principles to go hand in hand. If during a renovation, for example, contractors want to cut down a tree to bring in a crane to lift a bathtub through a window, it is there to advocate for the preservation of the surrounding landscape and the local wildlife to obtain the same result.

“A fundamental step is to think about how these improvements we want to make in our lives could impact the environment locally and globally,” says Barnard. “When people think about our impacts on the environment, we often think of energy and fossil fuels.[but] in a much more local way, we can think of really simple ideas. If we are renovating a house, are we going to disrupt the plant life and objects that surround the building that are likely home to insects, birds, mammals of all kinds? Do no harm is the first step.

Practicing in the LA area, Barnard had no shortage of a community of vegan clients and designers, and instead joined the event to continue his journey by educating others about conscious design. In doing so, its guiding principle is to meet other people where they are in terms of vegan design knowledge, which sometimes means accepting clients who are not vegans and introducing sustainable concepts on a small scale. (Since posting a transcript of her Vegan Design Week talk on her blog, she’s already had several of her own clients to find out more, including one who isn’t vegan.)

Operating on the same idea, Walden began to notice a shift in customer reactions to his vegan-centric design practices in recent years, and in public opinion on the term in general. Whereas before, the word ‘vegan’ seemed to conjure up connotations of ‘crunchy, granola’, she says, she thinks it’s become less taboo, so much so that she has adjusted her brand this year to end. prominent in the name of his company. and messaging.

With growing public interest in vegan practices and an already growing speaker waiting list for a future event, Dürr says Vegan Interior Design Week will likely make a comeback next year. As for this year, the creator claims that the first annual edition has already served its purpose and more.

The event was designed to create and nurture new existing relationships across the international ethical and sustainable interior design industry, and to encourage education and change within the non-design community. vegan, ”Dürr said. “My hopes were for professionals in our niche to collaborate and communicate with each other in the future, and my hopes were definitely exceeded. “

Front page image: Courtesy of Vegan Interior Design Week