“Waste is a design flaw.” -Kate Krebs
Why does an alarm of lifestyle change always prevail in society? Why should resources be finitely used? Why is the architecture community set on alert to save the environment? Why is there a need to answer these questions?
Table of Contents
We have stepped into the 21st century and we all are aware of having very limited resources, all of us have been taught to use the resources sustainably but we as a human has a behaviour of ignorance and that’s why there is a need for awareness and it should be in “accordance with the environment rather than changing environment in accordance to human .”
Who is an interior designer?
Interior design is an art and science of understanding people’s behaviour, functionalism and lifestyle, then creating, preparing layouts and designing the space in the interiors of buildings according to them. They are involved in the complete process, i.e. from concept development – space planning to execution of concept – handover of the space.
Interior designers have been working for centuries in developing the inside area of a building in making it spacious and functional. Interior designers’ job is crucial as they create the space where a person spends a maximum of time from everyday schedule hence the space should be precisely planned, comfortably adaptable and functionally operational.
Changes in climate
Climate change is not an instant process it’s a gradual process. It has been ongoing since the earth was formed, approximately 4 billion years ago and is defined as a frequent change that stays for a longer time, which affects temperature and weather conditions. Climate change is affected by many factors, it used to have due to natural factors such as solar cycles, but since the 1800s it’s majorly driven by humans who “play with the environment”.
“Climate change is often misunderstood as being about weather changes. In reality, it is about changes in our very way of life.”
Climate change is measured as caused by the emission of greenhouse gases like carbon-di-oxide, methane etc. resulting in worse weather conditions, melting ice caps, increased wildfires (ex. the burning amazon forest), loss of species and occurrence of the so-called natural calamity which is, in turn, the result of human activities. For example, landslides in hilly areas is the consequence of construction done at the contours of hilly areas another example says the flood in the coastal region is the consequence of deforestation (as trees are required in the making of furniture pieces) also the air pollution caused by carbon footprints left behind by transportation, industries like steel pipe and cement emitting harmful gases etc. affecting the climate. And hence it is rightly said,
“Climate change, if unchecked, is an urgent threat to breathing, food, biodiversity and livelihoods across the globe.”
Changing Interior For The Sake Of Climate
As interiors are all about creative decoration, space planning and functionality, but what if we design interiors by keeping the environment first and then the design?
Believe me, a designer not only in interior design but also in architecture would be more functional, feasible and adaptable when made while considering the facts of a poor environment. I firmly say that if every designer and architect should move with the line –
“Not protecting the environment, rather creating the world in such a way where an environment that does not need protection”.
Climatically Adaptable Interior Material
An interior designer when developing the space of living has to take into consideration many factors, it’s the job of a multitasker including budget management, material selection, designing layout, managing clients, furniture and decor etc., but all these never included the word “in consideration with climate”.
Interior and construction involve harm to climate when it comes to transportation of goods and services, deforestation of wood and veneer, steel- cement production industries emitting toxic gases, using elements of material which are non-biodegradable etc. affect climate. Hence, we need to incline ourselves to develop a space which is interior handy and exterior friendly in nature. Choosing materials that work in partnership with the climate is important to finding the sweet spot between aesthetics and functionality.
There will be a list of examples that our ancestors used and presently evolved as lifestyle changes to make an adaptable living without affecting climate.
- If you have ever seen Mughal architecture, you would have noticed that they used marble a lot, not because it is seamless, elegant and magnificent, but also because it kept the interiors cool and peaceful.
- Jali patterns in17th and 18th centuries were like a trend, but there was science behind this trend. The jali pattern allows cross ventilation in interiors and acts as a cooling screen by eliminating hot air and adding cool air. These perforated jalis also prevent interiors from direct sunlight.
- Paint textures on walls are a major element of interior design and it creates the mood of an interior as the wall covers a greater sqft. of vision. Hence paint on walls should be low maintenance and friendly to the environment both interior and exterior. Paint should be less moisture absorbent in desert areas while more moisture absorbent in coastal areas. Gloss or Semi-gloss is best for major areas of the Indian subcontinent as they are more durable, and less moisture absorbent just like acrylic paint which dries faster and does not get cracked, bliss or flake.
- A proper system of HVAC i.e. heat, ventilation and air conditioning are necessary as it reduces the load to maintain HVAC artificially, for example, if we have proper knowledge of the climatology of a particular area then it would be easier to plan the openings in different facade like the sun direction is from east to west through south and wind direction is from north to east that means for good cross ventilation we need window in a north direction which will indeed defend the space from the heated sun.
- Furniture is the most basic necessity in the interior and needs to be exact in its measure of comfort, more comfort will make you lazy and less comfort will make you irritated, the balance is important.
Taking leather tapestried furniture in hot and humid areas or going with wooden flooring in a high moisture zone would be problematic and require high maintenance. Choose wisely, like rattan or bamboo furniture, which are environment and interior friendly. So we all need to turn our ways to sustainable design as,
“ Our approach of sustainable design takes advantage of what is readily available and explores what is practically achievable.”
Sustainable or green interiors are built up by keeping in mind maximum efficiency and functionalism of the interior with minimum damage to the environment, creating a symbiosis relation between the human being and the environment.
Principles of sustainable interior design
Taking proper care or making things worse are both in the hands of humans and that’s why now there is a u-turn towards sustainability just like the ancient times. People are getting close to the environment by developing sustainable spaces. They are pushing the lives back to the ancient living like close to natural things- soil, herbal plants, natural fresh air etc. but as designing is dependent on some principle there are 5 sustainable design principles which should be followed when you and your client have decided to live and nurture in nature.
Design for energy efficiency
Energy consumption is a crucial factor in climate change and heating and lighting are the 2 significant factors in the interior that influence it. It can be reduced by proper planning of opening a. door, windows and ventilation concerning climatology. The addition of curtains, carpets, window blinds and drapes used heated areas and incorporation of double height windows and went Scandinavian in areas with less daylight all to maintain the efficiency of the interior and exteriors.
Colours psychology also plays a crucial role in maintaining energy efficiency as warm colours absorb more light and light colour reflexes that it’s often seen in fewer daylight areas with white, and beige tones and the warm regions with darker shades of brown and warm tones.
Design for low environmental impact
The selection of environment-friendly materials is essential for sustainable design. For example, materials which have less impact on the environment like wood wool, and natural stone but here if we think twice natural stone if extracted irresponsibly can harm the environment. That’s why choosing a material whose extraction process leaves behind less carbon footprint, is economic to purchase and renew quickly ex. fast-growing bamboo. Also, designers and clients should always check labels and standard certifications on products that show it’s eco-friendly.
Design for waste reduction
Here designing plays an important role, designers can use their creative minds and make the design by upcycling the old and discarded material i.e. taking into consideration the 4Rs reduce the waste of material, recycle or upcycle the old material, repurpose the material, refuse the use of non-biodegradable material.
Design for longevity and flexibility
Using materials with a short life span and high maintenance is hazardous to human wealth and surrounding health. The designer and client must consider the material with a good lifespan and low maintenance. Also, as the trends in design change very frequently, the interiors should be flexible to go on with every trend as building a house is not a repetitive process, it’s a varied process which is brought into change every 10 years or longer.
Design for a healthy environment
Interiors are not just based on how it looks but also depend on what environment it’s giving to a person living inside. Using a material which releases harmful toxins can result in bad health conditions with time as people spend most of their time in the interiors. Interiors should be sound with fresh air quality by implanting succulents in interiors , proper HVAC to reduce the amount of ACs, the balanced amount of sunlight and less toxic material like gypsum board in false ceilings which liberate toxic gases, hazardous to health. so interiors should be both “classy in look and healthy to surroundings”.
Materials For Sustainable Interior
In interior design materials, when chosen, wisely keep into consideration affordability, functionality, accessibility and adaptability to make interiors detailed, transformative and exciting interiors. Hence, material choices not only depend on how fascinating it looks but also on how sustainable it is. “Going green” can not only be achieved by the installation of solar panels, conserving water or reducing electricity usage; rather, it should also be achieved by using interior material in furnishing and decor to be sustainable. Here is a list of materials which can bring revolutionary changes to interiors.
Reclaimed, Barn or Weathered Wood
Reclaimed wood is the best option to save trees from unnecessary deforestation. We can refurbish the wood to give it a new look and a new life to the wood.
A material which is most commonly known to be sustainable is the best option for furniture and decor as it is grass, not a tree, and grows faster without much intervention of fertilisers and pesticides to grow.
This green glass is made of glass heated and compressed to make solid glass which can be used in interiors.
The bark is harvested from the bark of the tree and hence is purely sustainable as there is no need to cut down trees. It is as hard as hardwood and can be acceptable in replacement for its being sustainable.
Plastic is a non-decomposable material and henceforth, to protect the environment, we can recycle it. polyethene is a sturdy and durable plastic which can be used in interiors. Also, being in solid colour makes it fade resistant, and processing a material wisely can bring a lot of change to the environment.
An earthy look element, a perfect choice for zen interiors and highly sustainable – heat insulating material is jute fibre. Carpets of this material are low maintenance because of their earthy texture and heat insulation.
This was accepted by people a decade ago, they shifted onto LEDs from incandescent as it consumes 75% less amount of light when compared. Nowadays, the chandelier, pendant light, wall light fissure, and table lamps are made of LED bulbs which are environment and pocket friendly.
So we, the designing community, need to come together to begin this nurturing of an environment for better living in the real senses. Also, a very famous saying is,
“Sustainability is unappealing if it’s always portrayed as something negative, a form of moral self-denial. Rather, we are saying that changing the angle, sustainable cities can be a way of improving the quality of life.”
Adaptive design And Architecture
“There is always a solution hidden in the problem, just a need to find those.” A sustainable interior is a way to approach a safer environment, but what if we develop buildings and interiors that can withstand an ever-changing climate, i.e. called adaptive design, which stays for a longer time without much alteration to changing social, economic and physical surroundings?
Adaptive design and architecture work on the majority of 3 functions.
- Flexibility in spaces
- Convertibility of material
- Expandability for better living over time.
Need To Fight Climate Change By Designing Community
“ If we think money is more important than the environment, try holding
your breath whilst you count your money .”
-Dr. Guy Mcpherson
High time to take care of our very own climate. Reports say that the construction industry is a major industry which leaves behind most of the carbon footprints, approximately 40% of the total. Major carbon footprints are the walk of deforestation, transportation, factory production etc. listed above, but now we need to change this to sustainable and adaptive means like investing in renewable energy, switching to sustainable transportation, afforestation, increasing the use of recycled plastic etc. which will, in turn, make the earth a better place to live long. If we take care of the environment in our every design, it will be a treat to visioner in terms of how it looks and an asset to our future generations in terms of resources. Henceforth,“ use wisely, design nicely” as the resources are limited some, resources can increase with time but with an increase in population, this can only be possible by spreading awareness. Choosing the above-listed sustainable and adaptive interior ways can surely arose awareness and give you a better living. All designers and architects will hail for better living and request clients to go sustainable and adaptable can bring revolutionary change. Designers and architects make up the connection between manufacturers of materials and client purchasing.
It’s not very tough to go sustainable doing small changes in lifestyle, living and construction change a lot in the environment. We can also opt for a sustainable yet earning way to reduce carbon footprint, just like the reliance company. They have equally divided the plot for steel plant and farmland. They grow fruits and vegetables on the farmland and export them to yield money, i.e. balancing carbon footprint and earning money both simultaneously.
“ Vast possibilities of our great future will become realities only if we make ourselves responsible for that future.”