With the world at our fingertips, impulse buying is growing. Along with variety and accessibility, however, comes the need to make responsible choices. First, the act of purchasing itself has to be challenged. Before making any decision, asking ourselves if we really need a new product and how it will add value to our life is key. The next step consists of finding what are referred to as sustainable goods. Here, we look at brands that are going the extra mile to offer sustainability and luxury.
For Rula Yaghmour, who stands at the helm of Jordan-based architecture firm Kutleh, “sustainability is an inevitable concept that should be tackled in our everyday practices and not just in design.” One of the major pressing issues of environmental concern is the amount of waste produced. The idea of Kutleh was born in the wasteland of a stones fabrication factory. “Being a practicing architect, I’m also guilty of specifying this natural material to clad our buildings and designs, a common construction method in our region; and add to that the piles of waste produced through the process. Hence, Kutleh (which means “block” or “mass” in Arabic) repurposes the surplus produced from cladding tiles used in everyday construction projects and attempts to create blocks out of the discarded.” The result has been translated into a chair – a prototype for which was launched at Amman Design Week – lamps, vases, raw blocks, and tiles.
On the other side of the world, Brazilian designers Humberto and Fernando Campana agree that “sustainable design begins with the choice of materials that are in tune with current times and have minimal impact on the environment and production chain.” They also consider the human aspect of sustainability: self-esteem, rescuing craftsmanship techniques, creative thinking, and collaboration, adding that all these factors contribute to a stronger, circular economy. Pioneers in this field, the internationally acclaimed brothers started to work with ordinary materials in 1989, out of “sheer necessity,” giving them a second life. “We didn’t have any connections with industrial production processes, so we used what we had at hand,” they share. Two of their recent pieces include the TransPlastic chair made with traditional wicker weaving techniques and existing plastic products; and the Detonado buffet, which stitches together straw linings from discarded furniture with traditional threading techniques that are in danger of vanishing.
A European brand addressing the questions of resource management and reuse is Danish company Kvadrat. Exemplifying how eco-conscious design can coexist with high style and comfort, it offers high-quality textiles made from recycled PET bottles, recycled wool, or a special coating without PFC (perfluorinated compound), among other creative materials.
By reducing transportation needs, buying local is also at the top of the list to lessen environmental impact. In the Middle East, leading the way in terms of handmade, ethically sourced, and green products, is furniture and design company Tribe. “We pride ourselves in knowing exactly the journey our products have made to reach us and who we are impacting with our choices,” says founder and designer Jo England. “I curate all our collections. The brands and suppliers we choose to work with ethically align to our ethos, so we make sure we stand for what we believe in through every aspect of the business.”
Home and Soul
Carol Sukkar, founder of Dubai-based Home and Soul, started to work with eco-friendly and recycled materials at the end of 2017. “I realized I could bring a sustainable element to everyone’s home by providing UAE residents with these types of furniture pieces,” she says. The new Palma chairs and Cadiz bar stools are made from natural wood and rattan while the rugs available at Home and Soul are hand-woven with wool and mostly recycled materials.
Far from just a trend, sustainable design epitomises a lifestyle, which translates into a different state of mind. Starting with furniture design but also going beyond to architecture and travel, sustainability is transforming how we think about the world. Today more than ever, sustainable chic is the new luxury.
Originally published in the November 2020 Issue of Vogue Arabia Living