Interiors can be more sustainable, says British Design Studio founder
Clients’ design and function needs are always at the forefront of interior designer Simone Suss’ work, as is protecting the environment through sustainable practices.
Mrs. Suss, 46, founded her LondonNew York-based design studio, Studio Suss, in 2013, and although sustainability has always been a concern for her, a sustainability leadership course she took during lockdown led her to learn more about using companies to initiate change.
As a member of the British Institute of Interior Design’s Professional Practice Committee, Ms Suss worked with other members to create a guide on how UK designers can be more sustainable and minimize their carbon footprint.
While interior designers can start to be more environmentally conscious simply by being more aware of how project waste is disposed of, Ms. Suss also uses sustainable products in her clients’ homes wherever possible. possible, such as wood and wallpaper from responsibly managed forests, without ever sacrificing luxury, style or quality.
Along with how she has implemented sustainable methods in her business, Ms. Suss also shared her favorite design elements and where she finds inspiration.
Mansion Global: What does it mean to be sustainable in interior design?
Simone Sus: It’s tricky because to be sustainable you basically have to stop consuming, so consumption is the enemy of sustainability. So being sustainable while trying to sell and craft stuff is pretty tricky. It’s about making conscious decisions. When we rip stuff off at the start of a project, what do we do with that trash? When we buy new things for our customers, how do we do it in a way that actually promotes sustainability? The construction industry is responsible for 40% of global carbon dioxide emissions, so it is a very polluting industry. So how do you work in this industry without making the situation worse?
MG: Why is sustainability so important to you and your work?
SS: I’ve always had a genuine love of nature, and in the background of that there’s always been the conversation about climate change. Throughout my life, I can now see the effects of climate change. It’s something that’s always been talked about as if it’s something far in the future, but it’s actually happening right now. I’m part of the generation that kind of grew up not caring what we bought, and I feel like we’re now the last generation that can actually do anything about climate change because if we let someone else do it, then it’s going to be too late.
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MG: Are there any sustainable design trends or techniques that are on the rise right now?
SS: There is a real trend for biophilic design and the benefits people experience from bringing nature indoors. It’s something people have really experienced during lockdown, even something as simple as having a plant. Hopefully, this will become a new way of being as people care more about their insides.
MG: Are your options limited by focusing on more responsibly produced products and materials?
SS: Particularly with luxury interiors, sometimes the sustainable option can be even better. For example, we just worked with a client to incorporate beautiful new custom rugs into their home. The lady who makes them makes them out of silk and bamboo, but she also makes them out of recycled plastic with sustainability in mind. The recycled plastic ones look and feel exactly the same, but they’re actually even stronger and can be cleaned more easily. They don’t compromise on looks, and it’s actually even better functionally for their home.
MG: In your own life, how do you practice sustainability?
SS: It’s tricky because I love to travel, so I really struggle with that, but I also appreciate that I know my travel dollars help support communities, so I try to travel from the the most sustainable way possible. In my house, I recycle as much as possible and really try to minimize waste. I drive an electric car. I run my house on renewable energy. I just try to live consciously and with every buying decision I make, whether for myself or for my clients, I try to find out if there is a sustainable way to do it. I try to practice what I preach, even if sometimes I fall through the gaps.
MG: How do you define your design style?
SS: Our design style is luxurious and timeless and also a little fun. We are certainly not one size fits all, all of our designs are completely bespoke. But really, it’s about being timeless. Our customers do not have their interiors changed every year or two. It’s also a good sustainable angle to be timeless.
MG: What are some of your favorite design elements that are timeless?
SS: One of the things we specify a lot is the Saarinen tulip table. It’s a marble table and it’s a mid-century piece. It’s a timeless piece that you can simply swap out different chairs in different environments, and they hit the spot every time. This is probably one of my favorite design pieces.
MG: Functionality is also a big part of your designs. What are some of your favorite ways to incorporate design elements that are also functional in the home?
SS: It’s always about discovering how the client wants to live. Something I will do often which is very functional is in the bathrooms I always put very small lights on a low level near the toilet so when you walk into the room they are on a motion sensor and you get a very dim light right next to the toilet where you need it. Another functional thing that I always advise my clients to do, if possible, is to have two dishwashers.
MG: Where do you find inspiration?
SS: Absolutely everywhere, just walking around. I love to travel, so I’m really inspired when I travel anywhere. Fashion too. I used to go to Fashion Week a lot, but I also like to follow all the fashion houses on Instagram. I find art really inspiring, going to museums and art galleries. I sometimes get it from my kids. I could look at one of their art projects and see that the colors go together perfectly. I am always like a beacon looking for inspiration but without actively seeking it.
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MG: How do you hope the design industry as a whole will move towards more sustainability?
SS: I really hope everyone takes responsibility for their own business. I often see this from designers here in the UK, thinking it’s someone else’s problem. I think if every designer started to be more aware, it would really make a difference. As designers we are responsible for so many hundreds of thousands if not millions of pounds of our clients budget. If we can direct that budget to companies that we know are supporting sustainable causes, then we’re voting with our dollars and funneling business to companies that are doing better for the world and for sustainability.
MG: In your own words, how do you define luxury?
SS: I think it’s a real luxury to be grateful and really appreciate something. So for something to be luxury, I think it appeals to all the senses and it feels good when you look at it, touch it or smell it.
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