In our latest #FrameLive talk, the heads of Kvadrat, Ex Interiors and Andreu World discussed how designers and manufacturers are navigating the complex world of sustainability – particularly in the midst of the current pandemic.

Our most recent #FrameLive event centred on how companies and designers can make spaces more sustainable while navigating an uncertain future. Frame director Robert Thiemann was joined by panellists Jesús Llinares, CEO of Andreu World; Odette Ex, founder of Ex Interiors; and Anders Byriel, CEO of Kvadrat.

In the midst of the pandemic, it's tempting for the interior industry to focus on economic recovery and put commitments to environmental goals on hold. Consumers, however, believe that companies can ‘build back better’ if they invest in longer-term, sustainable and fair solutions. How can designers and manufacturers respond?

In a recently published roadmap for post-pandemic design by Andreu World, the brand argues that 'products, raw materials and other components will need to comply with the "highest international standards and certifications"' – and that consumers will expect this in the future. Pictured above and in the header is Lines, a new Andreu World collection of mobile divider solutions.

Educate yourself, and others

Ex believes there’s a general lack of knowledge within the industry about the composition of materials. ‘Before you start refurbishing – or taking back waste and making a new product from it – you have to know the composition of the material itself.’ That’s why her studio created an online platform, Inside/Inside, with the Dutch Green Building Council and NIBE, that makes it objectively clear how durable, circular and healthy an interior is. ‘We hope to create an ever-increasing awareness so that designers and producers will make even better circular products.’

 Timeless design is synonymous with sustainability

Andreu World has spent 65 years accumulating knowledge as a furniture manufacturer, and Llinares says his company can ‘make an effort to educate and transmit this knowledge – to explain as much as possible about materials, technologies and possibilities in order to help architects and designers to do a better job. They know a lot – everything about interiors, [architectural] drawings – and we know about processes, and we research our materials.’ Sharing this knowledge is helpful and necessary.

Produce less

‘I think we are lazy and not using our brains enough,’ said Ex, referring particularly to the ‘sensitive mind’. ‘[As] people we are all very sensitive, and I’m sure that it has to do with nature. Growth and prosperity have imprisoned us and made us materially dependant. I wish that we wouldn’t make anything for the [coming] few years and just reuse what we’ve already made.’

A collaboration with designer Margrethe Odgaard, Kvadrat's Re-wool textiles comprise 45 per cent recycled wool, crafted from spills collected from the spinning process. Photos: Courtesy of Kvadrat

What you do make should be worth it

‘Timeless design is synonymous with sustainability,’ said Llinares. ‘We are the other extreme of fashion’, one of the world’s most pollutive industries, ‘because we prioritize the longevity of our designs.’

The only way [to have] future resources is [by becoming] circular. As [businesses], we need to create those circular loops and see waste as a resource

Circularity is key

‘The population is growing so much that we’ll run out of a lot of material,’ said Byriel. ‘The only way [to have] future resources is [by becoming] circular. As [businesses], we need to create those circular loops and see waste as a resource.’ Byriel also said that sustainability used to be more like a service, a job someone had within a company. ‘That’s why often when you meet the CSR [corporate social responsibility] manager at big blue-chip companies they don’t have a lot of power. But what you need to do is move CSR into R&D. Merge [them].’

Andreu World is committed to having its product range circular by 2030, and is promoting reuse through furniture that’s reinserted into the market after being repaired. ‘In the future it could be that we [make fewer] new pieces but re-cover more old pieces.’ The people within in the company have the skill sets to do both, said Llinares.

This panel was organized in partnership with Andreu World. Read about more past and upcoming #FrameLive events here.