What Is Vegan Design?

January, a time to pause, reflect and re-think things.  You may have been participating in Veganuary, changing the way you live in all aspects of your life.  So, what is animal friendly when it comes to designing spaces within your home and places of work?  I like to refer to vegan design as animal friendly design.  This is due to the word vegan may be construed by some as too harsh, having a negative effect on those who may want to create humane interiors but do not want to become vegans.

Animal friendly design can be defined as designing in a way, which is not at the detriment of any other living species.  As Connections by Finsa cites, animal friendly design is, ‘any element that we use in interior design must not damage or torture animals nor contain any harmful product’s’.  Therefore, the inclusion of products, which have not been tested or contain any animal products.  Living in harmony with everything that surrounds us.  

The availability of animal friendly materials for the interior design industry is growing, replacing traditional products such as those used in paints and fabrics.  For instance, leather that is made from plant-based alternatives such as pineapple, mushroom and cork and paints that are not tested on animals.  Society is adapting, more people want to create animal friendly living and working spaces.  Homes, which connect with your inner-self, creating environments, which are grounding and exude positive vibes.  Offering solitude, peace and emotional positivity, whilst rejuvenating you physically.

Identifying animal-friendly products by looking at product labels is not always enough because somematerials may not be listed on the packaging.  If an item included to make a product is below a minimum amount specified by Regulation, the manufacturer may be exempt from including the substance on the label of the finished item.   This may vary from country to country but is likely to be pretty consistent across the European Community.  Therefore, if in doubt contact the manufacturer directly.   Another method of addressing this is to consider the lifecycle of a product. 

 The life cycle of a product involves you identifying the following: the raw materials extracted to create it; the manufacturing processes used in creating it; transportation and the products end of life, (can it be reused or recycled).  All this information should be available from the manufacturer.   You could also look at a company’s policies on its commitment to protecting the planet and all living species.  However, be aware of greenwashing.

This refers to companies who advertise their products or services as being natural, green or organic, saving the planet, but on closer analysis, are not.  Therefore, greenwashing can be defined as any company who markets their product as organic or eco-friendly, but the materials used within the manufacturing process can actually be harmful, containing toxic chemicals.  Therefore, having a detrimental effect on the environment and all living species.

Society’s increased awareness of animal friendly design and a growing need for humane products is influencing how designers and manufacturers  think, design and produce products.   Animal friendly interiors may be seen by some as boring due to how they may view animal friendly products.  However, this couldn’t be further away from the truth.  You can create an array of luxury design styles using animal friendly products.  However, when creating sustainable and animal friendly designs, do not just presume that all animal friendly products are sustainable.  As above, always check how and what the product is made from.  

The inclusion of animal friendly materials and identifying the life cycle of all products proposed for a design project, will reduce the effects that the design industry has on the environment whilst promoting a cruelty free culture.  Therefore, sourcing wisely and designing for life  will create healthy and humane spaces.  However, it is noted that there may be resistance by some companies to change from traditional methods to more humane and chemical free due to the fear of increased costs in the manufacturing processes.  However, with veganism continuing to grow, influencing what people buy, and the need for sustainable design to protect the environment, this  mindset is growing. 

Have fun designing great spaces

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