The Circular Economy in Interior Design

Beautiful interiors don't have to come at a cost to the environment
Kim Kemp

Kim Kemp

Interior Designer

Most furnishings and interior design products till recently belong to a Linear economy – take, make, dispose. If we adopted a circular economy approach, the disposal phase is substituted with a variety of different  and sustainable  options, including reusing, refurbishing and recycling. This requires a radical mindset shift.

“What happens when your product comes to the end of its use period? Can your product have many use periods? Can you design for the future, design for recovery, to deliver even more value in the future?”

But what does it mean to design for the circular economy?
Well, circular design develops around 3 pillars:

  1. Design out waste and pollution
  2. Keep products and materials in use
  3. Regenerate natural systems

Source sustainably grown materials (FSC certified wood, organic cotton…)
To give an example, IKEA has committed to a sustainable policy for cotton, which consists on either using recycled cotton, or sourcing it from areas where it’s grown sustainably.

Circular design focuses on making objects that can easily be altered, repaired or remanufactured. These products are easy to disassemble, so that materials can be reused over and over again, rather than always sourcing virgin materials.

The Rug Establishment has a Vida range of outdoor rugs hand woven from PET – a polyester fibre made from recycled plastic bottles that feels like wool.


The Ellen MacArthur Foundation (pioneer of circular economy) has called on designers and architects to join the circular design challenge and “re-design the world”.

Imagine if there were three possible options for furnishing your office or home in a circular economy:

  • New: brand new furniture that can be leased for a monthly fee or bought with the option of a buy-back program.
  • Remade: good-as-new furniture that is assembled using a combination of new, reused and repaired parts.
  • Refreshed: furniture can be returned to the company for a makeover. And after being refurbished and/or repaired, it goes back to its owner.

To know more about sustainable & circular interior design, visit:  SforSustainable

All of the above pieces were part of an upcycling collection by artist and visionary Wendy Castleden for Margaret River Region Open Studios 2014.

Gumtree, Facebook Marketplace and many second hand and charity shops are perfect places to scrounge and source pieces for re-purposing as part of the push towards a more circular economy. One man’s trash becomes another man’s treasure.

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