Ethical design in practice

The Adelaide Review interviews three leading Adelaide design firms – Enoki, Armadillo&Co and Agostino & Brown – to discover their passion about sustainable practices when it comes to design.

The Adelaide Review interviews three leading Adelaide design firms – Enoki, Armadillo&Co and Agostino & Brown – to discover their passion about sustainable practices when it comes to design.

Enoki Susanna Bilardo – Designer / Director

Can you explain how Enoki uses sustainable practices? Sustainable practices are used throughout our projects as a matter of course. I feel most practices now adopt this philosophy. As they design, they are naturally integrating sustainable methods of manufacture/construction, the selection of sustainable materials, fittings and fixtures. We encourage our clients to embrace the concept of quality over quantity, longevity over throwaway. Has a sustainable and environmentally–friendly ethos always been at the forefront of Enoki’s practice when it comes to products and projects? It has always been an integrated approach. Sustainability, functionality, viability and innovation are all equal parts that make a necessary whole. I feel you cannot have one without the other and they are all equally important in the successful outcome of a project. Today, nearly all designers adopt the environmentally–friendly mantra. The responsibility we have to future generations and end users of our products/projects is paramount. Aside from reclaimed timber, what are some other sustainable materials/methods used in your products? With a local manufacturer we have developed a new recycled plastic connector, which is used to connect the timber elements within our lights. Wherever possible, we adopt flat–packing principles in our designs. It makes the product much easier to ship and, in turn, it reduces the amount of packaging that is required. We design and manufacture all of our pieces here in South Australia with the assistance of a many wonderfully talented local trades and crafts people. Away from products — and working with clients on projects and fit outs — do the clients have to share your thinking when it comes to sustainable design? Many clients have a strong sustainable ethos. When this is the case, it is generally the main driver of the project, therefore it is the underlining principle of everything that goes into and comes out of the project. It sits across material selections, to construction methods, to heating and cooling sources through to the aesthetic outcome of the project. When the client is less aware of sustainable design, it still occurs fundamentally, as it is what underpins most design projects. It occurs by osmosis, as designers will make responsible choices and decisions.

Agostino & Brown

Samantha Agostino and Gareth Brown – Owners and Designers Aside from being handmade, can you explain how all your furniture is manufactured in an environmentally friendly way? We specify timber that is reclaimed or sourced from ethically managed forests in Australia or overseas. We use water–based glues, which are non–toxic, and all of the timber waste from manufacturing, either wood chips or off–cuts, are recycled. We support other local businesses for specific component manufacturing, as well as focusing on selling our products locally to reduce any carbon footprint. Has a sustainable ethos always been at the forefront of A&B’s practice when it comes to products and projects? We believe strongly in adhering to sustainable practices at each stage of the design and manufacture process. The wood we use is carefully considered, and we source from a FSC Certified supplier. Our furniture is also built to last and it can be repaired and re–finished thought its lifetime, which give it longevity. With our projects, we like to work with other like–minded designers who have a strong consideration for local design, sustainable ethics and positive business practices. Is there a still a way to go for the wider design industry to embrace sustainable and green thinking? Or is the industry on the right track? We believe sustainability has been embraced by the industry but we think the general public needs to be more educated around sustainable practices and the design industry as a whole, as they are the ones driving the demand of products. If we are buying locally manufactured products, and we are supporting businesses that specialise in quality craftsmanship, then we are helping grow an industry that can be sustainable.

Armadillo&Co Sally Pottharst – Co-Owner/Designer

Each Armadillo&Co piece embraces Fair Trade practices. Can you explain briefly how this works in regards to creating your rugs? Our role in embracing Fair Trade practices and helping our artisans’ villages in India is vitally important. Every rug we make follows Fair Trade practices, is crafted from sustainable natural fibres including pure wool, jute, cotton and hemp, and all purchases benefit local schools in our weavers’ villages. Jodie Fried and I believe in supporting Fair Trade to help developing countries, such as India, to achieve better trading conditions and to promote sustainability within the communities we work with. We do this by advocating greater equality in our international trading partnerships through dialogue, transparency and respect. Prior to Armadillo&Co, Jodie started a company called Bholu in India, which empowered women to create, sell and trade their beautiful textiles to give back to their communities. Bholu was based on a Fair Trade system, which is where the importance of Fair Trade practice for Armadillo&Co really began. Fair Trade working conditions are really important to us and we simply would not work any other way. You aim for your rugs to lie lightly on this earth. What made you decide to use Indian artisans when you started Armadillo&Co? I had a background in rugs and was successfully making customised rugs from India for clients of my existing business Terrace Floors & Furnishings. I met Jodie and encouraged her to join my rug journey. The time felt right to challenge ourselves to get something significant happening from India, where the skillset for the product we were interested in making was. We really wanted to combine aesthetics and ethics with a clear focus on social responsibility and giving back to community. We found there was a real lack of simple, classic, handmade and fine–quality rugs for our homes so what we couldn’t find we decided to make with the incredible artisans of India. The weavers are very much our collaborators and we work closely with them developing new products and maintaining the production of existing ones. Small weaving communities make all our rugs by hand, in rural villages. It is our passion to not only value this skill, but also to keep it alive and handed down to the generations that follow. We travel every year to India and spend time with our artisans to create new products. We find that we create the best when we are there and working together with them. It is also important for us to connect with our weavers, the community and their families. It is only then we can really see what is needed and how we can help. Is there still a way to go for the wider design industry to embrace sustainable and green thinking? Or is the industry on the right track? There is no doubt that there has been an incredible shift in the industry to sustainable and green thinking in recent times. To our advantage there have also been significant instigators and players in the design world who have promoted natural and sustainable as desirable, which has been incredible to see. To this end I feel the industry is on the right track. Since our rugs are handmade, we have a responsibility to ensure they are specified responsibly, which we feel they have been. We are so thrilled with the response we are receiving to a product we are so proud to be making.

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