There’s something very tactile and rewarding about a beautifully handcrafted and ethically produced artefact, one that can continue its story and rich life within the four walls of your home. But, convincing consumers to invest in sustainably made homewares is no mean feat – cheap and fast turnaround outlets make it easy and convenient to shop throwaway products.
Fortunately, it seems that people are starting to think about the true impact of their shopping habits more and more at the moment though. While the homewares e-commerce sphere has been dramatically boosted throughout the last year, green consumerism has also taken centre stage. In fact, increasing demand for eco-friendly buildings across the globe is generating demand for eco-friendly furniture too and, according to a recent report globally we are seeing a ‘rising prominence towards sustainability as a prevalent trend in home design.’
This is a brilliant development, particularly considering the fact that the fast-moving interiors market has been falling behind in sustainability progression. Poorly made homewares products cause a huge amount of landfill waste year on year, so pivoting to focus on ethically produced and well made (with longevity in mind) pieces is a great step forward.
So, where are the best places to source such pieces? Here are some of the most inspiring and beautiful homeware brands out there right now.
Based in Bristol, a city known for its eco ways and proud ethically minded movements, Konk Furniture is a solid start for anyone looking at refurnishing their home in an environmentally friendly manner. Architecture graduate Alex Ratcliffe, who had a passion for making things that last, founded the multidisciplinary design studio and workshop.
So I might be marginally biased, as a Bristol-dweller myself, but it’s clear that Alex set out with a grounded and inspiring want to better the options out there for sustainable furniture and what he’s created is pretty incredible. Now, you’ll find the pieces gracing the pages of some of the best design and interiors magazines and recommended by institutions such as Dezeen.
Only using timber from approved sustainable forests, as a company they have evolved with Alex’s ethos and vision and don’t believe in a throwaway culture. Their furniture is made for life – it’s solid, hardwearing and ages with character. What’s more, every single piece is made-to-order to ensure that absolutely nothing goes to waste too. They also work in partnership with One Tree Planted, and donate to plant a tree for every single order they receive.
The Dharma Door is an incredible brand on a mission to make a difference through design. By working with fair trade artisans around the world, they create stunning natural homewares and accessories and support communities in need. From stunning wall hangings to smart storage baskets, each item is made by hand – from start to finish – amongst the bustle of rural village life.
Rooted in real people’s stories, the brand was founded by Shannon Sheedy after spending a year travelling in India and Nepal and witnessing the plight of Tibetan refugees. Today, the brand seeks out the highest grade of natural fibres available and pairs them with artisan skills found in various regions to create original, quality pieces that are a joy to live with.
This stunning brand had to make the list. Aerende is an online store showcasing ethically produced items for your home, whereby people facing social challenges and whom struggle to access conventional employment make each limited edition item.
Emily Mathieson, a former travel editor for The Guardian, Condé Nast Traveller and Red, founded the non-profit organisation in 2016. It’s perhaps not surprising it’s as beautiful a brand as it is, with Emily’s influences from the amazing places she’s travelled clear to see. Having questioned the lack of high-quality homewares options in the ethical interiors sector, Emily made it her mission to create a model for considerate, socially valuable shopping that doesn’t compromise on quality or style.
Passionate about the ways in which consumers have the power to change the future of e-commerce and create an impact in social change, the brand epitomises the true meaning of sustainability. Quite beautifully, Aerende means ‘care’ in Olde English and was consciously chosen to reflect their commitments to heritage skills, as well as their considerate business practices too.
This is one of those brands that just ooze a sense of sustainability through each of its stunning and tactile fibres. Luks Linen homewares products are ethically made and hand loomed by master weavers in Turkey and their collection of textiles are made to be long lasting and incredibly versatile.
Crucial to the ethical ethos of the brand and the fact they advocate for ethical production, each beautiful piece is sustainably made and sourced. Luks Linen is proud to partner with local family run ateliers who use locally grown cotton which is spun, dyed and woven in the area in which it was cultivated, cutting down on transportation and the carbon footprint.
As well as minimising their carbon footprint by bulk ordering from our ateliers, they also chose to be an e-commerce platform in order to reduce the use of paper by generating invoices and managing returns online. Their packaging is made from recycled and recyclable materials too and all of the fabrics and materials used in the Luks ranges are locally grown, spun, dyed and woven.
Perhaps one of the most well known environmentally friendly and ethical home brands in the UK, Nkuku deserves a place on the list. Based in Devon, the brand works with natural and recycled materials through sustainable methods of production and creates products that enhance our lifestyles while championing a sustainable forward movement.
Nkuku works with artisans throughout the world, supporting and celebrating their skills by bringing their products to a wider audience across the globe. Adhering to the standard globally recognised 10 Principles Of Fair Trade, they ensure they gather the waste leftover from other industries including cotton from discarded t-shirts, leather, metals and glass as well as recycled saris too.
Somehow cider maker and flooring specialists, Tasha and Barney Green, stumbled upon an idea to leave their jobs and set up Weaver Green, a company making recycled plastic rugs and textiles from discarded plastic bottles.
So, how did it all come about, and why was sustainability so important to them? Having stumbled across a very rudimentary fishing rope while travelling in Asia, that was made from unravelled plastic bottles, lids and all, and used to tether fishing boats, the couple had a light bulb moment. Could they take some of the mountains of plastic waste that is polluting our seas and landfill and turn it into a useful and practical yarn?
Utilising the skills Barney had picked up in the flooring industry alongside Tasha’s knowledge from her organic drinks business, the couple started exploring how they could give plastic, as a robust material, a second, more long-term use within our homes and gardens. Today, Weaver Green is responsible for recycling over 80 million plastic bottles and creating beautiful home textiles that look and feel just like cotton and wool.
Joy, our founder & editor picked some of her favourite homewares brands doing great things within the sustainability sphere.
This award-winning design studio based in New York marries thoughtful design with materials that are recycled and long lasting, breathing new life cycles into textiles otherwise relegated to waste.
Find some of their pieces here.
Okay, so we cheated with this one a little bit as they do also do beautiful, ethically made clothing pieces too. But, Aiayu’s sustainable homewares are stunning and all part of the brand’s principle that true beauty is a reflection of an object’s integrity. They redefine luxury by merging nature’s best materials with exceptional craftsmanship and simple Scandinavian design.
Find some of their pieces here.
MOLA SASA creates unique handcrafted pieces that aim to bridge gaps between different communities, artisan techniques and the modern world. They collaborate directly with various indigenous communities of Colombia to translate their own traditional art forms and crafts into collections.
Find some of their pieces here.