Reflecting on the issue of plastic pollution in the context of interior design and drawing insights from Jennifer Gabrys’ work. Gabrys’ exploration of the vast accumulation of plastics in ocean gyres and the transformation of marine environments due to microplastics underscores the need for a paradigm shift in interior design materials. As designers, assessing the environmental impact of plastics and synthetic materials in our projects is crucial. For inspiration, we can look at companies like Kvadrat, leading the way in the textile and design industries by turning to recycled and sustainable materials, including ocean-bound plastic. This not only helps reduce marine pollution but also promotes a circular economy.
Gabrys refers to plastics as “materials in process,” highlighting the importance of understanding the entire lifecycle of our materials. This comprehensive view pushes us to consider the aesthetic and functional attributes and the environmental impact from production to disposal.
The fragmentation of plastics into microplastics that persist in the environment suggests a need for designs that emphasize durability and longevity. Creating timeless spaces with long-lasting materials minimizes waste and frequent renovations.
Drawing from Gabrys’ insights, there is a clear call for designers to become environmental advocates. This includes educating clients about the environmental impacts of their choices and steering them towards sustainable practices. A compelling case study is the transformation of a eco-friendly small retail space by designer K, who exclusively used recycled and biodegradable materials, illustrating how aesthetic and environmental considerations can harmoniously coexist. (Redazione, 2020)
The challenge of plastic pollution also opens doors for creative innovation in interior design. We can explore unique ways to incorporate recycled materials, transforming waste into valuable and aesthetically pleasing design elements. Promoting Biodegradability and Non-Toxicity: As Gabrys notes the emergence of microbial life forms that ingest plastics, it’s increasingly important to prioritize non-toxic and biodegradable materials in our designs, ensuring they don’t contribute to harmful environmental processes.
Reflecting on the Broader Impact of Design Choices: Gabrys’ insights prompt us to consider the broader impact of our design choices on environmental issues like plastic pollution.
In conclusion, Gabrys’ insights provide a critical lens for designers to reevaluate and improve their practices. By choosing sustainable materials, educating clients, advocating for environmental responsibility, and innovating in material usage, we can significantly address the challenge of plastic pollution. Let us each take a step towards sustainability in our next project, setting a new interior design standard that values aesthetic and environmental integrity.
Gabrys, Jennifer. “Plastic and the Work of the Biodegradable.” In Accumulation, 1st ed., 20. Routledge, 2013.
Redazione. “Go Green Oman: Oman’s First Eco-Friendly Supermarket.” The Plan, October 30, 2020. https://www.theplan.it/eng/design/go-green-oman-oman-s-first-eco-friendly-supermarket
“Kvadrat Launches Upholstery Textile Made with Ocean Material Innovation.” tide.earth. October 10, 2023. https://www.tide.earth/en/news/kvadrat-launches-upholstery-collection-sport/.