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SDC – The Sustainable Design Collective

SDC Forum & Awards – A day created by workplace designers for designers

The Sustainable Design Collective’s Forum, held at the end of April at the Crypt on the Green in Clerkenwell, was a hive of activity and ‘buzzing’ with discussions about the industry’s quest for achieving greater sustainability.

The Forum was specifically designed as an interactive event for designers to learn and hear about industry-wide efforts to drive greater environmental responsibility, wellbeing and social value. Panel discussions included designing for end of life; benchmarking and certification for product selection; the quest for Net Zero; and ‘making change happen’. The Furniture Practice, Vitra, Cosentino, Bureau Group and Andreu World were headline sponsors. Exhibitors also included Fredericia, Benchmark, Sedus, Workspaces by JPA, Tarkett, Humanscale, Milliken, Crown Workspace, Rawside, The Senator Group, The Lindhurst Group, Lintex, d line and Graphenstone.

“The SDC forum was designed to be a ‘first of its kind’ event,” explains Harsha Kotak, Founder of WOD, Women in Office Design and Co-Founder of SDC. “Launched in January 2022, the Sustainable Design Collective’s mission is to provide an opportunity for knowledge sharing and learning. The group meet regularly and felt it was important to also open the conversation to a wider audience. It was really rewarding to see so many designers exchanging thoughts and ideas as well as finding out more about manufacturers and suppliers in the office design sector.”

As well as the panel discussions, the event also included an opportunity for SDC members to interview the headline sponsors about their commitments to greater sustainability. Some of the other exhibitors were also invited to give presentations about their overall approach to sustainability.

There was also a Material Lab to enable designers to experience some of the latest innovations. Curated by The Furniture Practice, the Lab included workshops hosted by SDC members from Perkins & Will, TP Bennett and Conran and Partners together with Oliver Hall representing the British Council of Offices, to discuss material choices and considerations.

A major highlight of the event was the first ever SDC Awards. Hosted by SDC members, Gurvinder Khurana of M Moser Associates and Nigel Tresise of Align Interior Architecture and Design, the ‘trophies’ were uniquely designed by Rawside, a UK furniture manufacturer dedicated to designing sustainable office furniture solutions.

Selected by a panel of industry experts, the judging criteria included environmental impact; sustainability; as well as social value. To ensure equity, the judging was carried out independently with each question being assessed using a separate scoring mechanism.

Office fit-out projects: Finalists

  • Apteriors Ltd for Reds10’s HQ, the Metal Box Factory
  • Bureau Group for x+y Foundry, 6 Brindley Place, Birmingham
  • HLW International for Kingfisher’s Padding Square offices
  • Space Invader for the Stopford House project with Stockport Council.

Space Invader was announced the winner. The judges were impressed with how the design expertly supported a hybrid working philosophy. Refurbishment was selected rather than new build and the design team really focussed on a combined approach to environmental, wellbeing and social purpose issues.

Apteriors was selected as runner-up with praise for the considerations to carbon impact, indoor quality, and waste avoidance as well as future proofing.

Innovation category: Finalists

  • Recoup Design
  • 2050 Materials platform
  • Crown Workplace’s Sustainable Workplace Change Service
  • IOBAC adhesive-free flooring installation tabs

The award was presented to Recoup Design. This emerging enterprise was selected for its approach of salvaging, restoring & repurposing materials for commercial interiors. The contribution to social value was particularly outstanding through paid work placements through collaboration with charities, such as Crisis.

Products category: Finalist

  • Modus Furniture’s Edge Free seating
  • Eco Alfombra workplace tapestries with Latin American NGO, Casa Congo and Unispace
  • Matek material made from waste from Mater
  • Rezign material from PlanQ

Eco Alombra workplace tapestries was selected as the winner. This is an amazing collaboration between a collective of Nicaraguan women supported by Casa Congo and Unispace. Leveraging social design to upcycle waste, empower women and alleviate poverty, the project creates beautiful tapestries made from collected plastic waste. The group used a wonderful strap line – “una bolsa menos, una tortuga mas!” (one less bag, one more turtle!).

There were two runners-up who scored equally.

Modus’ Edge Free seating is made without foam or polyester wrap. The all natural fibres offer a significant reduction in embodied impacts & VOC avoidance. In addition, social value is offered through employment practices, apprenticeships & internships.

Rezign material from PlanQ is manufactured from post consumer textile waste as well as biobased fibres. The process includes shredding the fibres before being carded into felt.

It is then pressed with a biodegradable binder to make a hard veneer for numerous interiors products. Further details will be included in future editions of the SD magazine.