During the last twenty years, there has been a dramatic change in attitude to Interior Design that has been less of a fashion statement than a  ‘state of mind’. This new way of looking at interior space has been spurred on by the big changes that have occurred in our home and work life, as well as the growing environmental movement that is taking place worldwide.

 

Lets face it eco-design is here to stay. As the world’s natural resources dry up and the stresses of modern living are not going away. Most of the attention regarding the creation of eco-friendly and sustainable buildings is concerned with the fabric of the building but interiors design remains slow to change. The reason for this is that many interior designers, architects and many of the public think an eco-interior will be ugly, uncomfortable and unfashionable. In fact a lot of people think they don’t have the skills or training to make their home more environmentally friendly. If you want to furnish and decorate your home more responsibly, then make the internet your friend. There are hundreds of eco-home resource websites where you can purchase beautiful, natural and inspirational objects, furniture, furnishings and paints. Local auctions, secondhand shops and furniture recyle centres are a great source of interesting objects that you can upcycle or use in a new and exciting way.

 

There are now not many areas of our life over which we have control, so our homes have become an important means of self-expression and provide us with a sanctuary where we can relax and be ourselves away from the stresses of the world. So the role of the home is changing fast. Rather than being somewhere to entertain, our desire to create a personal haven where natural elements are used both in the inside and outside in a natural flow.

 

For the last twenty years I have been involved in providing international training courses in eco-design and holistic design subjects at the Holistic Design Institute. Our students come from many backgrounds and disciplines, but all are interested in creating healthy and life-supporting spaces both at home and at work. The more time we spend indoors the more these places play a pivotal role in our health and well-being. It is now common knowledge that our immediate environment dramatically affects our behaviour, moods and health and this changing awareness has meant that expectations of  clients in both the private and commercial sector has radically altered. Responding to the changing demands has been a slow process but one which is gaining momentum. Planners, architects and interior designers are now coming to realise that their designs need to be less of a personal statement and while creating stylish and beautiful spaces they also need to be more in tune with the health and needs of the occupants using the space.

 

Running alongside this more caring role, designers are having to become much more responsible in the choice of materials which they specify. It has been our aim at the Holistic Design Institute to offer extended and specialist training in areas of design which traditional interior design schools ignore. We are living in a world of limited resources and this changing world should be reflected in design training. Much more energy needs to be put into the use of environmentally friendly materials and the development of natural paints. The fabric industry is one of the chief pollutants of  ground water and it is up to designers to lead the way in finding organic materials and fabrics which without chemical finishes. We also need to question the origins of  hardwoods from suspect sources more thoroughly. With the global village there is no excuse for us not to use furniture made from bamboo, rattan and other renewable resources.

 

A comfortable and relaxed atmosphere of an interior or exterior space is not just created by focusing on the hard objects and materials but by other subtle elements, such as natural light, air, colour, sound and aroma. These aspects of design are more important than many designers realise. Most people would agree that a building without ‘soul’ no matter how well-designed or expensive never fulfils its potential and is not a place where one wants to be. I am sure you can think of several such buildings in the town or city where you live. By changing the subtle environment  we can re-discover what we already have and realise its potential without always having to move or create new buildings. There is definitely a growing interest in this important area of interior design and many designers are paying more attention to the subtle atmosphere they are creating.

 

These ideas about design and the changing role of the home are not just limited to the UK and I am proud to report that our school has students in over 35 countries - in every continent. I am often invited to give lectures and workshops and have recently returned from a successful lecture tour of South Africa, sponsored by a large paint company and magazine group. The enthusiastic response from architects, designers and individuals interested in a more sustainable lifestyle and caring approach to building was overwhelming.

 

It seems that people everywhere just need to know they are not working alone and that they are supported by an international green and natural design movement. The lesson from this is that we should all take heart that the idea of healthy and natural living has definitely permeated into the mainstream. Although there is a long way to go, I firmly believe that the continued demand from the grass roots level plus the  hard work and  commitment of all eco and holistic designers is responsible for break-through of this type into more the conventional building market. Let us hope that more and more people take up this challenge and discover the joy and rewards of creating and living in a holistic home.  Let us lead by example!!

 

Suzy Chiazzari B.Ed. Btec  Dip ID.  and Associate member of RIBA. She is the founder and principal of  the Holistic Design Institute who offers professional training courses in Holistic Interior Design and Colour Therapeutics for Interiors through the Holistic Design & Colour Institute leading to an International Diploma qualification. 

 

http://www.holisticdesign.co.uk

http://www.iriscolour.co.uk