Original Article/Research
Environmentally sustainable interior design: A snapshot of current supply of and demand for green, sustainable or Fair Trade products for interior design practice

Open Access funded by The Gulf Organisation for Research and Development
Under a Creative Commons license


Although environmentally sustainable interior design (ESID) has become a major issue in interior design practice, according to the literature the frequency with which interior designers make sustainable choices in real practice is still limited, particularly where materials selection is concerned. This research aimed to develop a comprehensive understanding of what constitutes a sustainable material choice and subsequently undertake a study of the current supply of and demand for green, sustainable and Fair Trade (GSFT) products for interior design practice.

In the first instance a desk study of currently available GSFT materials was undertaken. Following this non-participant structured observation of accessibility of GSFT products and a survey on the supply of GSFT materials was undertaken. Finally semi structured interviews with retailers were conducted.

The results demonstrate the wide range of GSFT products that are currently in the marketplace (including fabrics, window treatments, surface materials, flooring, walls and ceilings) and indeed many of these materials and products could be sourced from the retail outlets surveyed during the research. However it was not easy to readily identify GSFT products and frequently the researcher had to look through volumes of materials, relying on personal knowledge and manufacturers’ literature to determine the provenance of the materials marketed. Sourcing products in this way is inefficient and time consuming and has been highlighted as a barrier to engaging in ESID in the literature.

Only a small number of the retailers interviewed have actively encouraged their customers to purchase GSFT. This reluctance to promote GSFT may reflect a lack of information on the provenance of materials to hand but also their belief that people are not aware of the benefits of either sustainable or green materials and therefore not engaged in ESID. If they perceived that there was a greater demand for GSFT products, the retailers may choose to promote these materials more effectively.

The research has confirmed how difficult it is to find information on the provenance of materials to encourage the practice of ESID. Better access to a basic knowledge of sustainability as well as more up-to-date information about sustainable materials will play a critical role in promoting sustainable practice.


Interior design
Green materials
Decision making

Peer review under responsibility of The Gulf Organisation for Research and Development.