Designing for a sustainable future


Produced with leading architectural and design magazine, Dezeen, and moderated by founder and editor-in-chief Marcus Fairs, the live talk explored the unique challenges four different people face in tackling the same issue: taking sustainability mainstream.

We invited representatives from Johnson Tiles and The Good Plastics Company who are displaying product samples in the Material Lab library. They joined Nature Squared co-founder Lay Koon Tan and Katie Treggiden, a published author championing a circular approach to design, to share the steps they’ve taken to help shape a less wasteful future.

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Dezeen founder - Marcus Fairs

One important topic the panel discussed and also highlighted in Katie Treggiden’s fifth book ‘Wasted: When Trash Becomes Treasure’, was the importance of shifting people's perception of 'waste'. They discussed how designers and manufacturers are now exploring how once valuable raw materials get classified as waste, can then be reclassified as valuable again as new born materials.

In fact, two of our panellists business models are built on this model; Nature Squared aims to reimagine waste materials as luxury products, and is best known for creating a dashboard made from feathers for British car brand Rolls Royce. While the innovative, circular business model of The Good PLastics Company sees the firm take industrial plastic waste to create beautiful, consistent – or creatively varied – decorative panels for commercial interiors.

While the obstacles faced by a traditional 120 year old manufacturer like Johnson Tiles, are very different to those of an entrepreneurial business, like The Good Plastic Company, what united all of the panellists was a sense of responsibility and drive to collaborate.

Successful examples of this are already being put into practice; Jason Bridges of Johnson Tiles shared how they recently eradicated all single-use packaging from the business working with one of its key suppliers. The two businesses have also launched a pilot project to explore ways of alleviating packaging waste on building sites.

The importance of tackling the shared environmental challenges together is clear. By acknowledging that design is also part of the problem and the solution. We look forward to discussing more of this as we move into 2021, and sharing more material resources that we have discovered to help us all design a more sustainable future for all. To watch the discussion in full, visit

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