Consumers are becoming more and more critical when it comes to a brand’s attitude towards political and social issues. They demand credibility and engagement from the big players: environmentally friendly and fair production conditions, sustainable management, and problem-solving approaches toward global problems, such as plastic waste and waste of resources.
Companies who operate internationally are increasingly recognising that they need more than clever marketing to be successful in the long run. At the 2018 World Economic Forum in Davos, eleven global brands announced that they would be using reusable, recyclable or compostable packaging exclusively, by 2025 at the latest. The Amcor, Ecover, Evian, L’Oréal, Mars, Marks & Spencer, PepsiCo, The Coca-Cola Company, Unilever, Walmart and Werner & Mertz brands, taken together, represent some six million tons of plastic a year. Fashion labels such as ASOS, H&M and Zara have put their signatures to the Roadmap towards responsible viscose and modal fibre manufacturing – a huge step towards manufacturing mass-produced goods more sustainably. In so doing, they are reacting, among other things, to a finding from the 2017 Edelman Trust Barometer, according to which 57 percent of consumers worldwide buy certain products and boycott others – depending on how the manufacturing company handles its social and environmental responsibility.
Can sustainable design have a positive influence on the future?
A sustainable approach can, at least, delay global chaos, and it’s designers, in particular, who have opportunities to change structures radically. The ‚ecosign‘ Academy of Design in Cologne has been in existence for more than 20 years. 45 teaching staff supervise 230 students in the disciplines of communication design, product design, film design, photography, and illustration. The students can determine their own areas of focus and combine them entirely according to their own credo, which is a little reminiscent of pedagogical concepts from Scandinavia. This gives rise to an interdisciplinary course of design studies, with environmental, economic, social, and cultural knowledge strands – an ideal basis for sustainable design.
Manufacturing companies support more transparent product chains
Francesca Gentili who is based in London, specialises in handcrafted, original products. Her beautiful rugs are hand woven by traditional craftswomen and craftsmen in India, Morocco and Peru. All of them work exclusively with pure, natural products, using centuries-old weaving techniques. Every piece tells a story and, according to the way they are made, can take up to a year to complete. Muska from Milan manufacture their products in Italy and only with partners who operate responsibly and meet the label’s sustainability production standards. Using exclusively chemical-free natural fibres and a printing process that saves significantly on ink and around 50 percent of water, the Italian company is moving towards becoming a forerunner in terms of sustainability.
The Heimtextil Trend Table has drawn the trends for 2019/2020 from attempts such as these by companies to embark on a new age, and from many other exciting developments. Under the heading ‘Toward Utopia’, five trends describe a world in which we look for spiritual affirmation and a greater sense of purpose. “We are taking responsibility for our lives and looking for ways of life that fulfil our value system, in the search for a new utopia – for a society that has the well-being of all its citizens as its goal”, as Caroline Till, co-founder of the design studio FranklinTill explains. In this context, the search for new lifestyles, where the themes of mindfulness and sustainability play a major role, is the main challenge in the decades to come.
You can find out more about this in the ‘Toward Utopia’ Trend Book, which can be ordered online now, and take part in further discussions in the Trend Space lecture area during the fair.
Header photo: Madeleine Alizadeh, owner of the sustainable fashion label Dariadéh