01 Sep 2018

Vegan Design is the New Trend

By Helen Winter from Coral Interiors


As ethical consumerism and plant-based lifestyles grow exponentially, fueled by Netflix documentaries and other media and social media exposes, consumers are ditching animal products not just in their fridge, but also their home.


So, you’ve cut down or cut out meat and dairy and avoid toxic chemicals and animal tested cosmetics. The next logical step is how you furnish your home. If you love animals so much you’d never eat one, why would you sit on a sofa made from the skin of a dead cow? Or lay your head upon a pillow filled with feathers which may well have been plucked from a live bird?


It’s a question that more and more vegans (people who eat nothing containing animal products or which exploit creatures) are asking.


Meet Bournemouth-based interior designer Helen Winter, she can help with the answers. Helen is one of three interior designers in the UK trained in Vegan interior design and is offering it as a service to clients.


“I’ve been a vegetarian since I was 14 and over the last few years became vegan, although I hadn’t always considered where the non-food products I used came from,” she says.


“I’ve always subconsciously steered my clients away from animal products - I’d never recommend hides or wool carpets. I then heard about a course set up by the American designer, Deborah Di Mare, in which you can study and learn about animal and non-animal products”


Helen describes Deborah Di Mare’s course as… “GRIM! In China, live plucking of ducks and geese is totally normal; for part of the course you see images of feathers being ripped from live birds which will live in my memory forever.”


“The course also opened my eyes about leather, which we tend to assume, like feathers and down, is a by-product of the meat industry. What the course taught me was that there’s no such a thing as by-products” she says.


The Di Mare course – which named Helen its worldwide ‘Designer of the Month’ in March, also covered silk and wool, which is generally considered cruelty-free by most. “I’m sure that small-scale farmers look after their sheep properly and shear them gently but when you see shearing at a huge operation in Australia they get horribly wounded,” she says.


There’s a wealth of luxurious products, these days, faux leathers which are softer and suppler than cowhide. Gone are the days of cheap and nasty vinyl and we don’t have to rely on petrochemicals, either!


“Products can be grown to specification,” she says, which means many natural products (and genuine by-products of agriculture) can be formed into beautifully-textured faux leathers, including pineapple leaves, mushrooms and banana leaves without there having to be any awkward material seams and wastage.


Veganism used to be seen as ‘weird’ but it’s so much more mainstream now. The official figure is about 1% of the population being vegan, but a survey recently predicted that it could be up to 7%. It can only be a matter of time before the philosophies adopted by designers like Helen move into the mainstream!


Are you interested in Vegan interior design? Take the Vegan Design 101 course here, and use code HWINTER for a delightful 10% off.

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