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SBID’s Vanessa Brady on sustainability in interior design

25 May 2023

The founder of this professional body talks about its work in supporting its members to be more sustainable including innovations to the manufacturing process and supply chain.


by Helen Parton


SBID founder Vanessa Brady set up the organisation fourteen years ago. © SBID


The Society of British and International Interior Design (SBID) was founded by Dr Vanessa Brady OBE in 2009 to promote and champion the profession. It represents professionals in the UK as well as enhancing their reputation around the world, setting standards on innovative best practice through, for example, professional accreditation and a comprehensive awards programme.


Among the issues facing the interior design industry these days is tackling climate change, something the SBID is at the forefront of advising its membership on. “Generally, our members are actively engaged in reducing the carbon footprint of their operations,” says Brady. “This is a real change in the ‘tick-box’ behaviour of a decade ago. Both our designers and suppliers are more conscious of the materials and processes being used to produce an interior scheme,” adding that designers are recognising the power of specification in influencing sustainable choices for client projects. “It’s a strong message to anyone in business to implement policies and practices to improve sustainability and reduce their carbon footprint.” 


SBID Awards 2022 finalist Makers of Sustainable Spaces specialise in full package green design projects. © SBID/Makers of Sustainable Spaces 


There has been a definite shift in thinking as far as environmental matters are concerned, she continues, “Years ago I think sustainability was regarded more as a cost, a nuisance and merely a necessity for compliance. Now we are all aware of the issues that face our planet and it’s important to continue finding better ways to design with sustainability in mind - whether that be seeking out new smart home technologies, specifying energy-saving solutions or sourcing locally to lower transport emissions.” The topic she says is now “an essential cornerstone of all industry conversations as we drive for a greener future.”


Toronto-based firm II by IV Design was an SBID Awards 2022 finalist and specialise in design excellence and liveable luxury. © SBID/ II by IV Design


SBID for its part has always considered doing business in a greener way, “When we incorporated SBID 14 years ago, integrating sustainability in the manufacturing process or business ethics was one of the five core principles of membership to encourage suppliers to showcase their commitment to improving the impact of their operations. We require that every member has a sustainable policy and can account for their claims.”


Indeed, innovation in manufacturing abounds Brady continues, “We’ve seen this in key sectors such as lighting technology and brassware such as taps that reduce water consumption.” Brady also welcomes the transition from chrome finishes, a process which is greatly damaging to the environment, towards black finishes, “Equally with paint and fabric dye no longer being poured thoughtlessly into rivers, innovation is changing the way in which these products are manufactured and produced to reduce harmful chemicals and environmental damage.”


2022 SBID Award Winner Sola Kitchens offers innovative designs in both classic and contemporary styles based on Scandinavian design principles. © SBID/Sola Kitchens 


SBID is working with a variety of industries to promote the circular economy, tackle waste and encourage more sustainable practices, “We’re now working closely with the Italian Leather Organisation which has traditionally worked with transport, fashion and crafts, but not previously engaged with interior design. After a trip to see the changes they have made all the way through the supply chain, SBID is striving to share these eco-centric processes with our members.”


Greater care for the environment is being driven by stakeholders throughout the interior design business from investors to consumers, “It’s great to see so many change-makers entering the market to challenge existing techniques and processes, further driving change in their respective industries. By encouraging businesses to embrace the goals we want to achieve and operating towards shared standards, we will grow faster.”


SBID’s Vanessa Brady on sustainability in interior design
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