Stella Gittins Discusses Eco and Socially Conscious Design Practices 23rd June 2022 | IN DESIGN ADVICE | BY SBID

In this week’s interview with SBID Awards Product Design judge Co-Founder & Director of Accouter Group of Companies, Stella Gittins discusses the power of design, Accouter’s journey towards becoming a B-corp and talks about the increasing consumer focus on the ethical and sustainable sides of business.

How would you define the power of design?

Design has the power to influence the future, whether that be through innovation, sustainability impacts or the drive for change. Design has the ability to re-imagine what we think we know, and for me, the power of good design is the unity of beauty and functionality. It is courageous in its input and modest in its output, and good design is never out of fashion.

Accouter have recently applied to become B-Corp certified. What will this important certification mean for your business and your clients?

As a future-focused collective, we realised how much difference we could be making on eco and social levels. The first lockdown taught us that even taking small steps to make a change will eventually lead to a more significant impact on healing the planet. Becoming more eco and socially conscious for many in the team was an essential drive for change. So instead of sustaining and maintaining our performance, we prioritised plans to regenerate and commence a never-ending journey towards ‘sustainability’.

According to Forbes in 2021, “Generation Z (’97-’12) along with Millennials (’81-’96) are more likely to make purchase decisions based on values and principle.” Therefore, commercially we must also be future-proofing ourselves as an industry as the more sustainably conscious generations start to hold the purse strings. Obtaining our B Corp accreditation through initiatives with our teams, customers, supply chain, the wider community and by being transparent and accountable will undoubtedly build that critical trust factor within our business and clients for the future.

responsible designing, Stella Gittins Discusses Eco and Socially Conscious Design Practices

When thinking about the future of interior design, what are the key factors driving industry development?

We have lived through, and are still living through, a significant period of re-adjustment that brings a new meaning to and re-orientating our life perspectives. Affiliation with nature and well-being has become a fundamental concept in our way of life. So much so, we have already noticed this drive for change in how we can design a space that incorporates elements for a positive mental and well-being outcome.

Likewise, sustainability is a key focus for industry development. I recently read that 22 million pieces of furniture are thrown away every year in the UK. The shocking stats made us think, “we can do better.” Customers increasingly want a product sourced from ‘responsible’ suppliers and are interested in full traceability on the supply chain offering ‘responsible’ products. Much like our clients, we are investing in the future. Our dedicated ‘Eco-Warrior’ team are directing their efforts on measures that deliver the biggest impacts, with an emphasis on minimising any destructive environmental impact.

When it comes to product specification, how far do environmental considerations influence your design process and buying decisions?

Increasingly, we are actively educating our supply chain on the B Corp Movement. Although we have just started this journey, we are actively on a mission to collect data from our supply chain and environmental credentials of the products we are procuring, intending to deliver on our ambition to source 100% from responsible suppliers.

Launching this year, we will use the Environmental Icons to badge products within our BoxNine7 Curated Furniture Packages service and Bazaar’s e-commerce range. The Environmental icons cover everything from ethical design, FSC Timber and fillings to recyclable packaging. Not only does this influence our design process, but it provides our clients with clarity surrounding terminology and confidence in what they are buying. Our new badging process will assist in educating us all, and over time we are looking to achieve 100% traceability across the AGC collective.

responsible designing, Stella Gittins Discusses Eco and Socially Conscious Design Practices

Finally, what advice can you give to designers entering the SBID Awards?

My advice would be not to hold back in your entry and share as much as you can about your project. We have been on such a journey the last couple of years, and we need to celebrate the successes we’ve all had during this time!

Questions answered by Stella Gittins, Co-Founder & Group Director, Accouter.

Stella Gittins is the Co-Founder of AGC, London’s fastest-growing portfolio of international award-winning Interior Design companies. Creating the benchmark in luxury living, the Accouter Group of Companies which is home to Accouter Design, A. LONDON and BoxNine7, delivers world-class interior architectural and furnishing services to the global property market and private clients. With 15 years of experience mentoring and directing diverse teams within the field, Stella has spent 7 years building AGC which has been voted one of the best places to work in property on multiple occasions. Taking a lead creative role for the Group, Stella is responsible for all aspects of brand and design and has published four bespoke publications that discuss every corner of luxury life.