Vegan interior design is now easier and more sustainable than ever.
We have so many alternatives for the outdated animal products we have in our homes because various vegan materials are readily available.
Vegan Interior Design Interview:
Award Winning Vegan Interior Designer Interview
We talked to Aline Dürr, a Sydney-based award-winning vegan interior architect and designer.
Highly experienced in building a healthy home design, Aline has been a design professional in the commercial sector for years.
She is also active in animal rescue and is a dedicated foster parent to countless ex-battery hens and rescue animals.
Shifting the focus
The focus in the vegan world nowadays is on vegan food and vegan fashion.
People already know the importance of cutting meat and other animal products out of their diets.
In 2021, the Vegan Interior Design industry is lagging a bit behind.
It’s simply because there hasn’t been a spotlight on this aspect of veganism yet.
What Household Items Are Not Vegan?
There are a lot of things in interior design that are not vegan.
The most common of which are:
- Down feathers
These are the most obvious ones that we might know or think about.
Leather couches, for example, are filled with feathers from ducks or geese.
Most of the things that Aline’s clients get surprised about are daily items, such as towels or toilet paper.
Toilet paper is not necessarily an interior design product.
But it is something that’s in your space and you use in your house every day.
Towels and bathrobes are mostly not vegan as well, because beeswax and gelatin—which is made of animal bones and cartilage—are used during their production.
There’s also wall paint and furniture glue.
Wall paint is mostly made with casein, a protein produced as a component of cow’s milk.
Mopheads, solvents, and dyes are also being tested on animals or have animal parts in them.
So there’s a little bit of cruelty hiding in a lot of these everyday products that we just don’t think about.
Toxins & Chemicals In Household Products
The problem with materials that are traditionally used in interior design, like woolen rugs or leather couches and chairs, is that these products are not only not animal-friendly, as they are based on animal cruelty…
But they are also really unhealthy for us humans.
Leather, is thought to only be a byproduct of the meat industry.
About 1.5 billion cows murdered every year in the world, for leather production alone.
If you think about it, leather is just the skin of dead animals, and many animals, for that matter.
These animals naturally rot if you leave them in nature.
In order to actually make a product material out of their skin which can be used to put on a couch that lasts for years, a lot of toxins and chemicals need to be added.
Once you put that material on a couch, those chemicals off-gas and absorb into your skin, which can stay up to 20 years.
Vegan Interior Design Alternatives
When Aline talks of leather alternatives, most of her clients are reluctant because they think that they’re made of plastic, uncomfortable, and are not the real thing.
And that is what she aims to raise awareness about, that there are now a lot of healthier leather alternatives out there.
They can be made of fruit materials such as apple or mango waste, but they have the same thickness, feel, and look as leather that you won’t really miss anything.
Many Children Are Allergic To Wool Rugs
Wool is another example of something a lot of people are actually allergic to.
Lanolin, a wax secreted by the sebaceous glands of wool-bearing animals, causes skin issues in kids, but nobody attributes it to the actual woolen rug that the child is rolling on all day.
People think wool is a very organic and natural product as sheep needs to be shorn anyway.
If we left them in nature, they would only produce the wool that they need to produce.
However, we’ve genetically manipulated them so they now grow extra folds of skin, which grow more wool and that is sheared once or twice a year.
This is unnatural because if we see them in winter, they actually get cold and die from frostbite.
It’s a big business and so if left alone, sheep wouldn’t need to go through the stress of being shorn and hurt in the process.
Animal Products: A Thing of The Past
Traditional materials like wool and leather which kept us warm and safe years ago were probably necessary back then.
We used what we had because there aren’t many alternatives.
So now when you are at a store and see a wool blanket, you don’t make the connection between the animal that had to grow this product and was shorn and tortured in the process, just to have this beautiful end result.
“You can’t blame anyone for not making the connection because it’s hard to make and people just don’t know what the cruelty is behind these products.”
There are now good quality, beautiful vegan products that can be used as really good alternatives.
Vegan Interior Design Application
Designing a vegan home or space is not so different from the normal interior design.
It is not any more difficult or complicated than designing a traditional household.
It has many benefits and is usually healthier since vegan materials are more organic and natural.
However, accessibility and availability of supplies are still a bit of an issue.
A lot of materials and finishes are being developed all over the world, but quite mostly by small companies and suppliers.
Aline, who is personally based in Australia and caters to Australian clients, usually finds a lot of these great, useful, and suitable products are usually only available in the United States.
“I googled ‘vegan paint Australia’ three years ago. Nothing came up. I would have had to order it from the US and it was really expensive.”
Half a year later, there are now two Australian companies openly marketing vegan wall paints with the same price, qualities, choice of colors, and compatibility as the big commercial brands that are available.
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Similarly in the UK, vegan products are already in the market, although not as widely spread yet.
There has been a lot of progress seen for vegan interior design products coming out and being developed at the moment, be it for paints or alternative leathers and wall products.
And it is continuously accelerating as we speak.
2 Luxury Vegan Hotel Suites
The Hilton London Bankside designed the world’s first vegan suite in 2019.
Everything is vegan, down to the ink in the pens that are on the desk to the toiletries.
The Koukoumi Hotel Mykonos, the first and only vegan hotel in Greece, opened in 2020.
It’s booked out all the time because it’s new, different, and people appreciate the effort that’s been made to create this 100% vegan space.
A vegan household is not more expensive or any more complicated to design.
It’s much healthier and vegan materials can look just as good as the original animal products.
The best news is that all the vegan materials that we need are already here.
How Consumers Drive The Shift To Vegan
Sometimes it can be hard to actually know if a product is vegan or not.
This is especially true with furniture, as there are no labels like we see on food packaging.
As a consumer, you simply have to ask the supplier or manufacturer if the product contains any animal products.
It can be a bit tricky because as a manufacturer, they usually know what they use, such as what glues they put in the furniture.
They also know that if it comes to a supplier who’s just selling on products, they will just give evasive answers because they don’t necessarily know how to answer that question as they cannot trace back the whole manufacturing process.
So as a consumer, unfortunately, we still have to ask a lot of questions.
That’s what we have to do, create demand so that suppliers and manufacturers are forced to look into alternatives.
This gives us a chance to create a movement, a change–because people then have to start thinking about it.
Suppliers need to think about other ways to produce furniture, materials, and finishes that don’t involve any animal-derived products.
If there is nobody asking for it, they don’t need to change.
If people actually ask about the ingredients and manufacturing processes, they’ll have to think about it and they will have to be changed.
Companies Are Choosing To Go Vegan
There’s a towel company that wanted to jump on the whole vegan trend and bring out one vegan towel series.
They had to do research and look into how to replace the beeswax and dyes and everything they use that was based on animal products or animal cruelty.
Then they worked out that it’s not more expensive to replace everything with more natural products, that it’s not complicated or takes longer to do.
Now, they’re changing their whole production–a 100-year old company’s very traditional theory–all by 2022.
They’re committed to make everything vegan because there’s no difference in price or effort.
Why wouldn’t we?
A supplier has the power to look into different ways to cater to everyone, rather than just for the traditional world.
As a consumer, as always, just like we’ve seen with the food movement and with fashion…
If we ask for it, there’ll be somebody bringing out a product to cater to us.
Get Educated About Vegan Interior Design
What Aline is most passionate about is educating people, because “you do not know what you do not know.”
This is one of the reasons why she started offering online courses and even wrote her book Vegan Interior Design–because she wanted people to have a starting point: to understand and have a background of this movement.
She wanted people to know what is vegan interior design, which products are not vegan, and most importantly, what are alternatives you should know and use if you want to make a successful transition.
In her book, she speaks about the background of veganism, the adverse health effects of animal products in the household, and the healthier alternatives for us, our family, and the planet that do not harm animals.
You can check Aline’s online courses for interior designers and non-designers or avail of her international interior design consultancy services online at VeganInteriorDesign.com.
Her book Vegan Interior Design is also available in any country of the world and on all major online retailers like Amazon.
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