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What does it mean to be ethical in interior design?


Is it possible to have luxury, delivered responsibly, with a low impact on the environment, and without compromising on style?

As a society, we are waking up to the damage that irresponsible consumption is doing to the planet. The spotlight has been shone on plastic pollution in our oceans, thanks to David Attenborough’s Blue Planet television series. Public opinion is rising up against unsustainable mass-manufacturing, and movements promoting ethics and sustainability are gathering force such as the philosophy and movement known as Slow Design.

What is Slow Design?

Slow Design is a holistic approach to design that promotes a mindful attitude towards consumption. It not only requires the slowing down of time in producing but also asks us to reevaluate the individual, environmental, economic and social impacts of design from sourcing to outcomes. In other words, to tackle ethical issues in interior design, there needs to be a focus on not only the harmful effects on the planet but additionally focusing on the entire process, from the people involved and the materials sourced to the desired function or purpose of the piece.

Carolyn F. Strauss, founder of SlowLab, and sustainability activist, Alastair Fuad-Luke, defined the term ‘Slow Design’ in a 2008 paper that also developed 6 principles in which to use as an evaluative tool to encourage and inspire this sustainable approach to design.

Peg Stool made sustainably in Dundee

A summary of the 6 Slow Design Principles

The Slow Design Principles encourage:

  • A focus on where pieces are made and the exploration or overlooked materials that can often be undervalued. This includes the wellbeing of the people who make the pieces, ensuring they are treated and paid fairly for their work.
  • Exploring different uses of pieces beyond their “perceived functionalities, physical attributes and lifespans” as quoted by Strauss and Fuad-Luke’s paper, as well as the meanings these designs convey.
  • Looking at the emotions and feelings a piece creates, beyond that of its use. For example, the enjoyment an everyday object can bring and the connection the user has to that particular piece throughout its lifespan.
  • Collaboration between designers and producers, to allow more accessibility of ideas and practices within industry.
  • Keeping local communities and users of the piece/environment in mind, benefitting from local knowledge and involving those who will be directly affected by it.
  • To think of the outcomes and needs for the future and how a design can contribute to that.
Henry Wallpaper
Perfectly Imperfect Stool


AUTHOR was founded on ethical principles in interior design: High-quality British design that is made sustainably and to last. However, this approach to business has not been without its challenges.

Ethics are about integrity, honesty and upholding clearly defined values. We want you to know that our AUTHOR customers always get the best from us. We have an obligation to make sure you are getting the best possible products and the very highest standard of service. This is particularly important when you are investing in one-of-a-kind and heirloom pieces, to be cherished in your home for a lifetime. We want you to be delighted with every aspect of your purchase from the way it looks and the way it is used to the way it was made, the materials used and even the way it was delivered to you.


Wu Bench
Wendy Morrison
Namon Gaston
Namon Gaston

It is often thought that sustainability and style do not go hand in hand but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Many of the beautiful, British-made, handcrafted items in our collections are made from certified, sustainable resources.

AUTHOR cabinetmakers and woodworkers such as the Galvin Brothers, David Watson, Cappa E Spada and Namon Gaston, all use wood from local sources with either certification from the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) or the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC). They also make their furniture pieces to order, ensuring that the piece is personalised and unique to its new owner but also ensuring that a piece is made to be used and with a purpose, not wastefully mass-produced to sit on a shelf and possibly never be used.

Katharina Eisenkoeck, designer and maker, sources stone from disused quarries to produce the weighty bases of her gorgeous mirrors and our Blackpop wallpapers are digitally printed in the UK with environmentally friendly inks and no formaldehyde. All our makers are mindful of sustainability and responsible production, which is something we applaud and support.

Another of our producers, Wildheart Organics, has a noted high standard of ethics. They do not test their own products on animals and neither do they incorporate other products that have been tested on animals. All Wildheart’s containers, bottles and packaging can be recycled. Their candle wax is a vegetarian product, made avoiding petrochemicals and toxic substances. Since all their products are handmade, they are able to ensure quality and the raw material supply chain. The challenges and cost of making candles to these strict specifications means that there are very few companies which do so.


Katharina Eisenkoeck

Almost all of the objects in our collections are designed and made in the UK. The only exception to this is our floor rugs. Our Wendy Morrison rugs are designed by Wendy in Scotland and then skilfully hand-tufted by her team in India. Wendy Morrison’s rugs carry the GoodWeave label. GoodWeave is a global, not-for-profit organisation which operates an international certification programme. The scheme is working to end illegal child labour in the rug industry and to offer educational opportunities to children in South Asia, a cause close to our hearts. Furthermore, we are currently working with the last remaining Scottish rug manufacturer on a new rug, exclusive to AUTHOR and sourcing new partnerships with British rug producers.

We champion the production of objects and furniture that embody ideals of timeless and classic design. We encourage our customers to invest well in these ‘lifetime’ pieces. We want people to consider carefully the objects with which they furnish their homes and to adopt a mindful attitude towards buying furniture for life. We are asking our customers to not buy for consumption’s sake. Pressured or impulsive buying costs more in the long run, as one is drawn into a cycle of continual and wasteful re-buying. Habitual re-buying also causes serious effects to the environment when outmoded or unwanted items are thrown away. We want to shift expectations, so that a furniture purchase is expected to last many years, seeing its owner through house moves and changes in fashion.


The packaging we use is 100% recycled. Our tissue paper wrapping has been recycled and is acid-free. The protective foam pellets that we use are biodegradable. Even our luxury gift wrapping has been recycled, proving that sustainability can be stylish. We also recycle any packaging that has been sent to us and we encourage others to do the same. We try to do what we can, where we can, striving to minimise our impact on the environment.

There will be changes needed in the way we live, work and consume, as we seek to halt the damage that has been done to the planet, and particularly to the seas. We are happy to make the necessary changes in order to do our bit. At AUTHOR, we will strive to do our best to focus on responsible and sustainable luxury furniture and interior items and to give our customers the service they deserve, value and trust.

If you’d like to know more about our practices and would like to get in touch, then please do not hesitate to contact us. You can read more about ethical and sustainable interior design here.

About the Author


Written by Jane Adams, founder of Author Interiors. LinkedIn:

Read more about her here.

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