23 October 2023

To achieve real sustainability in interior design projects, it is necessary to address the imbalance in the reuse market. Simply focusing on the sale of reused furniture is not enough if the majority still routinely chooses to buy new. We need to both reassess our view of interior design as a consumer responsibility and actively promote reuse in interior projects.

Many tenants today are seeking sustainable management of their furnishings, either through sale or donation. Unfortunately, there is an imbalance in the second-hand market, where supply exceeds demand. This imbalance poses a challenging societal problem as interior design is often considered a consumer good. In order to conduct interior projects in a sustainable way, it is necessary to re-evaluate our attitude and instead actively promote the internal reuse of existing furnishings.

“Early on in our projects, we aim to inform our customers that there is a growing reuse market for high-quality furnishings. At the same time, we review any inventory of the customer’s existing resources. Indicum has a close dialogue with companies that work with reconditioning and we notice an increasing interest in reuse among our customers” says Marie Lindblad, interior designer at Indicum.

Uppsala Vatten by Indicum Inredningsarkitekter, photographer Christoffer Skogsmo.

“We help companies with sustainable end-to-end solutions for office interiors. This may involve refurbishing and redesigning existing furniture or renting out and adding recycled furnishings,” says Johnny Wallén, operations manager at Recycling Partner in Uppsala

Architecture firms are in an important position to work with their clients to drive more sustainable interior projects. “Early on in our projects, we aim to inform our customers that there is a growing reuse market for high-quality furnishings. At the same time, we review any inventory of the customer’s existing resources. Indicum has a close dialogue with companies that work with reconditioning and we notice an increasing interest in reuse among our customers” says Marie Lindblad, interior designer at Indicum. She believes that it is of great importance to develop a clear picture of the customer’s needs at an early stage in order to guide them properly at an early stage in the project.

Raising awareness and promoting initiatives aimed at revitalising the market for second-hand furnishings and furniture is essential. The imbalance in the reuse market leads to used furniture retailers facing major challenges in “capturing” and managing the large amount of furniture that is currently available for reuse. In an era characterised by over-consumption and fast-moving trends, it is of utmost importance to identify and see the potential of reuse over new purchases.

RP has many years of experience as a retailer of refurbished office furniture. “We help companies with sustainable end-to-end solutions for office interiors. This may involve refurbishing and redesigning existing furniture or renting out and adding recycled furnishings,” says Johnny Wallén, operations manager at Recycling Partner in Uppsala, and points out that the perception of recycled furnishings has changed from being seen as a cheaper alternative to being valued as better than new. It is a positive change, but still, only a fraction of the furnishings offered for sale are reused.

Older models of certain types of furniture are typical examples of furniture that is difficult for companies to sell second-hand. There is simply no market for this furniture. It is clear that the current view of interior design is a societal problem. The attitude is that furniture is a perishable product that companies and homeowners should renew regularly. This attitude is reinforced by discount chains such as IKEA. To solve this problem, a change in attitude towards what is considered stylish and functional is necessary.

More knowledge and less focus on fast trends is needed. It is of utmost importance to create incentives and initiatives that can increase the demand for second-hand furnishings and furniture, thus creating an economically sustainable situation for retailers and expanding the supply of the second-hand market.

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