Anne-Claire Martens is an interior designer and photographer with a focus on sustainable interiors. She has bundled the knowledge discovered in recent years in the 'Small guide, Big impact' full of practical tips in the field of sustainable, fair and healthy living. The guide offers plenty of options and useful advice for a conscious interior. By Mölle is one of the brands that she mentions in her guide, a nice opportunity to get to know her better.
How did the sustainable interior guide come about?
"The more I learned about the interior design industry, the more I felt the need to start sharing that knowledge. The numbers were sometimes so disturbing, everyone should know this. It's more important than ever to make conscious choices in our lives, not only in food and fashion, but also in your interior. That movement starts with all of us together. Everything you buy has an impact on the climate. Fortunately, there are plenty of great companies that do their utmost to produce as sustainably as possible. I have bundled the best tips for your bedroom, furniture, paint, wallpaper, accessories and lighting.The guide will help you make better choices for your interior and is packed with honest brands (no less than 78!), simple tips, personal stories, inspiring photos and also shocking facts. The latter is necessary, because it's just not all party. The time to do better, for yourself and the planet, is now."
What did you pay attention to when selecting makers?
"Three years ago I started researching sustainability within the interior sector. It struck me that a lot was already known about food and fashion, but that there was still very little to be found about the impact of the choices you make for your home. While it is extremely important that we start thinking about a healthy home.
We all want to live sustainably, but sometimes we simply don't know where to start. Because I couldn't find much about it, I did my own research. I looked at more than 300 interior brands , who said on their website that they were sustainable, contacted them and investigated to what extent this was the case. In the end I selected 78 brands that I wanted to highlight because they are really sustainable. It is important to report that this guide does is not sponsored in any way by one of the brands mentioned. No collaboration, free product or sponsorship was involved. I only included brands that could actually demonstrate what they do. In addition to my e I have been able to use research from Milieu Centraal and The Substitute to substantiate the story.”
What have you discovered?
"What everyone should know is that 11 billion kilos of furniture are thrown away in Europe every year. The impact of cheap furniture from Asia is enormous. Sixty percent of the furniture sold in Europe comes from China. This furniture often lasts only seven years, because they are put together quickly and cheaply. I discovered that this fast furniture – cheap furniture that is produced quickly for little money – is still a blind spot for many people, while it has a big impact on ourselves. Fortunately, we are thinking more and more consciously about food and clothing, but just like with fast food and fast fashion, abuses unfortunately also occur in the furniture industry, such as child and forced labor, illegal tree felling , the use of toxic poisons and unnecessary transport kilometers. The impact of the furniture industry is twice as great as that of the meat industry, now that we know that it is impossible to look away."
“Just because something is cheap doesn't mean it costs little, but that someone else pays the price.” Marieke EyskootWhat is your dream?
"Living in a world in which everyone is reconnected with nature. Doing good and having it well can be done together, provided we feel that we are part of this earth and no longer place ourselves outside the problem. It is not about not being allowed to do anything anymore , but to know what is possible and why. Everyone can contribute to a better world. It is time we started to appreciate craftsmanship and quality again. I always wonder, how can it be so cheap? It is not right that a t- shirt that costs a tenner in our store. As far as I'm concerned, that also applies to furniture, textiles, lighting, paint and wallpaper. If you want to be sure that your purchase has been produced under the right conditions with as few emissions as possible? for local brands and studios. You often pay a little more for it, but it is a fair price and of a quality that you will enjoy for years to come. A good interior is an ode to craftsmanship, and I am happy to advise on this."
''I'm going to make everything around me beautiful, that will be my life.'' Elsie de Wolfe
What is the impact?
What is the advantage of a sustainable interior?
"A natural environment is essential for a healthy, energetic and cheerful life. You will feel better in a sustainably furnished house that you have taken the time for. During my search I discovered, for example, that chemical toxins and microplastics our carpets and floor coverings, which we breathe every day. And that when textiles are washed, the same microplastic particles end up in our drinking water. The impact of toxins also applies to many furniture made of compressed wood (particle board) and veneer. packed with glue contain the toxic substance formaldehyde. I think almost all of us have something in the house that is made like that. And also for many mattresses, bedding, carpets, paint and lighting it turns out that it can be quite taxing for the environment and your health. That is why it is best to opt for natural materials and a label that does its best to produce well. For the environment it is also better for your health because we are nature."
Where do you get your inspiration from?
"My father is actually the one who inspired me to to delve into this topic. From him I inherited the love for beautiful timeless design and craftsmanship. He was a musician and sculptor. I remember well that the purchase of four Thonet chairs was a considerable investment for him. He had saved up to buy them. Craftsmanship takes time. Now they are at my house and that is so valuable. I enjoy that every day. For me, that is actually the essence of what an honest product is all about. What is the price/quality ratio? How strong are the materials? And could I pass this on to the next generation?"
1. Go for quality over quantity
2. Choose local natural materials
3. Buy timeless, don't go with trends
4. Enjoy craftsmanship and craftsmanship
5. First see if you can buy or exchange furniture second hand
6. Choose consciously based on your feeling and take your time to do that
"If you opt for natural sustainably produced materials, it gives so much peace of mind. I think that is the biggest impact. The benefit of tranquility of a natural interior means that a room can breathe, which entails an enormous health benefit for the resident. What I hear back of people I have been able to help is: we are only now really coming home to our house." That is fantastic. We are nature and it is precisely by surrounding yourself with nature that you feel that it does so much to you. You immediately notice that it is the only healthy choice. Ever since I started to delve into a sustainable interior, I feel that the closer I live to nature and the earth, the more balanced I become as a person. Moreover, natural materials are much healthier. They do not contain toxic substances that evaporate in the room. In short, enough reasons to gradually add more natural materials to your living environment."
Download here the free 'Small guide, Big impact' by Anne-Claire Martens.
Images: Marleen Serné