designerati 3 May 2022:
Ethical sourcing and upcycling in hospitality

A new series featuring designers, architects and senior professionals talking about future-proof design. Today, Andrew Murray of design studio Morpheus & Co discusses their approach to ethical design and sustainability in the hospitality sector.

How do you approach sustainability at the start of a hospitality project and what are your key considerations?

The philosophy of design is changing at an exponential rate, driven by evolving expectations and demands of consumers. As design professionals, we hold significant responsibility when it comes to creating beautiful spaces that incorporate both sustainability and ethics, ensuring we are constantly positioning sustainability as not only the right choice, but the only choice.

At Morpheus & Co, we are determined to become leaders in the field of sustainable design, and are always looking at ways to steer our design projects in more exciting and challenging directions – focusing on an agenda that pioneers what is right, rather than what is easy.

With clients increasingly aware of their environmental impact, for every new project we always start with an awareness of our potential carbon footprint. We actively seek suppliers that share our core values, and our ethical approach is reflected in the design, from the planning stages through to the material selection on each project. We carefully source materials that won’t end up in landfill, whilst also conducting thorough research into how each of the products we use are produced, to guarantee the lowest level emissions, before sharing a proposal with our client.

``Thoughtful and careful consideration into design is at the crux of what we do and ensuring these beautiful spaces incorporate environmentally conscious elements such as energy efficiency, as well as accessibility, is imperative within the hospitality sector.``

How has your sustainability criteria materialised within your hospitality projects?

Our core values are based on a strong platform of sustainability in interior architecture, which takes shape in a number of forms, including the materials we use. Wherever possible, we avoid using heavily pollutant resins, laminates and fabrics, and instead use materials such as bamboo, cork and plant-based natural fibre cements, which are less damaging in terms of emissions.

For timber interior finishes and furniture, we prioritise materials that come from as close to the project as possible to ensure that the carbon footprint is reduced and, with community impact also at the core of our values, we ensure the production methods for those operating in the timber yard are ethical too.

For our client, Six Senses Residences Courchevel, we were faced with a dilemma: supporting a local business and sourcing fabrics locally or spending money further afield to make a bigger impact. Ultimately, we designed and sourced a product that directly benefited education in Ethiopia, using material available from the non-profit Lalibella. The fabrics were handmade by a successful family business whose mission is empowering and employing marginalised groups whilst ensuring high quality products, with all profits generated flowing directly to their charitable projects supporting women artisans and economic growth in Ethiopia.

Have you seen any significant changes with regards to demand for ethically sourced and sustainable materials?

We have seen an increasing demand for faster growing timbers such as ash, beech and oak. These are becoming more popular in the luxury market due to the ability (with careful and skilful stain, polish and finish) to create a look very similar to the endangered rainforest timbers of wenge, ebony and teak.

Our commercial and hospitality clients are also becoming more aware of sustainability and the role it has, importance it plays with their consumers’ decisions. As a result, we have seen a rise in the demand for fabrics woven from plastic ocean waste, which is becoming more widely available, particularly with hotels and environmentally conscious tourists who are seeking out more eco-friendly holidays and experiences.

How do you balance considerations like energy efficiency and accessibility whilst still ensuring a beautifully designed space that people will enjoy?

Thoughtful and careful consideration into design is at the crux of what we do and ensuring these beautiful spaces incorporate environmentally conscious elements such as energy efficiency, as well as accessibility, is imperative within the hospitality sector. From handpicking our products, upcycling and recycling materials, to introducing the latest technology into spaces to minimise our carbon footprint, we are always carefully considering our design methods when creating high-quality, luxurious spaces for people to enjoy.

A great upcycling example can be seen at one of our current branded residence projects, which saw the introduction of SHIKKUI (an innovative natural Japanese plaster) to promote the air quality in the rooms. SHIKKUI Surface Coatings are a natural lime plaster system for walls and ceilings that achieve a stunning range of traditional and modern finishes, including a full range of Venetian Stucco and stone effects. SHIKKUI coatings are non-toxic and made with up to 50 per cent reprocessed eggshells. What’s more, the coatings are highly porous and naturally antiseptic, so indoor air quality is actively improved for healthier spaces.

Read the full article here.