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Vegan Interior Design - Is It The Future?

As the plight for more sustainable interior design increases, a movement toward cruelty-free veganism is also growing in popularity. All of this involves making less of an impact on the planet but veganism especially highlights the importance of animal welfare in its movement. It promotes a lifestyle that is free from the consumption and exploitation of animals, plus the use of materials in a way that avoids harm to living things.

Eco-conscious interior designer Alicia Storie, from Edinburgh-based interior design studio AdesignStorie, gives us an insight into how she approaches vegan interior design.

What is vegan interior design?

“Veganism is a philosophy and way of living which seeks to exclude – as far as is possible and practicable – all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose” (The Vegan Society).

Whilst most focus has been directed towards diet, veganism is now branching out into other aspects of people’s lives and it is here that interior design comes into the picture. Veganism is drastically becoming more mainstream, with the number of reported vegans in Great Britain quadrupling from 2014 to 2019.

As we become more aware of the damaging impact that we have on the planet, we have a responsibility to make effective changes to the way that we live. This includes beginning to design our spaces in ways that do not harm the environment or the living things in it.

As we shall see, “cruelty-free” vegan interior design is already beginning to be established as a concept. It involves using products that have been humanely made and therefore don’t contain ingredients derived from animals nor have been tested on them. Ideally, it intertwines with the concept of sustainability as these products should be less taxing on the environment and less toxic.

Why is vegan interior design important?

The ways some products that we use to decorate our homes are made involve shockingly harmful treatment of animals. Animals are unnecessarily mistreated during the obtaining and production of leather, wool, feathers and fur. This is completely unacceptable, and whilst people continue to turn a blind eye to it and keep using products that promote it, not much will change. Vegan interior design offers us a step in the right direction towards a world where animals are not harmed for our material needs.

And it’s not only that. Veganism seeks to combat the human issues of water scarcity, the pollution of land and seas, and anthropogenic climate change that non-vegan mass production companies partake in to cause the suffering of people. It supports a healthy and non-exploitative interaction with the environment and all living things in it.

Along with this, vegan products often have a lower environmental footprint than other more damaging ones produced by processes such as factory farming. These products are made from more natural materials in a less environmentally exploitative way. Furthermore, they don’t require the chemicals that animal-derived products do to stop them from decomposing.

As designers and hence consumers of products, we drive the demand for products and so have the power to direct the interior design industry towards a vegan, environmentally friendly production process.

Vegan success stories so far

Luckily, thanks to the growing interest surrounding veganism, there are an increasing number of success stories about interior design features that have been made without harming animals in any part of the production process:

  • Biofabrication is an experimentation process that is helping us move away from exploiting animals by mixing chemistry with nature to create products like synthetic leather and even noise-isolation made from fungi.

  • The brand Anthropologie’s Angelina Sofa was awarded by PETA for the “Best Vegan Sofa” which was made from “performance wool”, a durable vegan fabric that avoids the exploitation of sheep.

  • Lastly, Weaver Green’s Nomad Taurus Cushion won “Best Vegan Cushion” which is successful in being both vegan and sustainable as it’s made completely from recycled plastic bottles, despite closely resembling wool.

How to implement veganism into your interior designs

As you can see, it is possible to start adopting a vegan approach to your interior designs even though it isn’t fully in the mainstream just yet. To begin incorporating veganism into your designs, you can start thinking about what materials you can substitute with cruelty-free alternatives:

  • Vegan leather: leather is an extremely damaging product to make as animals have to be skinned to produce it. Nowadays, there are plenty of alternative materials that can be used that are just as tough, long-lasting, and aesthetic. Piñatex is one such material but there are also many others.

  • Desserto’ – a biodegradable leather substitute made from cactus leaves, designed by Adrián López Velarde and Marte Cázarez, that can be dyed any colour. It’s currently used for clothing and accessories but has a huge potential to be used in furniture as well. This innovative material won the 2020 Green Product Award.

  • Vegan wool: there are countless options for wool replacements out there that don’t come from animals – Bamboo Silk, Tencel, Woocoa, organic cotton and soybean fibre – just to name a few.

  • Faux fur: due to customer demand and campaigning, faux fur has made its way into the mainstream. So much so that sometimes real fur is marketed as faux because more people will buy it. This poses a problem for those of us trying to select vegan products. To check if something is actually faux fur, check that the material at its base is fabric and that the fur is not tapered.

  • Duck-free down: live-plucking is traumatic, cruel and unnecessary. Instead, turn to organic cotton for pillows and bedding or soy-based padding for cushions.

  • Animal and eco-friendly paint: many paints are often made with ingredients derived from milk or beeswax and some are even tested on animals. There are now several paints that don’t involve damaging processes such as Graphenstone Paint.

  • Vegan glue: lots of glues contain harsh chemicals and have been created from the exploitation of animals. But Sebastian Cox’s ‘Mycelium + Timber’ collection of furniture has used a natural glue made from mushroom fibres – a safe and vegan option.

The main challenges we’ll face

Yes, significant progress has been but that doesn’t mean there aren’t existing and emerging difficulties we’ll have to face:

Merging veganism with sustainability: although these two concepts do often go hand-in-hand as they are both striving to achieve the same goal of diminishing our environmental impact, sometimes there is a conflict of interest. As an example, many vegan leather products are made from non-biodegradable plastic which is damaging to the environment. Ideally, there should not have to be a trade-off between being animal-friendly and eco-friendly. Hopefully, as the demand for both increases and technology develops, better products will be developed that meet both needs.

Unlike with food, it’s currently quite difficult to identify which products are vegan versus non-vegan in terms of furniture and décor. The detailed content of a piece of furniture is very rarely listed when it’s being sold which makes it hard for us as designers to pick out animal and eco-friendly products. Luckily, a growing number of consultancy firms are making themselves available to help you find out which items are in fact sustainable and cruelty-free.

Currently, vegan products can often cost a little more as they take more time and money to produce. Unfortunately, companies will not change their ways unless consumer demand becomes high enough to drive their incentives to do so. This is frustrating but it does mean that the power is in our hands. And it’s already showing results, especially in the car manufacturing industry. Mercedes has been selling leather-free vehicles since 2016 and Bentley is also looking to start using leather alternatives. Further change can be brought about through many means, with two of the main being legislation and social media:

Legislation: to help encourage customer demand for vegan products, legislation should strive to implement changes to labelling so that items containing animal products can be identified and avoided.

Social media: to drive companies’ wills toward vegan production processes, there should be an increase in vegan activism and an encouragement for vegan interior design pages. Perhaps you could begin documenting your journey towards vegan interior design online and in turn, encourage more people to do the same!

The connotations surrounding the word ‘vegan’ mean that some people immediately switch off when they hear it. Changes in terminology have been suggested, for example using ‘cruelty-free’ instead. But work can also be done to educate people on the reality of veganism and why it is such a necessary movement. As people become more aware of the issues surrounding exploitative products, veganism will inch its way into mainstream vocabulary and hopefully will soon be respected by the majority.

Photo credit: A Design Storie

FAQs – here's everything you need to know to get started!

What are some brands that sell vegan furniture in the UK?

Vegan Haven: sells ethically made furniture including bed frames, drawers, cupboards and wardrobes.

Wearth London: sells cruelty-free, handmade furniture such as tables, beds, seating and pegboards with sustainably sourced wood and a low carbon footprint.

Lakeland Paints: a company that produces organic paint that’s completely natural and vegan, free of VOCs, metals and plastics.

Chase and Wonder: make hand-poured, soy-wax candles in a selection of many beautiful scents that are refillable to minimise waste.

What are some certifications to look out for?

LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design): an internationally recognised certification that rates projects (from basic to platinum) in accordance with their guidelines on things such as water efficiency, energy use and materials used. They strive to encourage the use of eco-friendly materials, reduce energy use and improve the health and safety of buildings. Interior designers can apply to become a LEED Accredited Professional.

V-Label from proveg: pinpoints vegan and vegetarian products and is currently working to encourage furniture companies to incorporate veganism as part of their selling strategy.

PETA-Approved Vegan logo: a widely recognised certification that identifies fashion, furniture and décor that’s vegan.

What are some key tips to help me go vegan?

Declutter: get rid of non-vegan items that you don’t need anymore. You can give them to friends or family, donate them to charity, or sell them. Try to avoid throwing them into landfill as best you can.

Plan for the future: purchase vegan décor that will be durable and hardwearing – invest in items that you’ll want to keep for a long time yet.

Research: It can be daunting to do your own research but start by looking for products made from materials like linen, cotton, bamboo, cork, and recycled plastics. Be wary of products that contain or have involved animal exploitation.

PETA’s website allows you to look up a company’s cruelty-free statuses.

Where can I get inspiration for vegan designs? offers a six-week online course giving practical training and advice for becoming a vegan interior designer and puts you in contact with others working to do the same.

Dezeen has a large section with all the latest news on vegan interior design, including new product releases and technological developments, plus some weird and whacky artistic inventions to inspire your creativity!

DiMare Design is a renowned interior design consultancy firm offering educational courses on all things vegan to design and remodel buildings into healthy, cruelty-free spaces. is a resource that educates people wanting to purchase vegan products and offers a course for designers who want to start working with vegan materials.

Start your vegan journey now

Vegan interior design is the direction that the industry is naturally moving towards, following the increased awareness for animal welfare and environmental sustainability. Beginning to incorporate this into your designs means you’re one step ahead of the curve and a trailblazer within the industry – it won’t be long before many people start to follow in your footsteps! It’s an exciting time for interior design and there are many wonderful people already working on bettering the industry – there’s no time like the present to start making your own interior designs kinder to the planet.

You can find out more information and see more of Alicia's work over on the A Design Storie website where you'll find a full list of interior design services along with their approach to sustainability and portfolio. You can also reach out and connect with Alicia on Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest.

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